Event Planning Lessons From the Jeopardy! “Greatest of All Time” Tournament

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

The game show’s tournament of champions was a ratings juggernaut, thanks to its memorable contestants and creative format. It also offered a few ideas when it comes to planning unforgettable events.

If you’re a Jeopardy! fan like I am, you probably really enjoyed the show’s “Greatest of All Time” tournament, which wrapped up Tuesday when Ken Jennings was crowned the GOAT champion.

While I selfishly wish it had lasted another few nights, as I was watching, I couldn’t help but think there were some takeaways in it for event planners. Here are three to consider:

Make the format memorable. The GOAT tournament was a good example of how you can slightly tweak a formula that’s always worked to generate buzz. For instance, the game show stuck to its three-round format, but players competed in a match that consisted of back-to-back games that lasted an hour instead of its typical 30-minute, single-game show. And the GOAT wasn’t crowned after winning one match: To keep viewers coming back (which ratings show they did), players competed in a first-to-three-wins series, which meant the show was able to run on consecutive nights to build up excitement. On top of that, the tournament had a special prime-time airing—the show’s first since 1990. As event planners, consider how you can slightly modify a session format or something else that’s always been successful to create renewed interest.

Choose contestants (and conference speakers and facilitators) wisely. The Jeopardy! tournament included the show’s three highest-earning contestants: Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauzer. But they aren’t game show celebrities only because they’re smart and earned millions. Each became known for other qualities that made them interesting to the audience, from how they play the game to their personalities. With the three of them on stage together, viewers got to see how those elements would mix. The outcome was lots of banter among the contestants (which included trash talk both onstage and online), along with plenty of correct answers and smart wagers. Consider who you can feature at your meetings that will get your attendees excited and talking. And if you can put people on stage together and create a dynamic that’s never been seen before, that’s even better.

Offer a prize worth playing for. To woo these contestants back to the game, Jeopardy! had to make the stakes high. That turned out to be $1 million and the title of “Greatest of All Time” for the winner, and $250,000 for each of the runners-up. If you’re hosting a hackathon or pitch fest during your conference, consider offering the winners something meaningful—and no, it doesn’t have to be $1 million. Some money to get started on their winning idea is good, but even better could be putting them in a room with industry leaders who can offer feedback and then serve as champions for the program, product, or service.

If you were watching the GOAT tournament, what other lessons do you think associations can take from it? Let us know in the comments.

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Don’t Downplay Your Members’ Data Privacy Concerns

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More than four-fifths of Americans surveyed by Pew said the risks of corporate data use weren’t worth the benefits. It’s an issue that associations should tread carefully on.

Data collection may be a fact of life for many Americans, but it doesn’t mean they have to like it.

And the fact that they don’t might be just enough to give you pause.

A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that more than 60 percent of people felt that it was not possible to go through life without being tracked by either corporations (62 percent) or the government (63 percent). Despite knowing that such privacy considerations come with the territory, many Americans are uncomfortable with it. A full 81 percent say they have no control over what companies collect, and an equivalent number says that the risks outweigh the benefits of such data collection, which is rampant on sites such as Facebook and Google.

“Americans’ concerns about digital privacy extend to those who collect, store, and use their personal information,” the report’s authors write. “Additionally, majorities of the public are not confident that corporations are good stewards of the data they collect.”

While government data collection raises similar concerns, Americans tend to be more accepting of those risks, with a third of respondents saying the benefits outweigh the risks in that case.

For associations, this state of affairs creates a number of questions, both for how they organize their membership and how they use data. Recent laws and policies such as the General Data Protection Regulation emphasize the need for groups to take the use and storage of data seriously, and they reflect the potential blowback that members could have in the case of a data breach.

But it also shows a place where associations can make their voices known in a big way. Last year, a number of library groups won positive nods after standing up against a policy from the social network LinkedIn, which was requiring users to log in to its learning platform rather than using an anonymized library card number to take online courses.

And there are cases in which data use may even be allowed or desired—the Pew study cites an example in which poorly performing schools share student data with a nonprofit looking to improve educational outcomes, which more survey respondents supported than opposed.

But there are concerns among members that associations may not take the data issue seriously enough—something underlined in a Community Brands study from last year.

“Members view data privacy and security as a top concern for both today and ahead, but there is currently a disconnect with association professionals who are underestimating members’ concerns,” the firm said at the time of the study’s release.

To put this all another way: Don’t underplay the issue of consumer data privacy, because much of the public isn’t doing that right now.

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Daily Buzz: How to Make Your Presenters Presentable

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What you can do to get your conference speakers ready. Also: Don’t ignore your social mentions; learn how to answer them.

