Events Can Save The World

This week I had the honour and pleasure of being a judge on the Chartered Institute of PR’s excellence awards for ‘Best Event’. While my lips are sealed on the winner until the award event on the 17th June, I can share that the finalists were fantastic examples of using events to bring a brand to life. I love the event industry because it takes words from paper and turns them into actions, which in turn become gifts of unique experiences for the event audience. Bringing a brand to life is not only magical but there is the opportunity for a transformational experience too (for the brand and the people attending the event)

Think about it- when in your life have you experienced an unexpected sense of being inspired by life? When have you experienced your opinions being challenged or understood the validity of another viewpoint? Was it watching a motivating presentation, hearing an amazing piece of music or being part of a community of strangers all drawn together by a shared love for the same sports team? Were you watching a play, part of an impromptu street performance or learning about innovative products at an exhibition?

I would assert that it is at events that most people get access to a new way of thinking, and in fact all the ‘Best Event’ award entries for the Chartered Institute of PR Excellence awards, supported this theory because they all stated behaviour change as part of the legacy of their event. If behaviour change is all that is needed to save the world (and in its most basic form this is all we need) then it makes sense that ‘Events can save the world’.

I have spent the last ten years exploring this question and the more I ponder, the more positive I am that, yes, events change behaviour so they can save the world.

So the more events we create, the greater the opportunity we have for positive change. It helps that my career involves me directing a global team who share this opinion and are working with brands around the world to have their events leave a positive social, economic and environmental impact. It also helps that I belong to (and am in fact International Chair elect from July) Meeting Professionals International, the largest global event industry association who have a popular campaign ‘when we meet we change the world’.

For clarity I am not ignoring or glossing over the significant potential negative social, economic and environmental impacts, which an event can have. Everything from noise pollution to waste management to bribery, the bad behaviour created by the event industry is vast. However the magic of inspiration that happens with an event is a power strong enough to overcome and address these negative impacts.

Spending this morning judging the Chartered Institute of PR’s excellence awards for ‘Best Event’ has given me the opportunity to once again witness the transformational power of an event. I would argue these results could not be achieved by written copy, a nice design or a photograph but don’t take my word for it (my written word!) watch for the next time you are unexpectedly inspired by life and see where you are.

Fiona is MD of Positive Impact, a not-for-profit that exists to create a sustainable event industry. She launched the organisation in 2005 to provide education and collaboration opportunities in order to realise this ambition. Fiona is also managing director of Sustainable Events Ltd, as well as voluntary chair of ISO 20121, a management system for event sustainability inspired by London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Leave a Reply