Business Blog Dilemma – Advice Needed!

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We are having a blog dilemma and we need your help!  I want to refresh and update this blog, now is definitely the time, but this is far from clear cut so I need your advice!  I thought that others may also be puzzling over this (particularly UK business bloggers) and hence why I thought I would create a post about it in the hope that people may be willing to share their expertise and advice and this may help both me and others that are unsure!  I have so many questions about this I thought it may be cathartic to create a post and to hopefully find some answers as a result!  I have included a poll and the opportunity to comment at the end of this post.  I promise to share with you our journey via this blog, whatever the final decision made!

Our Current Blog

Currently our blog is hosted on wordpress.com and independent to our Events Northern Ltd company website, albeit linked via the blog tab from our website to thisWordpress blog.  I love blogging and through blogging I do hope to raise my profile and increase SEO and business for my company, Events Northern Ltd.  However it is a passion for me and blogging is something I really enjoy so I anticipate this will continue regardless of any business opportunities that may or may not arise from it.  By this I mean that I would never want to blog with the single aim of increasing SEO, losing the quality and soul of what I want to write about just to increase rankings.  Generally I do not use my blog too often to promote our own projects and events (rightly or wrongly), I see it more as a way to share my thoughts and expertise on event management.

eventsnortherncogsnew1.jpgI want to have a shiny new look for my blog and there are several magazine style themes that I am interested in using.  I have also bought two exciting domain names: eventandconference.co.uk and eventandconference.management.

Business Blog Dilemmas!

The main dilemmas I am facing are:

  • Should I go self hosted?
  • Should I change the look and theme of my blog?
  • Should my blog move within my company website or use one of my new domain names (and if so which one?!)
  • Or realistically do I need to consider having 2 blogs – one within my website for more company specific posts and another for my usual posts – event management top tips/comment/etc.  Note: I think I would prefer to avoid having two blogs unless it is absolutely essential as my time for blogging is limited!

Secondary questions:

  • Will it be harmful if people arrive on my blog and it looks completely different to the blog they have visited in the past?
  • Can a magazine theme be incorporated within the blog section of my company website if I wanted to go down that route (I actually like the appeal of my blog looking different to our other website pages if I move the blog within the site although the website may be built on WordPress too?)
  • Is there any SEO merit of the other domain(s) pointing to my website or the blog if not used to host the blog?
  • If I go self hosted what will happen if people type in my current blog address – will they automatically be redirected or will there just be broken links?  Is this easy to rectify?
  • What is the best way to make the change to self-hosted and what will be the ongoing charges and other things to think about?
  • Is there a way to back up and edit the blog to ensure I am happy with everything before deleting the old blog/making the change and publishing my new look self hosted blog?
  • Would there be a way to keep the blog separate to the website but link every post/perhaps post the introduction to the full post and then link through if people want to continue reading so the website gets some SEO benefit (so long as the website and blog are not penalized for this as there may be a small amount of duplicated content?)

I understand that the downsides of moving to self hosted are potentially losing some SEO benefit in terms of having a wordpress.com blog but the SEO plug ins I will be able to access via wordpress.org may counteract this?

Why Are We Considering Keeping Our Blog Separate to Our Company Website?

Becki Cross, MD, Events Northern Ltd

New Events Northern website

You probably think that I am crazy/stupid for even considering keeping my blog separate to the company website, due to the SEO benefits we will not take advantage of.  Some of my reasons for considering keeping my blog separate to my website are outlined below.  Thank you to Andrew Percey Founder at Prometheus Internet Marketing for this excellent post verbalising the advantages of keeping a separate blog much better than I could have done!  The reasons which particularly resonated with me are:

  • If you want to promote your blog as its own brand.
  • If you want to promote yourself as a more objective industry expert.
  • If you might want to someday sell the blog but keep the company website.
  • If you might want to someday leave or sell the company but keep the blog.

I am unsure whether either of the last two scenarios will ever materialize as my company and my blog are both my “babies” however “never say never!” I would also add that I would hope to have more guest posting opportunities in the future too which I feel would perhaps be better suited to an independent blog to give an independent voice. Whether someone comes to a blog post and clicks onto a separate page within the website to find out more about Events Northern/the author or from a blog hosted independently to the company website surely that doesn’t make much different to the visitor?

I would also add to this:

  • I want to have a beautiful new look and magazine theme and so I am unsure if that would be possible if housed within the company website
  • I see benefits of using one of the domain names we have purchased which will also allow links back to our company website
  • Am I naive in thinking that there may be some benefits having hopefully a website and a blog listed highly in terms of page ranking?
  • Perhaps in the future I may want to monetise the blog and again I feel that this would be more suited to keeping it separate to the company website

I appreciate however that the best thing in terms of SEO would be for the blog to be fully integrated within my website (e.g. http://www.eventsnorthern.co.uk/blog) which is obviously an appealing prospect, however I am also interested in the weight my new domain names could provide in hosting the blog.

I would appreciate the advice of others knowledgeable in this area as I don’t know where to turn and seem to read conflicting advice. I don’t want to delay too long on the decision as this is only getting harder to know what is best and I presume moving to self hosted gets harder the more posts you have!  I am happy to take on board all advice and completely revise my way of thinking if necessary based on expert opinion!

Please vote in the poll below!  I would really welcome your thoughts in the comments below or please feel free to tweet us @eventsnorthern!  Thank you for any feedback and comment you can give!

