The Potential and Paradox of Events in the Twenty-First Century

Today, connecting with others through digital means is an accepted and ever-present reality. Digital interaction is like the air we breathe, invisible and natural, even when it leads to apparently ridiculous situations, such as two teenagers sitting side by side texting messages back and forth to each other. And that's precisely why, paradoxically, knowing how to leverage events strategically is more important than ever before. The more we live in a world that is digital, the more we need live events—and the more we need to know how to use them wisely.

At regular intervals during the 72-year history of the brand experience agency I work for, Jack Morton, prognosticators and irrationally exuberant technologists have predicted that new innovations—from videoconferencing to virtual events to the Internet itself—would be the death of live events. Yet reports of events' death were, to paraphrase Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated: exactly the opposite has happened. Events—defined as everything from small-scale gatherings for C-level executives to mass happenings that engage consumers and generate media for brands—have continued to grow in importance as part of the marketing mix. Agencies like ours have thrived. As human beings, we crave “real” human interaction. As leaders of business, we've come to acknowledge that we get a lot done when we gather face-to-face that we simply can't do through other means. As marketers, ...

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