2015 saw Pumphouse become part of the larger Smyle Group. The changes saw Pumphouse relocate from Royston 20 miles south to Smyle HQ in Hertford.
This has been an exciting move for Pumphouse, Smyle and more importantly for our clients… the new arrangement improves the Pumphouse offer in many ways, not least of which is an ability to deliver any event using Smyle Group’s vast amount of in-house resource. Not only does this result in more competitive pricing for our clients, the non-reliance on third-party supply simplifies event delivery communication.
In addition to the nuts and bolts, Pumphouse also enjoys being a vibrant part of a much larger creative gene-pool, bouncing design and technology ideas off group colleagues and benefiting clients with their experience.
In return, Pumphouse’s experience in Internal Communications and AGM’s, and its ability to nurture client relationships over the long term are real assets to the Group.
These are interesting times to work at Smyle Group…
We’re looking for a Project Coordinator/Production Assistant to join our busy team in Hertford, reporting directly to our Senior Event Producer.
Click on the link and speak to Nick on 01992 532483 to arrange an interview.
A great video by Event Model Generation.
Further, more subtle changes in the events industry look likely in 2015. With the emphasis changing on how events are to be experienced comes a necessary adjustment to the way they should be planned. Rather than executing experiences and coordinating meetings, the event planner of 2015 will fulfil more of a director/orchestrator role – getting the constituents together, but allowing them more license to shape the event and deliver a bespoke experience.
Alongside this, previously considered ‘nice-to-haves’ like event sponsorship and delegate feedback will have elevated, ‘must have’ status.
Sponsorship delivery has improved dramatically recently with the advent of online tools such as Endorsevent. In the past, gaining sponsorship has been a hard sell, with the benefits to the sponsor often being grossly overstated. Sponsor pounds are more hard-fought than ever before, so the offer has to be targeted and clearly evidenced. Endorsevent achieves this by matching event audiences to the sponsor. Event organisers state their audience type while sponsors stress their particular needs. Endorsevent then collates the two and hey-presto, the audience has an interest in the sponsor and the relationship between the event manager and sponsor has real value.
Determining a return on objectives is a subject that I have written much about and collecting the feedback necessary to prove ROO is often a struggle for the event planner. The emphasis here has to be on collecting the right information in an effortless way. Effortless for the delegate, that is! The benefit of producing relevant surveys is clear: the audience feels understood. People who are listened to feel part of the process and can make and take decisions more quickly. This fuels the feedback process. We can DIY this and have tools readily available like Survey Monkey, or we can engage a third party expert such as Satsum. The Satsum tool is delightfully simple to use.
One event priority for many delegates is networking. Previously, for many, this has worked in spite of the event, rather than because of it. With changing work practices, the need to network is increasingly vital and rather than deliver an event that is all about the message and centred on an outpouring of strategy, the event planner has an opportunity to facilitate and create an environment that also aims to deliver meaningful networking. The charming video, at the start, from Event Model Generation, sums all of this up for the event planner.
Will your event have an impact on attendees resulting in them doing, feeling or thinking something differently? If the answer to this simple question is no, then perhaps it’s time to challenge its existence.
An event should ‘persuade, educate, empower or inspire participants to do something which adds value to stakeholders at the lowest possible cost.’
It is becoming increasingly important to demonstrate compliance with this definition. In fact, most businesses demand some measure of Return on Investment, or at the very least, Return on Objectives. Reasons for this need vary from being able to benchmark the event against other marketing activities, driving up internal event efficiencies or simply justifying the continued presence of the event.
Put simply, an event has to climb the pyramid somehow. An event that strikes the upper echelons of the pyramid will prove most durable.
In the internal-communications world it isn’t always easy to attribute pounds saved or dollars earned to a specific event which is why the term Return on Objectives has become more resonant with this stakeholder group.
Level-one event objectives centre on how we want to make an attendee feel: will they be motivated, challenged and satisfied by the event? Is the event well run and are the speakers interesting?
Level-two objectives concentrate on what it is that the delegates are expected to learn in the meeting: Will they be able to develop a business plan, can they explain the key benefits of the new product or identify the five steps in the new CEO’s business strategy?
Level-three requires the learnings in level two to be put into practice. So objectives for these will be a time-bound application like: We expect seventy per cent of employees to have downloaded and be using the new timesheet app by next Thursday.
To make the jump from a return on objectives to a return on investment requires more detailed information from the client company.
Setting and measuring level-four objectives will include the impact that an event has on the business and how that impact translates into profit. This will also inevitably include a focus on driving down costs.