 

 

14 Reasons to Attend the Dizzy Heights Festival, 24/05/14, Fleetwood, Lancashire

ABM_1399827365Event: The Dizzy Heights Festival, Fleetwood

Date: Saturday 24th May 2015

Time: Event programme runs from 12 noon – 5pm

Location: Marine Hall and Gardens, The Esplanade, Fleetwood, Lancashire, FY7 6HF 

Click here to create bespoke directions to the Dizzy Heights Festival.

Free parking is available in the sunken car park and free street parking is available around the Esplanade area.

The event launches the regeneration programme, Five for Fleetwood.  Wyre Council has been awarded £1.55m from the Coastal Communities Fund to help regenerate the seaside town.  The building side of the programme has been dubbed Five for Fleetwood as the council will concentrate on five zones: Euston Park, the Promenade, the Leisure Hub, the Marine Lake, and an Ecology zone.  A skate park, splash zone and inclusive play area are among the attractions that will feature in the further development of Fleetwood’s waterfront.

The event will take place in the fantastic setting of the Marine Hall and Gardens along the unique and picturesque coastline of Fleetwood.  The Beatles performed here before hitting the big time and got booed by the audience!

So why should you attend?

1. Free day out!

The event is completely free of charge to attend – a perfect day out for families and all ages

2. Music

There will be live music and showcase performances from local bands throughout the day.

3. Food and Drink

There will be food outlets onsite including a hog roast and award winning ice cream.  The bars will be open at the Marine Hall.  Or bring a picnic!

18#-JB1174. Climbing wall

There is also a climbing wall, not just for the kids but for adventurous adults too.

5. Zip wire

There will be a zip wire that will run a good length of the Esplanade in front of the Mount.

6. Titanic exhibition

Within the Marine Hall don’t forget to visit the Titanic Exhibition, including relics from the time to bring history to life.

7. Business and community stalls

A great mix of business and community stalls will be along the Esplanade.  For instance don’t miss Fleetwood Town FC and mascot, the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue, Fleetwood Rugby Club, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, Fleetwood Festive Lights, the Scouts, pet the animals with Farmer Parrs,  there is the chance to win a Mini and many more stalls at the event.

8. Train down the sea front

A land train will operate up and down the promenade – the perfect way to view the beautiful coastline.

9. Art workshops

Local professional artists will be running drop in arts and craft workshops for families, where they can make all kinds of quality things for free and take them away too!

10. Walk around theatre and performances

There will be ‘dizzy’ and ‘high’ comedy from professional street theatre companies, Larkin About, Bernie Bennet’s Tight Rope Show, and hilarious compering from Bread and Butter Theatre Company and St Joan’s Ambulance. Also there are walkabouts, the Troll and ‘springing’ lifeguards.

11. 3D pavement artUrbanCanvas

Urban Canvas will also be creating a mind-boggling piece of illusionary pavement art on Marine Hall’s colonnade. Although nothing more than chalks and artists pigment, the amazing design will appear to magically rise from the ground – stand on it and photograph yourself from a very dizzy height indeed. Here’s an example of what they’ve done before – and they have said they are saving their best work yet for Fleetwood.

12. See and meet an Olympian and his medals!

British Olympian Peter Waterfield will be diving at the event and is hoping to bring along his many medals (including Olympic silver) for a meet and greet on the day. He has had a very successful career as part of Team GB and most latterly partnered Tom Daley for the 10m synchro dive at London 2012.

13. World record dive attempt

DivingimageFor thrill watchers, La Quebrada, the Mexican high diving company will be displaying during the event, with a climatic attempt at a high dive world record. And yes they were on Britain’s Got Talent! and the producers of Tom Daley’s Splash! show displays.

14. Other surprises on the day!

There will be other surprises on the day – we don’t want to give away everything that we have planned!  We hope to see you there!

Please note that in case of wet weather the event will still run, please dress appropriately for the conditions and we will implement the wet weather plan.

For further event updates please keep in touch via the following social media channels:

Dizzy Heights Facebook Page

On Twitter please follow @wyrecouncil and @eventsnorthern and use the hashtag #DizzyHeightsFest

More information about the Dizzy Heights Festival, Wyre Council

Follow this link to download the Dizzy Heights event flyer and programme.

10 Reasons Why I Love Working on Festivals and Outdoor Events

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetI love organising conferences; that is definitely my forte!  However I get really excited whenever I have the opportunity to work on Festivals and Outdoor Events.  It is always good to have a change from the norm and in my opinion the more varied your event management experiences the better, more rounder Event Manager you become as a result.

As the festival season approaches here are my top ten reasons why I love working on festivals and outdoor events:

1. Festivals and outdoor events are something out of the ordinary, different to an everyday experience.  To me this is what life is about – living and experiencing things out of the norm.

2. You get to observe people experience something special and out of the ordinary.  Festivals are great for people watching!

207866_10151196608346117_475209426_n3. You are working in the great outdoors and it is great to be out in the fresh air (come rain or shine!)!

4.  Often I have a specific role within a bigger picture, working as part of a team.  It is nice to work within a chain of command sometimes, rather then being in overall control.  It also gives me the opportunity to learn from others that are experts managing this type of event.

5.  Festivals and outdoor events have a completely different vibe to them – not at all formal or corporate like the conferences I generally run!

6.  I have been lucky enough to work on some great events with big name performers.  It is always exciting to be in on the back stage gossip! (though my lips are sealed!)

7.  It is unusual to get to go to work in jeans/casual suitable clothing but depending on the role this is often the most practical attire!

8.  At some festivals and events I even get to wear my wellies (and I adore my wellies!)

19.  Outdoor events often include music as an integral part and music is good for the soul and a natural mood booster.

10.  It is really special seeing thousands of people enjoying an experience you helped to create.  That is what being an event manager is all about!