Delivering quality presentations will always be a challenge, but organizations should do a better job preparing their speakers, says Dave Lutz, managing director of Velvet Chainsaw.

Several strategies can help you ensure a proficient performance from your presenters. Session-planning calls can be the most effective way to prepare speakers, Lutz says, and they should be about more than logistics. Use them to assess the presenter’s commitment to delivering a quality session, understanding the audience, and making the content relevant or provocative.

Organizations could also beef up their speaker portals and provide resources that will help presenters improve.

“Curate or create short videos or links to resources that cover such topics as writing winning session proposals, PowerPoint and image best practices, copyrights do’s and don’ts, attracting attendance to your session, livestreaming presentation tips, and incorporating audience response systems,” Lutz says.

He notes that the preparation process should vary depending on each speaker’s experience. “For your most trusted presenters, you may have a brief conference call and be soft on deadlines. Conversely, rookie speakers would require that you schedule several calls and be more of a stickler on deadlines.”

Responding to Your Social Mentions

When creating a #socialmedia strategy, there are two things you should focus on:
☝ How you’re talking to your customers
✌ How you’re getting them to respondhttps://t.co/O9u9M5aVpG

— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) January 14, 2020

Audience engagement is a key social media strategy. That includes knowing how to respond to any mention of your organization on social channels, writes digital marketing manager Chloe West for the Sprout Social blog.

“Each time you find a mention of your business on social media, you should make an effort to respond to it. You’ll have an opportunity to interact with people who are already aware of and interested in your brand,” West says.

Whether the mention is positive or negative, it’s important to respond quickly and positively.

“Even if the person mentioning your brand is extremely unhappy, always manage to stay positive and reassure them that you’re going to do whatever you can to make things right for them,” West says.

Other Links of Note

Do your volunteers have little to do? Andrea Holthouser breaks down how to offer more opportunities on the Network for Good blog.

SEO tips. H1 tags aren’t as important as you might think, says Levi Wardell in Association Chat.

Marketing automation. Nonprofits should be leveraging new technology to reach out to their communities, argues Kingsley Allen in Blue Avocado.

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Daily Buzz: Why Event Pros Also Need to Be Event Attendees

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How event professionals can maximize their time as event attendees. Also: Tips to boost your email marketing efforts.

Event professionals shouldn’t just be planning events for others, they should be attending some themselves, writes Nicole Peck on BizBash.

“Regardless of your tenure in the industry, conferences and events are packed with education and activities to help achieve new goals. Where else can you learn, grow, meet new people, and encounter new ideas?” Peck says.

To make the transition from event professional to event attendee, start with a plan: Set a goal to attend at least one new event this year that you have never attended before. Look out for any events that pull you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to think differently, Peck suggests.

Once you’ve chosen an event, spend time on the event website and social media feeds to network ahead of time.

“See who is active in the social community and connect with them in advance. Sort out people and organizations you would like to meet with and set up meetings at the event,” Peck says.

Once you’re at an event, do your best to be present. For example, if you’re not using your phone to take notes or network, put it away. It might also help to break away from your group and find an empty seat.

“Even if you are attending an event with a colleague, do not sit with them! I have connected with the most amazing people because I sat next to [them] on a bus ride or filled an empty seat in the middle of a row,” Peck says.

Post-event, follow up with the people you met. Connect with them on social media and make an effort to get in touch.

Effective Email Marketing in 2020: Add a Personal Touch

Supercharge Your Email Marketing in 2020: 4 Tips – https://t.co/3kETHXQuy4 #assnchat

— MemberClicks (@MemberClicks) January 13, 2020

No matter the email marketing strategy, there are a few things any organization can do to make their campaigns more impactful, says Callie Walker of MemberClicks. One method is to write your email as if it is only going to one member as opposed to your entire membership.

“That one-on-one ‘feel’ is important when communicating via email. Hundreds or even thousands of people may have received that email, but the end-user wants to feel like it was written for them,” Walker says.

Other Links of Note

To hire the right people, interviewers should focus on who the candidate is as a person, says Laura Garnett in Inc.

What kind of content works best on Instagram? HubSpot’s Allie Decker compares the performance of images, GIFs, and video on the popular platform.

What is a blended workforce, and how do we prepare for it? Kaya Ismail breaks it down on CMSWire.

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Should Your Next Conference Have a Plant-Based Menu?

Written by GSF Editor on . Posted in Federation News, news-feed, Uncategorized

This year’s Golden Globes served an entirely plant-based menu for the first time. With more of your attendees going meatless and looking for meetings to have a smaller environmental footprint, should your conference menu be plant-based too?

You may have tuned in to the Golden Globes last Sunday night to find out if your favorite movie or TV show won, to see what the stars were wearing, or to check out who gave the funniest (or most long-winded) acceptance speech.

