Interview with Jennifer Kauf, SVP, Creative Strategy & Brand Marketing, FIRST.

Kabir Uppal
• July 29, 2021
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his article is part of our new Future of Events 2021 Series which will interview a mix of event organizers, consultants, thought leaders, and other event professionals responsible for overseeing events put on by their organization. Our goal with this series is to help event organizers best prepare for the future of events.

The following is an interview we had recently with Jennifer Kauf, SVP, Creative Strategy & Brand Marketing, FIRST.

What are the top trends that will shape the events space in 2021?

JK : A number of trends will continue to shape 2021, the year of transition, such as sustainability, accessibility, inclusivity, and an ever-evolving workplace culture. Shining through as a standout is the use of digital technology, with a focus on data & insights to maximize its capabilities. Organizations successfully paving the way of innovation and efficiency in the events space will be the ones who can identify and adopt this trend, as businesses will shift from being data-generating to data-powered, making use of actionable data and business insights. In the world of B2B, this means data-driven decision making, more insightful integration of marketing and sales, and perhaps most importantly, hyper-personalization. In the world of brand experiences and audiences, this means we are on the cusp of a full-blown revolution.

What are the top mistakes you see organizations make with events?

JK: More of a learning rather than a mistake; given the more recent shift from primarily in-person events to virtual, we’ve seen and continue to see organizations shifting and mimicking their in-person events to digital, exactly as is, without reimagining and planning for the new format. Virtual and hybrid events are unique, and require a different focus in attention on the different audience experiences, the production, event technology and the strategy behind the content and overall experience. At FIRST, we’re focused on challenging patterns and assumptions, digging into client goals and objectives to bring the appropriate recommendations to the table.

What are the keys to a successful event?

JK: It’s about effectively delivering the message to drive the audience to respond in line with the overall goal, whether that’s to do, think, or feel. Today more than ever, content is the cornerstone to achieving a successful event, especially as for the moment, we don’t have people congregated for a singular experience. It’s important to make sure we’re telling an effective, thoughtful and engaging story, and capturing emotion to bring the end user through that narrative. This means standing in the audiences’ shoes which, especially now, can mean a lot of variables! In the virtual and hybrid space there are so many vantage points coming into the experience. Focusing on hyper-personalization and the attendee journey, through multi-channel campaigns, will result in different experiences that are still equal in impact.

What makes events such an important channel?

JK: They provide an environment that fosters real-time engagement between clients, consumers, stakeholders, or whoever the audience might be, and enable messaging to be shared directly founded on human connectivity. It’s why the most important or memorable days of our personal lives are marked by events; they resonate at a more visceral level. It’s a direct channel for communicating a message and building trust in a way that’s memorable to your brand and reputation.

In your own words, what will the future of events look like?

JK: An even stronger, more accessible and advanced channel of communication and engagement! Formats will continue to evolve with new technology, and will continue to be shaped by the learnings of the past year, delivered as a combination of hybrid, digital, and in-person. The end user power of choice will really evolve what it means to provide a brand experience. Face to face and physical interaction is hard to replicate, and we are eager to be in person again, but digital experiences bring so many benefits, including reach, measurability and sustainability. Their multi-channel approach really opens up so much opportunity.
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