Do you work on festivals and outdoor events?  What do you enjoy the most?  I would love to hear your comments below.

Liebster Award 2

LiebsterBlogAwardUnbelievably I received a second Liebster Award very shortly after receiving my first!  Annie from the OCD Squirrel was kind enough to nominate me.  Annie is a super talented and original writer – I really love her style.  Check out the post and her fantastic blog via this link: http://theocdsquirrel.wordpress.com/

For details about my first nomination, including details of what the Liebster Award is read my earlier blog post: The Liebster Award.

Questions from Annie

1. What do you like to blog about?
I like to blog about the things that interest and inspire me.  First and foremost that is event and conference management, but social media, marketing and business also features!

2. What’s the story behind your blog name?
Hmmm, as it happens my blog name is currently under consideration!  When I started the blog it was simply called Events Northern Ltd which is hardly inspiring!  Now the long winded title is: Conference and Event Management Blog from Events Northern Ltd which is hardly catchy!  The title and theme/style/layout of my blog, as well as whether to go self hosted, are some of the things I am pondering so watch this space!

3. Which blog post of yours are you most proud of?
I wrote a post entitled Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day which explains how to manage your social media presence with limited time.  The post was well received and was the inspiration for a presentation at an annual business event we run.  It also led to an invitation to speak at an event which generated lots of great feedback.

Other than that I felt the need to respond to the ongoing debate Are Event Management Degrees Worthwhile? which was also a well read and shared post.

4. If you could live one day over again, what would it be?
My wedding day!  It was an amazing day but it all went by so quickly so I would love the chance to relive and savour it over again!

5. Tea or coffee? (cheat question: how do you like either?)
Tea earlier in the day and coffee later on usually.  White, no sugar please!  Or lemon and hot water would do nicely too thank you very much.  I must admit though a work I am the worst person in the world when it comes to brewing up!

6. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Probably something from my second school french exchange.  The family I stayed with were farmers and I think they struggled to feed me anything without meat in it so I got water with spaghetti in to eat every evening (no exaggeration!).  It really did not justify being called soup.

7. What do you think of Nicholas Cage?
Now that you mention it he does have a certain “je ne sais quoi!”  I can see the attraction (well minus the long hair and dodgy moustaches at least!).  I have to admit though Annie I do not share your love (infatuation?!) with him!

8. Who was your first celebrity crush?
Phillip Schofield.  When my mother was pregnant with my sister she asked the six year old me what I wanted to call her.  Without hesitation I said “Phillip Schofield.”  Luckily mum and dad settled for a more fitting name!

Then my affections transferred to Paul Heaton from the Beautiful South since the first time I saw them in concert at the age of 14!

9. What is your dream job?
Either:
A. Doing what I am doing now but with more time/focus on blogging, writing, teaching, speaking, marketing, social media and consulting.
B. Being one of the Dragons on Dragons Den (or simply a business angel)
C. Being a librarian

10. What’s your favourite quote from a film?
“Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  Forrest Gump

11. What and/or who inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere – through people and conversations, in the media, online.  Inspiration is rarely a problem, time is generally the limiting factor for me!  My biggest inspiration is my husband, I love bouncing ideas around with him.

11 random facts about me

  • When I was at secondary school I had 3 different jobs – paper round(s), working in a bakery from 6.30am every Saturday morning and making drinks and washing up in a residential care home (I loved talking to all the residents!)
  • I have a degree in event management
  • I enjoy cheerleading and street dance
  • I used to have my tongue pierced
  • I have worked with Mr Motivator
  • I have a Jack Russell called Poppy
  • I don’t know how I managed before I got my tablet (a Hudl) – I love it!
  • I love snowboarding
  • I am a useless cook
  • I have size 8 feet
  • Our dream is to live in France one day….

The blogs I nominate are:

http://www.d2digital.co.uk/blog/default.aspx @d2_digital
http://thesecretwoman.org/ @the_secretwoman
http://fairytaleprettypicture.co.uk/ @alinaisaev
http://www.carlislemarketing.co.uk/ @linzmcwilliams
http://virtuosoassistant.wordpress.com/ @VirtuosoAssist
http://themarketingscrapbook.com/category/blog/ @bethgladstone
http://tigerfishpr.co.uk/blog/ @amandatigerfish
http://www.coomarketing.co.uk/blog/ – @clairenield
http://www.prettythrifty.co.uk/ @_pretty_thrifty
http://aatnweddingfavours.wordpress.com/ @aatn_andrea
http://www.arealbridesguide.co.uk/ @realbridesguide

Questions for the bloggers I have nominated:

  1. Explain your blogging journey
  2. What do you love most about blogging?
  3. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
  4. In your opinion who is the best 90s band or artist?
  5. What makes you mad?
  6. Dog or cat?
  7. What is your main aim/ambition in life?
  8. What are your blogging goals?
  9. What is your favourite book of all time?
  10. Would you carry on blogging even if no-one read your posts?
  11. What is your favourite flower?

Don’t forget to add the link to your post in the comments below so I can have a read!

Happy blogging!

Liebster Award

LiebsterBlogAwardI was absolutely delighted to find out this blog had been nominated for a Liebster Award!  The fantastic Events Blogger Caitlin Kobrak nominated me (read all about it and check out her fantastic blog here > http://www.eventmanagementstudent.com).  Caitlin is a really talented and dedicated blogger and I absolutely love reading her posts.  She is also a well deserving finalist in two categories of the UK Blog Awards 2014!  Thank you so much Caitlin!

