When emotion meets engagement

Alistair Turner, managing director of Eight PR & Marketing on the importance of creating a narrative and experience to give a lasting impression of your event. As someone that works closely in both exhibitions and communications, I’ve witnessed with increasing regularity the positive effects of when engagement meets emotion. We’re all increasingly aware of the power of events in igniting social media. Equally how, by creating great experiences, we can fill the gap that exists between a digital message and a physical one. But I’ve always advocated PR involvement in both social media and events. Firstly, because we deal in the relationships between a brand and its audience, secondly, because, where events deal in engagement, we deal in emotion.  I think back to one of my favourite exhibition moments; the use of the Only Fools & Horses Robin Reliant and set at the Ideal Home Show. As a marketeer this continues to delight me. I refuse to believe that this was a random idea thought up in the bath by some budding creative. This is Media 10 after all and nothing ends up on the exhibition floor unless its been thoroughly thought through and has a smart strategic argument. I like to think that this journey started by having a real look at the audience; thinking about their demographic, what icons would have influenced them in their past and that would resonate with them now. Of the state of mind they wanted to create for the audience; be it to simply put a smile on their face or to create that so powerful emotion, nostalgia. I like to think they wanted to create an emotion that would put the visitor in the ideal state of mind to experience the exhibition, forget about outside influences and be transported into a perfectly curated world. It is for this reason that the fixture worked. It worked because we saw a massive queue of people waiting to take a selfie of themselves at the stand. The selfie is a fascinating thing to a marketer working in the events industry and a perfect measurement tool of the mix between emotion and engagement. It demonstrates that the power of the connection is so strong that people are compelled to physically place themselves in the moment. How many times has your content been so compelling that someone will tweet it; how strong has it been visually that they will take a picture and post it on Google+; how strong has the experience been that they will blog it after the event. How many selfie moments is your event worth? It’s a tough ask and a challenge that could be decisive in how you bring your own experience to life. As a PR and comms industry we are always talking about the importance of ‘story telling’ and bringing a brand or organisation’s story to life. Why? Because we understand that if you want to create an emotion, tell a story. When PR and events work in unison, not only is this story told, it’s bought to life in an engaging way. So what can we learn? As creators of exhibitons we understand the need to create an engaging experience, but as also de facto PR people, it is important that we also remember the power of emotion. Where engagement creates interest and curiosity, it is the emotion that creates action. We also have to believe that this emotion creates tangible impact. Creators of other experiences such as cinema, theatre and concerts worry more about the selfie, the use of social media and the act of placing oneself into the experience. Many argue – in my mind correctly – that to tweet during a film or theatre is actually taking oneself out of the experience not putting themselves in it. As an industry we also need to be wary that our events are curated so intently to create engagement that we actually take them away from the content they were meant to see. We need to make sure we get the levels right between emersion and engagement. We should also remember that as we curate experiences we should think about the story we want to tell, but also about the emotions we want our guests or buyers to feel. Great creativity lives in the little cubby holes these questions create; how can we make them feel how we want them to feel, how can we create warmth? We see examples of it every day, little twists that make us smile, huge statements that make us stop and listen; the exhibition industry is good at this. However there are few things more rewarding than seeing someone fully commit to such a creative and seeing it come to life so dramatically. This happens when emotion and engagement meet. This article was first published in the October issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
Alistair Turner
Posted by Alistair Turner
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