Now to the big challenge! Confidence campaign to boost sector

Industry leaders are launching a campaign to boost confidence in the sector and prove its worth to the country.

Smyle’s Rick Stainton and BVEP chair Simon Hughes are leading the campaign to embed trust in the industry’s safety approach to the widest audience possible. They are calling on the industry to contribute by highlighting their top issues and helping to raise £30,000 to bring the campaign to a national audience.

The news follows the announcement last week that conferences and business events are set to return from October 1.

In an open letter to the sector, Stainton said: “Friday 17 July was a big day for the events industry, and I’m sure we all share our delight at overcoming the first hurdle of acquiring a restart date for the events industry announced by the PM. A huge effort has gone into lobbying the Government by our associations and key players, and we must thank them enormously.

“So now to the big challenge. While we can now work towards 1st October, there is still the matter of consumer, government and corporate confidence to overcome in conjunction with a unique timing opportunity to explain what we actually contribute to the country– a potential far reaching legacy to this situation we are all enduring. So we must take to the public and national press the positive message that we know what we are doing and that they can all be reassured our events will be safe as standard.”

The campaign’s aims are:

– to reassure that the UK events industry are the experts globally in safety measures, as well as creative, digital and sustainability
– to inspire by showcasing what the industry does, the lives the industry’s work touches and the projects it delivers
– to educate about the industry’s contribution to the economy in employment, GDP, exports and the eco-system, including young employment opportunities

Stainton added: “The key here is to ensure as equal a weighting across the different parts of the events industry as possible. We will launch an overarching hashtag movement, called #WeCreateExperiences, under which there will be sub-sections dedicated to different areas.

“Simon Hughes, chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership, has offered to support this campaign and help arrange the practical solutions required to do so – as the independent body representing all the main associations in our industry and government, they are as placed best placed as any to manage this.”

It is proposed to break down as:

  • The Power of Events to Inspire (covering product launches, brand experiences)
  • The Power of Events to Educate (covering conferences, conventions, exhibitions)
  • The Power of Events to Entertain (festivals, music, sport, culture)
  • The Power of Events to Support Society (third sector, charity, government)
  • The Power of Events to Grow (our value to GDP, jobs, exports, global leadership)

These messages will be supported by a hashtag movement, under the #WeCreateExperiences banner, such as #BritishEventsInspire, #BritishEventsEducate, #BritishEventsEntertain, #BritishEventsSupport, and #BritishEventsGrow

Stainton said: “As an industry we are experts in safety, and that critical element should underpin all the above as what we do as standard – this will also be clearly communicated in the content and campaign messaging – format to be developed in due course in alignment with published guidance.

“The highest level of content, data figures and high profile celebrity endorsements will then be used to create a video and associated social media assets for distribution across a campaign likely to be end of August/early September – exact date/timing tbc at this stage obviously.”

Stainton added that he is looking to raise £30,000 to help fund the PR campaign and is also looking for event professionals to send their top issues to build the core message of the campaign.

He said: “We want to avoid design by committee but would really like to crowd source your key themes to ensure that the initial thinking truly aligns across the industry. So please send us your top four (max) issues from your point of view so that we can at least sense check our core messages proposals – not everyone will of course be 100 per cent happy with everything, so in the spirit of this unprecedented unification process please allow a tad of movement and compromise!

“Of course, this must be supported by a larger PR resource requirement for the campaign to generate the national attention and media buy-in we all desire – it is absolutely essential to our success. As such, we are asking businesses to contribute a nominal donation to a campaign PR fund, which we propose is received and managed by the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP). These funds will be held in a separate account to pay the associated PR fees. We are aiming to raise somewhere in the region of £30,000+ and are asking for £250 for businesses employing under 50pax or £10m turnover, and £500 for employing 50 or more with turnover in excess of £10m.

“Come the first week of August, we will go out to tender to three or four public affairs companies to help push our message across the media.”

Stainton added that anyone wishing to get involved in the campaign should send over their top sector issues and confirm they are happy to pay the contribution by contacting him on and/or by 5pm on Friday 24 July.