So what is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is for bloggers who have fewer than 200 (or according to some variations on the rules 1,000 or 3,000) followers.  Either way I have taken this to be email subscribers to our blog, rather than followers on social media as otherwise we would be ineligible!

Liebster Award – how it works:

  • thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog
  • display the award “badge” on your blog
  • answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • list 11 random facts about yourself
  • nominate up to 11 bloggers and let them know you have nominated them
  • set 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  • post a comment on the blog post of the person that nominated you so they can read the post

I found this post helpful when reading up on it: The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award.

Caitlins questions to me

1. Why did you start blogging?
The thought really appealed to me – any excuse to talk and write about the world of events! I kept hearing about the importance of blogging for business too and so Gemma from the UK Blog Awards helped me set up and start the blog in June 2011.

2. What is you favourite type of post to write & why?
I really enjoy taking a topic and relating it back to event management and also giving hints and tips to relate something to peoples own event projects.  For this reason I particularly enjoyed doing Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) and writing posts inspired by recent events such as What the Arctic Monkeys can teach you about event management and Event management lessons from the Apprentice.  I think it is healthy to take a subject area or hot topic and give it a twist or think about it differently.

3. If you had a super power what would it be?
Time travel would be good!

4. What do you feel has been your biggest achievement in life so far?
On a professional level my biggest achievement has been setting up Events Northern Ltd and celebrating 10 years in business in June of this year (the company was incorporated in 2004).

5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would ban grumpy, miserable and rude people!  Life is short and there is simply no need for it!

6. If you could speak to your past self, what would you say?
Don’t waste time worrying; everything works out for the best in the long run.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still running conferences and events but hopefully with more time for blogging, writing, consulting and speaking!

8. Who Inspires you the most?
I am lucky enough to have heard speeches from many inspirational individuals over the years such as Jamie Andrew OBE, Michelle Mone OBE and Phil Jones.
I look up to successful entrepreneurs such as Sir Alan Sugar, Sir Richard Branson, Karren Brady, Luisa Zizzman, etc.
Julius Solaris from the Event Manager Blog is really inspiring from a blogging and events perspective.

9. What is the one goal you are working towards?
One day I will write a conference management book!  It hasn’t yet progressed beyond the many ideas in my head but watch this space!

10. If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
Any of the inspirational figures I listed above!  Or Paul Heaton….. (of the Beautiful South/Housemartins fame).

11. Whats your top number one place you want to visit?
Without a doubt New Zealand is top of my list.

11 random facts about me

  • I love the colour red
  • I am proud of my Yorkshire roots
  • On a summer holiday as a child I managed to cycle into the swimming pool (something my family will never let me live down!)
  • I have only missed one V Festival in the last ten years
  • I haven’t eaten meat since the age of 8
  • I wanted my parents to call my sister Phillip Schofield?!
  • Caipirinhas are my favourite cocktail
  • I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School (needless to say I didn’t get in!)
  • During university I worked in the call centre for a betting company
  • I met my husband on a summer holiday in Magaluf when I was 21
  • My ultimate luxury is a hot bubble bath with my Kindle!

I nominate the following blogs/bloggers:

http://theeventsgirl.wordpress.com/ @theeventsgirl
http://eventsglos.wordpress.com/ @eventsglos
http://gemsinlondonblog.com/ @duport1982
http://theeventure.wordpress.com/ @zziwd Emily
http://www.gleanin.com/blog @gleanin
http://evvnt.com/category/tips-tricks/ @evvnt
http://event-wide.co.uk/category/blog/ @event_wide
http://joanna-isms.blogspot.co.uk/ @joanna_isms
http://mackskyevents.wordpress.com/ @eventcornwall
http://jemimagibbons.com/ @jemimag
http://www.digienable.co.uk/news @digienable

My questions to the nominated bloggers

  1. When and why did you start blogging?
  2. Describe your blog
  3. What is your favourite colour?
  4. What are your blogging aims for the future?
  5. How do you find inspiration?
  6. What is your ultimate indulgance?
  7. What is your ideal job?
  8. How much time do you spend blogging each week?
  9. What is your worst habit?
  10. Tell us about the best event you have ever been to?
  11. Where is your favourite place in the world?

Nominated bloggers – don’t forget to leave a comment with a link to your blog post below so I can have a read!

Unbelievably I received a second Liebster Award very soon after receiving this first award, which was great as I got to nominate more blogs and spread the love!  Read about it here: Liebster Award 2

What the Arctic Monkeys Can Teach You About Event Management

http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/poll/2014/feb/20/alex-turner-brits-speech-what-did-you-think

Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire via The Guardian

One of the major talking points from the Brit Awards 2014 is the Arctic Monkeys acceptance speech for Best Album (their second award of the evening).  Alex Turner certainly divided opinion with his talk of sludge, swamps and rock ‘n’ roll.  People seemed to love or loathe it!  Watch the full clip at the end of this post or for comment see Alex Turner’s Brits speech – what did you think?).

At the end of his monologue Alex invites the Brits organisers to “invoice me for the microphone if you need to” and drops the mic to the ground.

As event organisers it struck me that this incident can remind us of few valuable lessons!  Here are the 5 things the Arctic Monkeys can teach us about event management:

1. Always have a plan B.  In this case it was a replacement mic!  Try to plan for the unexpected, including technical malfunction, whenever possible.

2. Be alert at all times during the live event and ready to react quickly.  In this case the sound technicians swiftly muted the microphone before it smashed to the floor.

3. People will always over or under run their allocated time.  However well you brief people, plan and rehearse timings, give cues, timing warnings, etc speakers and performers will inevitably always finish sooner or later than you have planned.  The key is dealing with it effectively to get the schedule back on track.

