Questioning ‘FACTS’

Evan Dennis

Photograph by Evan Dennis (Via Unsplash)

I’ve got a confession to make, everything I say to you is my opinion. It might be shocking to know that actually everything I have ever written on here, everything I have ever said in person, is just my opinion ruffled with some carefully chosen words to make it seem more fact led.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, when I write posts aptly named and with step by step guides those opinions and views often just come from my own experiences, or from a handful of friends and peers. It is NOT a universal recognised view-point & if you follow those steps there is no guarantee that you will end up in the same position.

Today I’m wanting to give you room, though and reason to really consider and question ‘facts’ given.

I’m giving you an open card to disagree & argue with me.

When I first started out in work I would sit in meetings and take other people’s points and views head on as facts. If someone declared that x was the answer, I would naively accept that without any type of questioning (even if I did have questions & different views). I thought that because someone was my superior, has years of experience and is viewed as an expert, that what they say must be true.

And obviously in certain areas this is right. doctors, engineers, mechanics, scientists, teachers etc these people have a wealth of knowledge and understanding, have studied subjects that are filled deep with facts and statistics. So when they tell you something it is often true.

But when we enter some other industries, the same principles aren’t in place. Because they are not built on needing defined data to seem true. When someone backs information with statistics that is fantastic, it is a little more than just someone’s opinion that stems for them experiencing something one time & their friends also having been through that same situation.

But lets not take that as a complete fact. I was reading a consumer study that was defining ‘Millennial Consumer’ and what they are interested in, the value they can bring to a business.

They made sweeping statements about these group of people, firstly without defining the age range they class Millennial as some people say 18-32 others say 18-28 – without clarifying who these people are, M or F? Their ethnicity, location?

All of that is bad enough BUT just guess how many people this study was based on?

How many interviews do you think you need to make a statement about US Millennial’s, where the population is over 300,000,000?

1,500 

They created a study looking at a tiny % of people who might be classed in this area. Topping it off we don’t have any information on if they work, level of income, their background, upbringing!

The thing is  you could have 2 people, both 25 and both live in London, but one person comes from a working class family and is in a job earning minimum wage. The other went to private school, works part-time & has financial support coming in from their family. They are not going to be interested in the same things, their view points, opinions are going to differ & that is why lumping them in the same generalised statement is unfair.

It might be based from statistics BUT sometimes you’ve got to question what that really means.

Don’t take facts at face value!

imadamnstudent1

@Imdamnstudent@blogbykobrakFacebook & Instagram

5 tips on making 2nd year *(any year)* proactive

Luke Chesser

Picture by Luke Chesser

January & February seem to have sped on by at lighting speed! How are we at the end of the month all ready?!

This post is written by the wonderful Latisha Springer, who as a second year event management student at London Met is in a much better situation to pass on some tips & advice to fellow (and future) 2nd year students.

I think I’ve finally reached the conclusion that 5 years since started university & 2 years since graduating, I’m maybe not be in the best person to pass on some tips. So without further delay here are Latisha’s 5 tips to get the most out of your time at university;

REALISE YOUR GREATNESS, UNLOCK YOUR POTENTIAL

Cliché as it sounds, great things can only happen once you believe and know that you have something great to offer. Woe is me attitudes/ being afraid of what’s out there leaves you in the corner.

Highlight, your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

GET A MENTOR or GET CLOSE TO SUCCESSFUL EVENT PROFS

It’s great to network with fellow event students, go out for drinks , etc but ultimately, the aim of coming to university is to ensure you are better prepared for your career when you graduate.

There is only so much that lecturers can teach you – it is IMPERATIVE that you seek mentoring and guidance from people who you aspire to be like one day.

Look at their attributes and their work ethic and map out what it will take for you to get to where they are (most of the time its sheer, determination, hard work, transparency and having a large social capital)

FOR GOODNESS SAKE BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

I can’t count how many times students have said to me that they want to join Twitter but they don’t know how to use it. Or, my favourite ‘Oh yes I have Twitter but I can’t remember my login details’ – so, basically, it’s inactive *long sigh*.