Determining ROI (level five) from a complicated level-four analysis is simple. ((Delivered revenue – cost)/cost) will compute a percentage score for the event.
As previously stated, not every event is about a return on investment. An event is often part of a complicated marketing mix that, over time, plays its important part in adding value to the organisation.
There is no reason why every event, however, should not deliver a return on objectives.
Determining objectives is best achieved as a collaborative process and one that should start at the initial brief. A good template for a briefing should include the following questions:
- What are the overall objectives for the event?
- What is the audience profile? (Age, jobs, demographic etc.)
- What is the prevalent mind-set, attitude and prejudice of the audience?
- What do you want the audience to perceive about the event and how do you intend them to act? (Level 1)
- What are the key messages and learnings that need to be communicated? (Level 2)
- What changes do you expect to see? What, specifically, do you want delegates to do differently? (Level 3)
- What recommendations can be made in terms of meeting format design and use of digital technology to leverage delegate engagement?
- How can the event’s contribution be felt strongest by non-attendees?
Making objectives measurable in this fashion creates a clear look of success that is appreciated by everyone in the event-planning process.
The increased ability to pin-point the location of an attendee has changed the way we look at events.
With latest technologies boasting an accuracy to 1 metre, the benefits of adopting micro-location are clear: if we know who’s where, we can target a real-time, ‘local’ experience based solely on who’s present, rather than a best guess of who’s likely to be.
Microlocation, uses beacons, WiFi and smart markers to fulfil its purpose. It enables organisers to personalise real-time outcomes leading to increased attendee interaction and participation.
As more data becomes known about the attendee, event organisers have the ability to target their marketing approach. This could include the provision of useful guides and reminders as well as suggestions for the attendee’s next ten minutes.
One such user of this technology is Pathfindr, available at www.pathfindr.co.uk. Pathfindr uses your smart-phone camera to scan for signature images on ceilings and floors. So, even with no WiFi, GPS or data the technology still works.
Another idea, is Loopd. Check out http://getloopd.com/badge. Their approach wraps the technology into unobtrusive lanyards, but their objective is the same: to improve the experience and provide useful data for the organiser.
Couple this technology with our love of Social Media and it’s easy to see how an attendee’s preferences can be fed into the mix.
Big Brother, possibly; but useful, certainly.
When we are subject to so much marketing spam in our lives, this approach feels refreshingly targeted.
Long gone is the day when one size fits all. Thank goodness! I grew up in a family where ‘hand-me-down’ was the only clothing brand that existed.
Today, choice is everywhere, not just in clothing, but permeating every single facet of our working and home lives.
And because choice is omnipresent, it’s hardly surprising that two new behaviours have recently surfaced and we see these all the time in the events world. Instead of being satisfied with ‘what’s on offer’:
- We like to control and shape the experiences we consume. Checkout ‘Chune’, a great device for merging playlists and designing a new one that recognises the tone of your party. http://chune.co.uk/ if you can’t see the video…
- And we like the experience to ‘know’ us, interact with us, get rid of the irrelevant stuff and cut to the fun straight away. http://shortcutapp.com/ allows us to bypass queues at events and have our orders from stores and concessions delivered to our seats using smart POS software.
One of the many downsides of unlimited choice is that we are more easily bored. Our life-diet has become high-calorie and content-intense. In food terms, we have become used to fillet steak and lobster frites. There is no longer a place in our hearts for beans on toast, right?
Because we get quickly bored, we urge for experiences that are unexpected and unplanned. The curious will always want to explore.
Two new apps that feed this urge are:
http://partywithalocal.com/ an app which puts city locals in touch with travellers who want to party! What could possibly go wrong there?
And http://www.spangle.io/ is another which takes the ‘pulse’ of local events and informs you which party is the place to be.
Regrettably, when I looked at the possible parties in my local village, it returned a question mark. Cambridge it is then!
Audience engagement is still the number one desirable for corporate messaging events.
It’s proven that engagement increases with audience participation. So, it should be easy to achieve then?
The difficulty is that not enough people want to participate or contribute. So, we end up hearing from the same, more-confident-than-me people every time.
We’re all scared of looking silly in front of our peers. As the microphone is handed round, usually slowly, there’s a hush of expectation and the spotlight falls on us…
We feel exposed. We may have a good idea, but if we mess up the delivery by tangling our words, we end up looking and feeling stupid.
But don’t despair! The cavalry’s here in the form of two rival technologies that take the pain out of Q&A by making it fun, quick and social.