4. Never underestimate how unpredictable musicians/celebrities/creatives can be!  We have come across a fair few “divas” and egos in our time, particularly when working backstage at festivals and concerts.  People skills, diplomacy and patience are a must for Event Managers!

Another example of this from the Brits was Harry Styles from One Direction being at the toilet and arriving on stage half way through the rest of the group accepting an award!   

5. Controversy can be great for an event in terms of driving discussion, social media and press coverage.

Watch all of the action via this clip:

I truly think the Arctic Monkeys are lyrical geniuses and I am a big fan of their music; however if I am honest this act seemed completely unnecessary, forced and decidedly un-rock ‘n’ roll to me!  However it was certainly more entertaining and thought provoking than some of the other predictable acceptance speeches we heard on the evening!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!  In your eyes is Alex Turner a legend or a loser for his speech and subsequent actions dropping the mic?  What else can we as event managers learn from this incident?

Is This the Best Event Thank You Gift Ever?

Event thank you giftOver the years we have been lucky enough to receive lots of lovely and unexpected thank you gifts from happy clients.  These have ranged from thank you notes, flowers, wines, chocolates, teddy bears and other token gifts.  

I always think that it is really lovely when people do take the time to send a formal thank you post event; after all we are just doing our job and it is our job to ensure that every project is a success!  It is however wonderful to be appreciated.

In this age of digital and electronic communication though I wonder if traditional/formal gifts are becoming less common?  And if so will that make them even more treasured when received?

Flowers as a business thank you gift Over the years myself and the team have even received gifts from delegates and attendees attending our events, little trinkets, foreign delicacies and good luck charms from other countries have been a wonderful surprise – for example see the wonderful wooden carved and painted horse keyring pictured below received from an international delegate at one of our conferences.

Horse trinket thank you from international delegate

When clients ask our advice or ask us to arrange thank you gifts for speakers/special guests we always try to be inventive.  We find the best gifts are not necessarily the most expensive gifts but rather the items that offer a reminder of the event itself or location and I think my own favourite thank you gift really proves this!

Favourite Event Thank you Gift

My favourite business thank you gift however will possibly never be surpassed (picture right).  To explain; in May 2013 we ran a conference in Bad Pyrmont, Germany, which is near the town of Hameln (Hamelin), which is famous for the legend of the Pied Piper.  On the last day the organising committee that I had been working on behalf of handed me this book depicting the tale, complete with a hand written note on the back page.  The note reads:

Dear Becki
Thank you so much for shaping this SOL2013 story with us. You were key to making this happen and soooo contributed to the flow of this experience.
It’s a pleasure to watch with what passion you do your work, your skilled effictivity, the respectful way you work with your team, the lightness and freshness you bring to the event. You’ve got brilliant leadership skills and if we organised SOL conferences professionally, we’d partner up with you each year.
It was easy, quick (amazingly quick) and very pleasant to work with you.
Thank You!
Penny, Annie, Christoph, Anton, John

Event thank you gift personal messageAlthough the book itself probably only cost a few Euros the sentimental value of the gift is un-measurable!  This is the perfect token in my eyes – it entwines the memory of the event and unique culture and folklore of the location with such a personal and heartfelt note of thanks which they have taken time to compose.  I will treasure this forever and pass it down through my family for them to feel proud too!

chocolate thank you gift received for speaking at an event

What is the thank you gift that means the most to you?  

How do you like to thank speakers and special guests at your events?  

I would love to hear your comments below….

How To Maximise Tweets at your Next Conference, Seminar or Workshop

We are big believers in social media and it is an essential and integral part of almost every event we run nowadays.  Twitter is often the platform of choice and can really enhance the event experience before, during and after the event.  Even some small events we have run with only 70 attendees have trended on Twitter.  So how can you maximise tweets for your next conference, seminar or workshop?  Here are some of our top tips for before, during and after the event!

 

Dedicated Event Twitter Profile

Consider creating a dedicated event Twitter profile, particularly if the event isn’t just a one-off.  This is more likely to appeal specifically to the target audience and avoid annoying your regular loyal followers.  You can also then include more specific information in your Twitter bio such as event date, location, hashtag and website address.

If you do this ensure you start working at and building your community well in advance of the event date as a profile with no followers can be off-putting or even detrimental to the event brand.

Event Hashtag (#)

Check that your preferred event hashtag isn’t already in use by doing searches on Twitter in advance.  If it is in use you will have to choose a different variation.  Hashtags should be as short and memorable as possible to maximize usage.

When the hashtag is decided ensure you start using it and send regular tweets to start growing your community and reach.

Make sure all event stakeholders are aware of the event hashtag and commit to using it and sharing content, particularly clients, partners, sponsors, speakers, staff and exhibitors.

Include the chosen hashtag everywhere – on the registration site, your email footer, on all event literature, on Lanyrd, Conferize and other event listings.

Twitter Handles (@)

Ask your attendees to share their Twitter handle (@username) when they register for the event.  This allows you to start following them or perhaps give them a shout out to thank them for registering.

Likewise ensure you have a current list of speakers, sponsors, clients and partners Twitter handles too.  If a speaker uses an organisation and a personal Twitter account it is always best to check which should be publicized.

Registration Confirmation Email

Include the event hashtag and Twitter handle on the automatic confirmation email sent to all attendees when they register for the event.  Ask them to start following you and using the hashtag to tweet.

Twitter List

You may find it useful to create a Twitter List to listen, keep track and quickly check content from those attending a specific event.  You may want to make this public for others to see or keep the list private just for your reference.