If you happened to catch Joaquin Phoenix’s speech after he took home the Golden Globe for his performance in Joker, you may have noticed he thanked the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which co-produces the awards show, for serving a plant-based menu as part of its sustainability efforts.

The menu, the first of its kind for any major awards show, included an appetizer of chilled golden beet soup and a main dish of king oyster mushrooms presented and cooked to call to mind scallops.

According to The Washington Post, organizers said the move to go vegan “was meant to send a signal about the impact of animal products on climate change.”

While the menu and stance had its share of both fans and critics, I think it signals what’s likely to be a fast-emerging trend in the conference food and beverage space: creating more sustainable menus.

For example, a North American market research study published late last year found that 35 percent of millennial guests are looking for more vegetarian options on menus. And the International Food Information Council’s 2019 Food and Health Survey found an increased interest in plant-based diets.

Some associations already have been working toward more sustainable menus. After embracing a “meatless Monday” campaign at past annual conferences, the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education introduced an all-vegetarian menu in 2017 for its 2,000 attendees. And Kara Ferguson, a meeting planner with the American Society of Anesthesiologists, told my colleague Tim Ebner in the Fall 2019 issue of Associations Now that it’s part of her job to create a sustainable menu for attendees.

“Associations and groups should absolutely team up and work together to source food that has a low carbon footprint,” Ferguson said. “Plant-based food options are an excellent way to do that. Of course, you’ll always have a few meat eaters, but you can limit items like beef or pork [whose production processes are high greenhouse gas emitters] and do something more environmentally friendly like chicken or turkey.”

In addition, meeting planners should no longer be concerned that caterers and convention centers won’t be able to deliver delicious plant-based meals and menus. For example, Desiree Neal, executive chef for Distinctive Gourmet, the Virginia Beach Convention Center’s onsite caterer, recently told Convene magazine that she’s getting more requests to create plant-based menus and that some of those dishes are cultivated from the venue’s onsite garden. And large convention center caterers like Levy and Centerplate are also putting more focus on plant-based foods. From the looks of it, associations will have a lot more options when it comes to building entirely plant-based menus.

As sustainability becomes more of a priority and as attendee dietary preferences change, how are your conference menus evolving? Please share in the comments.

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Daily Buzz: Develop a Visual Identity to Strengthen Your Brand

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Attracting modern audiences means putting visual content first. Also: Cybersecurity is important for associations, too.

Standing out in a sea of content and raising brand awareness can be a challenge for organizations. To catch the eye of potential members or donors, put an emphasis on visuals, says Amy Balliett in Inc.

“Text-based content isn’t enough if you want to engage today’s audiences,” she says. “To truly thrive in a world that puts visual content first, you need to adopt a visual-first mindset.”

That means taking a new approach to your content marketing strategy. “If you write the text or messaging before planning what types of visual content you’ll be deploying, you’re not really putting visuals first. You should start planning every campaign by asking what types of content your audience is most likely to engage with, and on what platforms,” Balliett says.

As you develop your visual content, establish clear brand guidelines to follow. A consistent style across all platforms will give your organization a visual identity and help raise brand awareness. Balliett recommends developing a visual workbench: a collection of predesigned assets that you can reuse.

“Maybe you need a set of icons that represent your fundamental products or services. Or maybe there’s a stat that you share often because it proves the value of what you have to offer,” she says. “There’s no sense in redesigning an asset from scratch every time. Even if you did so, the different look and feel of each could actually prevent you from developing a more recognizable brand.”

Preparing Your Association for Cyberattacks

We check that our doors lock behind us and zip our bags in heavy crowds. So why aren’t we so good at making sure our online lives are just as secure? https://t.co/yUF42qLvt4

— AssociationSuccess.org (@assn_success) January 6, 2020

If you think cybersecurity is only a concern for large organizations, think again. According to CPO Magazine, half of all cyberattacks are targeted at small businesses.

“Having a conversation about cybersecurity is imperative for any organization,” says Association Success’s Chelsea Brasted. “There is no association that doesn’t have something a cybercriminal would be interested in having, or cutting you off from in exchange for a hefty ransom.”

To combat this, Brasted recommends discussing cybersecurity with all employees, not just the IT department. “Regardless of who gets involved in the conversation, those conversations are required in today’s digital, well-connected world,” she says.

Other Links of Note

Member orientation doesn’t have to be boring, says Tatiana Morand on the Wild Apricot blog.

How can your organization stand out on LinkedIn? Optimize your company page, says Allie Decker on HubSpot.

Experiencing content burnout? Christine Crandell offers four steps to turn your content strategy around, in CMSWire.

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