The first is Catchbox: http://getcatchbox.com/ if you can’t see below…
These soft-foam, boxlike Mics can be thrown by the presenter to the audience. Q&A becomes quicker, involves participation and reduces the perceived hierarchy between stage and floor. It gamifies Q&A.
The second technology allows us to use our own smartphones as the floor microphone. It’s Crowdmics: http://crowdmics.com/
Again, instead of waiting through lengthy, pressure-building, pauses, we can immediately light up the conference with our own ideas, spoken through our own handset, delivered through the conference speakers.
The result: a spontaneous outpouring of ideas and a collaborative, sociable feeling.
Both technologies look likely to play an important role in our next events at Pumphouse.
According to Cisco, more things are connected to the internet than people. In 2010 there were 12.5 billion internet-connected devices, a figure that is expected to grow to 50 billion by 2020.
These figures are not just made up from the expected smart-phones and tablets. Smart technology is popping up everywhere, even in the least likely places.
Cattle, fitted with wireless sensors, can now ‘tell’ a Vet when they are ill or pregnant by transmitting packets of information. Animal welfare issues could become a thing of the past.
Closer to home, similar technology can help us self-diagnose health risks.
When devices talk to us, it makes our lives that little bit easier. But this is nothing compared to the very real prospect of a series of connected devices talking to each other and making intelligence-based decisions on our behalf.
Imagine. An email hits your in-box while you sleep. That meeting you scheduled for 8am has been moved to 9am. Your alarm clock responds by revising your wake-up time to a default setting. A traffic jam en-route factors back in twenty minutes and the sensors from your car’s fuel tank suggest that a stop to refuel may also be necessary. 10 minutes back in for that too.
The kettle boils as your alarm goes off. While you are making the coffee the car begins its defrosting routine.
Of course, the words ‘kettle’ and ‘car’ may not exist for long. Perhaps a device that knows when we are thirsty provides the drink of choice, from your favourite vendor, quickly and cheaply to your door and cars are replaced by ‘transport on demand’, a low-energy, cost-effective transport solution that ‘knows’ sixty people from Royston are thinking about setting off for Stevenage at 8.12am.
Automatic emails from your colleagues acknowledging the new meeting time flood in.
An extra thirty minutes in bed with the wife, or playing with the kids could be seen by some as frivolous, a poor return from all that technology, but it all adds up and begins to put back a little more private life in today’s ‘available 24/7’ world.
Sensors will also detect planetary and environmental changes. These changes will be communicated by myriad devices across plentiful platforms, potentially saving millions of lives from natural disasters.
Businesses will save billions in wasted time and resources; every facet of our lives will be transformed.
Adding further to our smarter world, where devices begin to take our choices for us, is another technology that will make our personal input into our own lives even more informed.
This technology is augmented reality. Unlike virtual reality, which changes the appearance of what we see, augmented reality leaves the backdrop unchanged – whether that is a streetscape or a single can of beans – and superimposes graphics, audio and even smells, to heighten our understanding of the view. As our viewpoint changes, so does the interface, fed by a mix of GPS, brand recognition and internet-based information.
Mobile device apps are currently the most readily available readers of this technology. When viewing a street using existing iPhone apps, useful graphics appear to explain the scene. Google will bring out smart-glasses in the near future designed to look like normal sunglasses. The viewer’s experience of what she sees will be transformed without the need to point a device.
Seeing a street and knowing where the food outlets are is one thing; viewing a person and knowing they are not what they seem could be quite another. Facebook and LinkedIn profiles made readily available to the viewer will allow us to qualify our perception of a person and see whether reality closely maps. I can see this being a very useful interviewing tool, allowing HR professionals to predict appropriateness for a certain role.
This technological double-whammy will have a startling effect on our lives. It has the power to transform our smart-device affection into full-blown addiction and dependency.
3D-Projection Mapping has been around for a while and, unless you have been back-packing in the wilds of Northern Canada for the last three years, you would doubtless have seen its usage in high-budget pop-concerts and product launches.
As the technology has increased in popularity, so costs to produce projection-mapped displays have fallen. Now, it is not just the wealthy corporations who have the budget to project their images onto large buildings to launch the latest vodka-derivative drink or hybrid utility vehicle. Entry-level pricing of around £5000 has made 3D-Projection Mapping an affordable consideration for the many rather than a exclusive, highly-coveted medium for the rich.
The technology relies on accurately mapping an animated 3D image onto a 2D surface.