Event Marketing

Ensure you follow the 80/20 rule – no more than 2 tweets in every 10 should be promotion of the event otherwise you risk alienating your followers (you have been warned!).  We favour sharing interesting and relevant content, asking questions and engaging.  For example we like to share research, blog posts, content posted by speakers, media articles, guidance, etc.

We would recommend a minimum of three tweets a day but this depends on the event, the audience and how much relevant content you have!  Sometimes every hour would be more appropriate and this should include evening and weekends too.  We find it is most efficient to pre-schedule tweets in big chunks and just check in regularly (or set up notifications) to respond back to any mentions, RTs, new followers, etc.

Don’t forget to ask your followers questions.  Maybe you want to know their opinion or ask them to comment and help shape the event in some way.

Your followers may also want to be updated about what is going on behind the scenes, announcements, how the event is progressing, what the team is working on, teasers about what one of the speakers is going to talk about, etc.

Attendee Information

Give attendees a reminder of who to follow and how to tweet in the delegate information (directions, programme and other important information) that is sent out pre event.  We generally send this one to two weeks in advance which is often when the number of people tweeting about the event really increases.

Twitter Guidelines

We sometimes create Twitter guidelines with facts, figures, stats and other interesting content to encourage easy scheduling and posting by key stakeholders.  Some content may be embargoed until the day of the event and if so the content, date and time should be specified.

List the Event Hashtag and Speaker Twitter Handles on Printed Materials

We like to include the event hashtag and the correct Twitter handles for each of the speakers on the event programme and speaker biographies.  Also ensure that the hashtag is on the cover page of the event folders or brochure and signage.  Make it as easy as possible for people to tweet by providing the information in relevant places for them, otherwise they may not bother.

Badges

If space allows add the hashtag to the badges for quick reference!

Pre-schedule Tweets

Event days are so busy it doesn’t always leave us much time for Tweeting.  Often we will pre-schedule some basic tweets for the day ahead e.g. “if tweeting about the xxx event please use the hashtag #xxx” or facts and figures from the Twitter guidelines and thank yous to sponsors, etc.

WiFi

Whether or not a venue has good, reliable, free and easily accessed WiFi network can make or break whether a venue is booked or not.  Unfortunately this lets down so many venues and obviously can have an effect on the volume of tweets.  You can bring in suppliers with technology to boost the WiFi capacity or provide a dedicated WiFi network if not is available or up to scratch.  As a back up also try to ensure a good 3G signal is available to all.

Chair/MC/Host Introduction

In the Chair briefing notes encourage him or her to mention the Twitter hashtag during the introduction and to keep phones switched on but turned to silent.  It is good to let attendees know that it is ok to use mobile devices in this way in case they are reticent (particularly true the older the audience is).

Presentation Slides

Encourage speakers to include their Twitter handle and the event hashtag on their presentation slides (e.g. as a header/footer/slide background) and add to the holding slide shown as the speaker takes the stage.

Elect Dedicated Event Tweeters

We like to elect dedicated event tweeters to share content and updates from the event and speakers.  It really works to have live tweeting summarizing the key points from each presentation, repeating questions asked by speakers, sharing stats, pictures, short video, etc.  This encourages RTs and engagement and also allows those that can’t attend the event in person to see what they are missing.

These event tweeters are also tasked with checking the feed and responding promptly to any questions asked about the event.  They can pass on any feedback to the event manager (e.g. the room is too warm).

Twitter Walls

Outside of the speakers presentations (e.g. at lunch and breaks) we like to show the event Twitter feed on the big screen.  This doesn’t cost any extra as it is equipment that is already in place and so you should make use of it.  Sometimes we will have permanent Twitter walls via plasma or digital screens around the room or in the networking areas.  This can often be a good ice breaker for attendees with the Twitter feed sparking conversations between delegates.

Event App

We find that even those that are not active on Twitter like to view the discussion and buzz around the event.  Some event apps (such as the event app from Advanced Event Solutions) allows the feed to be viewed easily which is a real hit with attendees.

Twitter Gimmicks

Use a tool/gimmick to encourage tweeting volume e.g. a robot that blows bubbles with every tweet sent using the event hashtag (we are considering buying one of these to use at our events and to hire out to others!).  We have also heard about a similar product that fills a balloon with more air with each tweet until it finally launches!

wpid-IMG_20131121_095157.jpgCompetitions

You may want to consider running a competition on Twitter e.g. encouraging pictures to be taken and shared, filling in the blanks in a sentence, coming up with an idea, etc.

This picture was taken at EIBTM where @MeetMrHolland provided a prop to encourage pictures to be taken and shared.

Ask for Feedback

Twitter can be a great way to gauge how well the event was received and the highs and lows.  It is easy for people to feed back via Twitter and can be really valuable, even if only in 140 characters!

Post Event

Don’t just suddenly stop tweeting after the event has finished!  Continue the buzz afterwards by sharing highlights, feedback, comments, etc.

We like to create a Storify for some of our events (see http://storify.com/eventsnorthern) and to share event pictures, survey results, videos, blog posts, etc after the event is over.

 

We hope that you found this post useful and that you will see the benefits if you implement these tips before your next event!  In the comments below we would love to hear your top tips for maximizing tweets at events – before, during and afterwards.  Also do you think we should buy the Twitter bubble blowing machine we mentioned?

 

Related Blog Posts:
Social Media in 10 Minutes a Day

 

Conference Day Essentials for Event Managers

We have lost count of the number of conferences and events we have organised over the years but there are certain essentials which we ensure are on hand at every single event we organise.

We started putting together our list, which soon rattled up to 20 conference day essentials which are outlined below!