Social media isn’t just for posting delicious meals or nights out with friends or hastagging current trends. I have found internships, established relationships and acquired paid jobs through Twitter alone.

LinkedIn is also a platform that not a lot of us Event Students utilise, Myself included. When I do log in, I am amazed at how many people have viewed my profile that I have never met before.

Keep up to date and stay active!

DON’T PANIC!

A lot of event students in their 2nd year feel that there’s just not enough time in a week so make the time for extra curricular activities. We stress ourselves out with the impending doom of coursework, assignments, etc.

This is the wrong approach.

We have to understand that education and experience go hand in hand. Take a breath and organise yourself – we are event students after all!

MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

Last but not least, your happiness, your social life IS important.

I don’t mean you have to go out and party every week, but, you do have to know when to draw the line when you are doing too much and overloading yourself. Don’t allow the things that matter to you suffer.

For example, I had a job as a receptionist this time last year. It was highly demanding and the pay wasn’t worth the endless duties I had to perform and late nights (plus it was not related to events in the slightest). I had little to no time to see my family/go out and at times I was too tired to attend lectures. I made the decision to hand in my 2 weeks’ notice and for a moment, I panicked about how I would sustain myself. However, my decision re-focused my efforts towards seeking event jobs and internships and I was successful in my search.

Tom Sodoge

Picture by Tom Sodoge

It is advice & tips like those that I think might have kicked me into gear a little earlier than I actually did! Thanks Latisha 🙂 Also if you have additional pointers that you think might help fellow students let us know – either in the comments below or via the wonderful world of twitter!

As a lot of you are aware, and may currently be undertaking, most second year event management courses involve having to organise and plan your own live event.

Latisha & her group are running a event on the 3rd of March, called Take Me To Rio

An event supporting SportsAid Charity by bringing the celebratory vibes of the 2016 Olympics & Rio Carnival to London! So if your free next week & looking for a great evening out then pop on over here to the EventBrite page grab some tickets, or over to facebook!

Even better to be supporting fellow event students! #TakeMeToRio

It is always great to see individuals being proactive and engaged & taking the initiative to really engage with the industry – it’s these small and simple steps that will help once you graduate!

imadamnstudent1

@Imdamnstudent@blogbykobrakFacebook & Instagram

ISES UK: What should events look like as the sector stands right now?

ISES UK Event Jan

Picture taken by me (Instagram)

Last Thursday (21st January 2016) I headed down into trendy Shoreditch to check out Dinerama for the first ISES UK event of 2016.

If you didn’t already know International Special Events Society is an association for ‘event industry professionals that are passionate about knowledge, networking and event creativity.

I’ve been part of the Education Committee & a member of ISES UK for the past 9 months, so whilst bias to a fair amount of their offering I do truly wish I had known about the value you can gain from associations when I had still been a student.

The connections you can build with current industry professionals, hearing about topics that companies and leaders within the industry are discussing, but more importantly showcasing you commitment and engagement with the industry is incredibly valuable.

I would highly recommend having a look at the different ones available; both ISES UK & MPI have some great programs aimed specifically at Event Students.

But back to last week’s Forum. The event brought together three top professionals (in fact they are number 1,2,3 on Event Magazines Event 100)  Michael Wyrley-Birch (COO EMEA at TRO), Deborah Armstrong (Creator of Summerland) & Kevin Jackson (EITM) talking about what they think events SHOULD look like as the sector stands right here, right now. It was chaired by ISES Board Member Robert Dunsmore.

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It was a really insightful panel discussion & spoke specifically about Agencies mark in the industry, which is a topic that never really got broached whilst I was at university.

To start the conversation off Robert started off asking what the ideal type of brief is;

Mike highlighted the fact that there is a big difference between procurement briefs and marketing ones. He also stressed that you can also clearly seen when a client has an incumbent and is happy with them.