Outdoor projection mapping, otherwise known as ‘Building Mapping’ uses animations, projected onto the surface of a building, to bring large environments to life. Clever graphics, played upon the building, can leave the viewer amazed as seemingly solid and straight walls morph into curves and change colours. Palaces are built brick-by-brick in seconds only to be destroyed and built again.
Brands can interweave a message into the animation, imaginatively presenting a product or service to the awed audience.
(Click on the link to see the incredible transformation of Prague’s astrological tower.)
The use of centrally-located, high-profile buildings is a particular favourite for product launches and PR stunt-delivery. It ticks all the boxes, highly visible, impressive, environmentally friendly and latterly, giving a decent bang for the buck.
In the face-to-face, conference environment, the high-profile building is replaced by a carefully-considered stage set. Whatever set designed, Projection Mapping has the ability to transform it. With so many conferences looking to transform the behaviours and culture of their audiences, the technology readily strikes a resonant chord with many organisers.
And it’s just so engaging – distracting even – as clicking on the link below will prove.
Add PiP (Picture-in-Picture) projection, which inserts more traditional video and presentation assets into the overall treatment and holographic technology to exaggerate the 3D effect, lifting products or people off the screen, closer to the audience, and you are left with a highly engaging, ultra-realistic presentation format.
After all, face-to-face is about the message, delivered in context. If your event’s purpose is to drive meaningful change, by firstly challenging existing beliefs and then making the future dream more easily reachable, then these technologies should be among the first you should explore with Pumphouse Productions.
When the buttons on our mobile phone touch screens are about half the size of our index fingers, and predictive text un-jumbles the meaningless series of letters we type, we enter the dark and dangerous nether-world that is ‘miscommunication’.
Many predictive text errors are hysterically funny, and easy to resolve between friends, but a recent example had fatal consequences, with neighbours stabbing each other when an argument, triggered by a predictive text error and without a background of understanding, escalated to violence.
Couple typographical errors, with national and regional idioms, and it’s easy to see why multinationals employ a raft of skilled communications professionals to deliver clear messaging.
Our natural responses, both in and out of the work environment, can also include obfuscating language designed to ‘soften the blow’ or avoid confrontation with our colleagues. An understanding of English ‘code’ may also be required by our EU and US colleagues. The following interpreter’s guide could help.
A face-to-face conversation between two friends, or better still lovers, is close to the perfect communication model. The pair can use all available communications tools: speech, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, asking questions and getting instant clarification. They can draw from a historic understanding of each other and can set everything in its correct context, without distraction from the outside world. Even with control of all of these factors, miscommunications between friends and lovers regularly occur.
Contrast this perfect communications model with our everyday corporate communications.
Take away facial expression and body language and you have a telephone call.
Take away everything else and you have an email.
How many of us are guilty of having sent a hastily-drafted email which we have had cause to regret later? On reflection, its tone is either pompous or petulant, with neither emotion having been piqued on writing.
Today, we have at our fingertips a range of mobile communication devices – phones, laptops and tablets – allowing us to communicate instantly with friends and colleagues.
The logic shouts that having the ability to communicate quickly and easily improves the overall communications picture. The truth couldn’t be further removed. Technology has empowered all of us. Communicators, good and bad, can make their comments 24/7, making softly-spoken, good ideas even harder to hear in the maelstrom.
In the workplace, poorly-worded communications can easily be taken out of context and misunderstood when received by distracted executives.
When 400 of the planet’s largest companies were last surveyed, they estimated the cost of miscommunication at a staggering $26,041 per employee. Or, put another way, poor communication almost doubles the wages bill. The other statistic of note to come out of this research was that companies led by good communicators drive 47% greater returns than their less-effective counterparts.
Clearly, a CEO simply does not have the time to talk to her staff individually or even in small groups. She has to leverage all channels available to her to make sure that her message gets through clearly. But how does she listen?
Pumphouse Productions is a fervent advocate of face-to-face communications where presenters have a platform to convey strategy directly to their people. The audience can hear the speaker’s tone of voice and recognise sincerity; they can look at her body language and see confidence, they can hear a message like it is, without filtering and conditioning and delivered with emotion and passion. Correspondingly, a seasoned presenter can ‘read’ the audience and adapt his messaging to support understanding. This skill is vital for good presentation; some learn it over time, others more pro-actively, by taking lessons from speaker support trainers.
Content is clearly crucial to deliver audience engagement, but what is often overlooked is context.
Mapping the message to the medium conveying it and the environment in which it is delivered – putting the message into a suitable context – enhances the content strategy and leaves no room for misunderstanding.
Get both of these factors correct in your meetings and face-to-face becomes the most powerful weapon in the communications armoury.