Becki at sound desk European Healthy Stadia Conference - 21 March 2013 - 0271. Memory sticks

On conference days I generally have a lanyard with 2 memory sticks around my neck.  Saved on the pen drives are individual copies of every presentation received in advance (with PowerPoint presentations saved in 2010/2013 but also saved down to 97-2003 version too and offline versions of Prezi presentations and video files).  This not only makes the loading process streamlined on the morning of the conference but also enables me to save the final versions of the presentations at the end of the day (there will almost always be changes and tweaks or even brand new presentations uploaded during the course of the conference which I want to ensure I have the final copy of).  Memory sticks can occasionally corrupt or malfunction so we don’t leave anything to chance by only having one copy (if I am honest I will often have four or five copies in total on site!).

2. Mobile Phone

Speakers, clients, staff and other important guests all have my mobile number and are urged to contact me at any time of the day or night if they need to.  Once the event gets underway though I am in the main room, my phone is on silent and text messages become an essential form of communication between me and rest of the team, messaging that a speaker has arrived, checking that catering is in place and ready on time, letting staff know if we are running to time or slightly behind schedule, giving a tally of final numbers that have checked in and other vital information.

3. Event Managers Box

Our event managers box is a treasure trove of useful items which always seem to come in handy.  It includes items such as gaffa tape, scissors, bluetack, velcro, flipchart paper and markers, post it notes, string, stapler and staples, cable ties, elastic bands, string, pens, plain paper, spare badges, tape, safety pins, business cards and lots more.  We have these items in an easy transportable plastic crate and time and time again it is worth its weight in gold!

4. Spare Printed Event Programmes

However many times you circulate this in advance and hand out copies within the delegate folders you will always need multiple spare copies on hand at the lectern or top table, to pass to the audio visual technicians, Chair, speakers, staff and anyone else who loses their copy.  Even if you have an event app don’t scrimp on spare copies of these!

5. Hard Copies of Other Important Information

I also ensure that I have hard copies and spare copies of any important information I may need to access or share quickly.  Typically this is extra copies of the Chair Notes, Staff Briefing, dietary requirements and Twitter speaker details as a minimum.

6. Watch

I do my utmost to ensure that every event we run keeps to time as accurately as possible.  To do this I need a watch that can be read easily and accurately with a simple glance rather than getting my phone out each time.  Apparently wearing a watch is becoming a thing of the past but for event managers on conference days it is a very wise move!

7. Bottle of Water

Event days can be hard work and we often cover miles during the course of an event (wearing a pedometer is always enlightening!).  You can also spend a lot of time talking -welcoming people, giving briefings, directing people and so forth.  A bottle of water is wise to keep you hydrated as inevitably you are briefing a speaker or making some adjustments when the refreshment breaks are taking place and so miss out on a brew!

8. Back up of Important Information/Remote Access to the Office

When I am on site at an event I also make sure I have the essential documents and information for the event and other forthcoming events at my fingertips in digital format if I need them.  Time and time again you just need to check on something unanticipated or adapt the event PowerPoint holding slide or signage template and so having the files saved to a pen drive and/or being able to log in remotely to your office computer is a valuable time saver.

9. Pens and Paper

Have a good stock of pens and paper because you are the first person people will turn to when they need them!  I always seem to hand out pens “left, right and centre” on event days and inevitably you don’t get them back again!  You don’t want to be left short when you need to write down an important note to self for quick reference.

#-Healthy Stadia Conference 23910. Timing Cards

I have laminated 5 and 10 minute timings cards and a red skull and cross bones (to signify that time is up – get off the podium!).  I find this is a really simple but effective way to warn speakers when they are approaching the last 10 and 5 minutes of their presentation slot and when they need to wrap up as a matter of urgency.

11. Wireless Mobile Mouse and Laser Pointer

Even if a speaker is happy to stand at the lectern a wireless mobile mouse is an tool appreciated by almost all speakers to advance slides, particularly experienced and academic speakers.  The laser pointer can also be invaluable, particularly when explaining complex data.

12. Laptop, Speakers and Printer

We generally always aim to have a spare laptop available, as well as a printer and audio speakers “just in case.”  This is so useful if a member of staff needs to create a notice or print something quickly – otherwise you can wait for half an hour or more to trouble the venue to do it, particularly if they don’t have a dedicated conference office/business services.  Likewise if a speaker decides to play a video in their workshop without notifying you in advance it is great to be responsive and oblige them.

13. Tablet

Quickly I am wondering how I managed without my tablet in every area of my life!  I find it particularly valuable on event days though in terms of managing social media accounts and being responsive.

14. Radios and Headsets

On larger events radios and headsets/earpieces are worthwhile, particularly if phone reception is intermittent.  Communication is key and on large events they can save a lot of leg work and by communicating to the team collectively – much more efficiently than your mobile phone.

15. Arrow Signs

We plan and think about signage requirements on our site visits before the event but arrows always come in useful!  We have plenty of laminated arrows in our event managers box and they regularly get utilized!

16. Chargers

Your smartphone and tablet will gobble power on event days so don’t forget your chargers.  Being out of contact is not an option!  Likewise you can often come to the rescue of a speaker in distress if you have a compatible charger they can borrow for a quick power top up.

17. Twitter List of all the Speakers

Twitter is a great asset to many events and we want to encourage as much social media activity and buzz as possible.  Generally we will try to add Twitter handles to our speaker biogs and encourage the speakers to include this prominently on their presentation slides.  Make sure you have a quick reference list to hand though for tweets on site that can’t be pre-scheduled.