A good brief enables a two-way dialogue, allowing one-on-one conversation to develop and understand  (to a deeper level) what they are looking for. The brief should not be driving you down a certain outcome, but allow for creativity from the agency.

Mike also said that a brief needs to be grounded in substance, audiences are more aware of when they are being marketed too. Whilst as an industry we love to say content is king, there is a need to move the content to being more ‘real. Events are so much more meaningful to audiences when you unplug.

Deborah comes from a slightly different outlook as she works on very bespoke projects. She finds the most important part of a brief is making sure the whole organisation is aligned. Because it is important to get to the points beyond the piece of paper, really understand why and what they client is looking for.

She also spoke about the value from building a relationship with a client, so that you are able to understand both what they & the audience want, because creative ideas always starts with the audience.

However Kevin’s outlook was very different. He stated from the outset that he doesn’t want to receive a brief, rather for him it is about being disruptive. The main focus should be on finding the reason as to why a client is wanting an event, because there is always a business need. Because we, as event professionals, are creative problem solvers, which means once we understand the business need we will understand the objectives that need to be achieved – making the event a success.

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Robert posed the questions – where does the agency fit in with the events industry?

Kevin made it clear that you don’t want your agency to fit it, citing that Picasso didn’t paint things that people wanted, rather he painted things he wanted.

He spoke about how agencies need to get back to being creative, because it’s ideas that change business! It is about disrupting and pushing barriers whilst being smarter.

Deborah added that ideas do not always mean taking risks, but instead making sure they are meaningful.

Mike added in that as an industry we’ve started judging events success by how big they where, by how much technology is being used. However he stressed that we should instead be focusing on the outcome of our work, not the scale.

This is a problem because clients don’t understand what the term experiences means. It is instead a ‘key term’ that keeps being over used & popping up everywhere by everyone. Mike stressed that it is down to us to help clients understand the value of experiences.

He added that one of the ways we can do this is by being smarter, and measuring the events and business outcomes. When we start comparing and being able to share insightful data we can start to take back the term experiences.

Mike went on to say that whilst we are in a data driven world we don’t share or explore data, but to develop and enhance the industry and our professionalism we need to understand the value of what data can deliver.

As Kevin put it, to be successful you need to find clients who trust and like you. Clients are looking for specialist, they want to employee an agency who has particular skills. Which is one of the reasons we need, as an industry, to get better at noticing what works, why & then tailoring it. Kevin added that data allows you to prove that you’ve been able to achieve what you said, which is a very important aspect to some clients.

However Deborah said that her focus in more human, because you don’t design an event based just on data. Yes it can help inform the creative design and enhance the overall experience, but not on its own.

Mike added in that data is more on an output rather than an input, and Kevin agreed saying that is it the insight you take from the data that holds the value.

It is about understanding what the data points too and how you can then develop it.

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Finally a great question came from the audience, looking at what advice Kevin, Deborah and Mike would have for anyone wanting to start their own agency!

Deborah ‘Don’t hire too many people straight away, because then you have a very high overhead’

Kevin ‘Make friends with a decent client, and make sure it is one whose relationship you value’

Mike ‘All successful agencies had one key anchor client that stuck with them – so relationships is key’

I think the length of this post gives a heads up to how valuable I thought the discussion was, and I would truly truly love to know what you’re thoughts are around this discussion.

Is data where we should be focusing our attention when designing briefs?

Do you think experiences is a term too overly used?  

imadamnstudent1

There are a lot of great events coming up for Event Students over the next few months – which I will be writing about on the blog next month! BUT if you want to keep up to date with all the great opportunities available then @EventStudents1 is the account to follow!

Sharing any & everything that will provide value to #EventStudents

All pictures (unless specified) were taken by Darren Bandoo & used with his permission.

@Imdamnstudent@blogbykobrakFacebook & Instagram