As an events business as well as a B2B media publisher, Incisive Media has had to rapidly adapt its events portfolio. Simone Broadhurst, Managing Director of Events at Incisive, explains to the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) which platforms are best suited to the company, the innovation that has taken place over the last few months, and the inevitability of hybrid events in the future.
What made you want to work in the publishing industry?
I always liked the fast-paced, creative, innovative, and fun environment of publishing and the tension and excitement when everyone worked together on a magazine. You felt such pride when the product was printed and on your desk.
Chart your career from the start to where you are now.
After working at a small video publisher, I focused in on marketing and moved onto a larger contract publisher and then moved over to a publisher which produced specialist consumer magazines. Following that I decided to move to Incisive, heading up their marketing department and consumer team, working on titles like Investors Week, Bloomberg Money and a Consumer Show Investor 2000. My career changed after Incisive bought an insurance business, which needed someone to run their six events. I went to work on the portfolio and did everything from recruiting speakers and delegates to organising the logistics and eventually growing that team and taking their six events to 60 over an 8 year period. I went on to run different events portfolios in legal, tech, finance and sustainability across Incisive and for these last two years I have been the MD of events across both tech and finance. I have seen everything during my time at Incisive – 9/11, 7/7, the dot-com bubble – but this has been by far the most challenging crisis that the events industry has ever seen.
How are you finding managing your event team virtually? Do you have any tips for virtual event management?
In terms of managing remotely, we have been working flexibly from home for four years. The transition has therefore been fairly seamless and as a business we have done a lot of things to keep our existing and furloughed teams engaged. I think honesty is important, always asking the team how they feel and getting that engagement with them because it is tough, and everyone is having to learn things at a very quick pace.
What new opportunities and innovation has this crisis brought the Incisive events portfolio?
The biggest innovation for us has been the Deskflix series, which brings together content and virtual events, our markets have really engaged with this new and exciting digital product. We have quickly pivoted to run our roundtables and smaller events online, becoming experts in platforms like Zoom, Fuse and Webex, constantly trialling things to work out what is best. iVent is also a platform which we will be using for our larger events. Professional Pensions Live, due to take place in July will be run over three days online rather than two full days live.
Do you reach larger and different audiences with a virtual event than you would have with the equivalent live event?
I would like to think virtual events open up the opportunity for more people to attend and what I would expect, as we have seen with our webinars, is that we are doubling the reach of the community. By accessing a larger audience, we may even find that it’s a stepping stone into developing more of a global reach.
How can you make virtual events interactive and engaging?
We looked long and hard at this and found that iVent had the most engaging look and feel around it and could excite both our sponsors and delegates. They are fairly established and really understand an event content-led business. We will have pre-recorded content but will also build in live Q&A panels as well as utilising iVent’s networking platform for sponsors and the strong exhibitor area, building up opportunities for sponsors to speak to people directly.
How will this time influence the way you approach contingency planning in the future?
Our T&C’s going forward will be a lot more flexible and will embrace what has happened here. Our new virtual future will be part of all our planning and will focus more on hybrid events. We’ll also think more about how to market our events and will essentially change the way that our events look and feel. We have all been talking about virtual for a long time, but this has accelerated everything.
What’s on your radar?
Looking at and continuing to study and understand all these online platforms. We haven’t found the right tech for our hybrid events which I think needs to be our focus for next year. As a publisher with a mixed portfolio of events, it means we can run our smaller events in the first half of next year and run our larger events in the second half when it becomes safe to do so. We were already looking at increasing our paid for delegate revenue this will be accelerated as a result of COVID-19 with the addition of different pricing models for virtual and face-to-face delegate revenue.
What magazine would you stockpile?
I wish I had stockpiled copies of Vogue. I would have enjoyed sharing the fashion pages with my daughter.