18. Items to Keep You Looking Presentable

Deodorant.  And hairbrush.  And lipgloss.  Basically bring along anything you need to keep you looking presentable, however early the start or however long the day!

19. Snacks

Sometimes there isn’t time for eating and other times you simply don’t want to be away from a minute of the event!  It is therefore wise to pack a cereal bar or snack to keep your sugar levels topped up.

20. Comfortable Shoes

I love my heels but I wouldn’t dream of wearing them on an event day.  I am there to do my job quickly and efficiently rather than to look pretty.  Practicalities win every time!

We would love to hear about your essentials or any items we have missed from our list in the comments below!

Event Trends 2014

#-Healthy Stadia Conference 039Last year we wrote a blog post on Conference Trends 2013.  Reading back over the post we think that we predicted the year ahead fairly accurately (even if we do say so ourselves!) and so here is our post looking forward to 2014….

Although some sectors seem almost immune to the economic downturn we have witnessed that it is really tough and complete “doom and gloom” in other areas.  We know our public sector and NHS clients are finding the spending cuts very deep which is heartbreaking and frustrating for them.  There is no doubt that the North of England has suffered significantly from the economic downturn and is taking much longer than the South to recover.  Nevertheless as we enter 2014 the mood overall seems to be lifting and the business outlook seems to be more buoyant.  Dare we hope that we are finally over the worst of it?

For Events Northern Ltd we have some really great projects confirmed and in the pipeline for the year ahead.  We are also really fired up by our recent/forthcoming pitches, presentations, meetings and proposals for some other really exciting events we REALLY hope we get the opportunity to work on!  Already we have had 3 clients clamouring over one event date too.  We hope that all these indicators are positive signs that things are definitely “on the up.”

Nevertheless as you would expect budgets are still tight and as event managers it is up to us to work wonders, save our clients money and ensure we stick to the available budget, however small (see our post Is Your Event Management Company Saving You Money?).  This should be normal practice in our opinion anyway but it is even more vital currently.

The first thing that many companies do in times of uncertainty is cut their marketing budget, which often also means curtailing their event plans.  However the smart companies realise that this is counter-productive and that to survive they must be brave and invest or keep spending in these key areas.

We are still seeing very short lead times for certain projects as clients battle with numerous pressures.  In terms of organising an event it is definitely true that the more time the better though to enable us to fully achieve the objectives.  On the flip side it is also heartening and wise to see other clients approaching us at least 9 or 12 months in advance to discuss event ideas and start the event planning and marketing process in plenty of time.

Demonstrating Return On Investment (ROI) in every event project is more vital than ever before.  Determine at the start of the project the aims and objectives of the event and specific tangible targets and ensure that these are delivered or ideally exceeded in full every time.

cross platform social media managementThese are truly exciting times for business and for the events industry in terms of social media.  Every Event Manager should have embraced social media wholeheartedly and have an excellent working knowledge for all platforms relevant to their event communities and target audiences.  Some are however still burying their heads in the sand and missing the huge opportunity social media presents in terms of engagement, marketing, enhancing the live event experience and ensuring the longevity of each project.

Online registration sites are finally developing and becoming more beautiful, social and sophisticated.  It is great to see providers such as Evolero emerging and this is a platform I am keen to try out on a relevant event project during 2014.

People are accessing data and websites on the move through their phones and tablets.  It is really important to check that all web content, including event registration sites, are optimised across multiple devices.

Although the UK business blogging community is very strong the events industry seem to be slow on the take up, as discussed in my blog post The Event Industry and Blogging: Are Event Managers Missing a Trick?  I am sure 2014 will see a strong rise in the number of UK Event Professionals blogging.  Furthermore I think that Event Managers should develop closer relationships with key players in the blogging community and engage with them better on relevant event projects.  This is certainly something I am keen to explore and find out more about.

Video marketing and vlogging are also areas which are growing in importance.  These are definitely exciting areas we want to incorporate more whenever the opportunity arises.

The modern delegate rightly demands more and expects a truly slick and professional event experience every time!  If you are running an event or conference internally with little previous event management experience we definitely recommend that you should talk to and enlist help from a professional event management company such as Events Northern Ltd otherwise you risk damaging your company brand and reputation (and also being overwhelmed and stressed by the enormity of the task of organising the event itself!).

The modern delegate expects to arrive at an event to be checked in by a slick registration check-in system such as the barcoded registration management system we have developed.  We can’t believe that we occasionally still attend events without any badges (not helpful for networking and mingling) or with scruffy, handwritten badges or labels.

Event App from Advanced Event Solutions LtdEvent Apps are also becoming better utilized to enable attendees to have information at their fingertips at all times and also from an environmental and sustainable perspective (as it can reduce the amount of printing required).  Through our sister company Advanced Event Solutions Ltd we have developed a fantastic event app which is fully brandable and customizable and includes all of the key information such as venue information, directions, event agenda, speaker biogs, sponsor and exhibitor information and event feedback.  Also the app is able to offer live voting and results without the need of keypads and can integrate with our barcoded registration management system if you so wish.

We are itching to run our first truly hybrid event!  A hybrid event combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component.  We are seeing more and more hybrid events taking place year on year and it opens up a huge wealth of possibilities if done well.  Some people are nervous that streaming live content will detract from the live event or stop people from paying to attend in person however there is plenty of evidence of the virtual audience really enhancing the overall event experience.  Participating online in this way also sometimes gives the confidence to make the decision to attend an event in person after first participating as an online delegate, which otherwise would not have happened.

We hope you have enjoyed reading our thoughts on the year ahead in terms of the events industry.  We would love to hear your own predictions and whether you agree with our suggestions?