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August 17, 2009

Ian Irving:Looking for the 'live' moment

The commercial director of Sledge says that, far from missing out on the potential of live marketing, companies are embracing the channel more and more.

In a recent column on MEETINGS:review, Live Union’s Jez Paxman states that businesses are losing a communication channel. I do not agree in the slightest.

Today more than ever, brands are being smarter with their money and being smarter with their engagement initiatives. Live events still play a big part in many of the important communication efforts of large corporations, especially in these times of uncertainty. To get in front of your colleagues and see the whites of their eyes when delivering the message has always been one of the most powerful tools in the box.
Living for the experience
Every day we see new and interesting ways in which people are using ‘live’ to communicate messages. Whether it’s related to art, business, pleasure or sport, music and leisure, we are all looking for that live moment, or (to quote Smirnoff) the ‘I was there’ moment.

To say that businesses are turning their noses up at ‘live’ because the figures don’t add up is a fleeting remark without substance. The live event industry has been scrutinised about its return on investment and accountability for years, and agencies have met these questions with quantifiable responses.

Time after time we have looked at ourselves and asked how can we do this better and how can we do this cheaper. But while cheaper isn't always better, nor does that mean it has to cost a million bucks.

Staying alive
Engagement does not only come from the face to face, it comes from the amplification of the messages, and how you keep the passion and inspiration of ‘live’ alive beyond the event.
Sledge is currently working on more internal communications initiatives than ever before, and the live event elements are becoming more immersive and engaging. Sure, clients have a sense of trepidation when we suggest breaking with traditional event formats and some feel uncomfortable with committing to a new presentation style. But isn’t that part of the role of an agency?

We are there to hold the client’s hand and lead them through the unknown. We have to make sure that the event engages the audience and ensure that we strategically implement mechanics that allow the engagement to live on beyond the event itself.
In line with this positive uplift in this side of our business, we are aligning ourselves to a number of employee engagement specialists, who are coming on board to help us and our clients in the education process – not only in getting across of the power of live events, but also the need to stream two-way traffic with a view to the creation of a full 360 degree approach.

Ian Irving is commercial director at experiential agency Sledge

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