University of Lincoln & The MICE Blog Q & A

In April I spoke at the Digital Student Ambassador Group (DSAG) event, organised by third year event management students at the University of Lincoln. I was one of the speakers they invited to speak on the topic of event technology, and to demonstrate the abilities of technology usage at universities (and the events industry), I decided the use for the Q & A after my presentation about the business of blogging.

For those who are not familiar with, it’s a Q & A platform people can access via the phone and there is no need to download an app. It’s very easy to use and audience can ask questions anonymously.

The questions came immediately from the students and we had an engaging session. Here I share them with you, as well as my answers.

What advice would you give to graduating events students trying to emerge into the events industry?

Several tips I can share with event students. First of all get involved in the industry early on during the studies, don’t worry that “you are just in the first semester”. You can do this by attending local networking events, joining industry associations and travelling to international events, such as IMEX.

Secondly, look out for sponsorship opportunities and competitions, run by industry associations and organisations. When I was a students I won a competition organised by IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum when I wrote how destination Qatar is innovating in the MICE industry. I got the opportunity to travel to IMEX Frankfurt and attend the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum which was truly amazing!

Third tip would be to attend events alone. Often students go to networking events with friends and end up chatting to them all evening. You’ll get much more out of attending alone and speaking to new people.

In general, does the event industry engage effectively with new digital technologies?

In general, I think not enough and there is space for improvements!

How do you feel about students engaging with online networks?

This is extremely important from two reasons. First is that it’s a great opportunity to network. Event planners are very friendly and helpful on social media and Twitter, for example, is a great platform to start building relationships and learning about the industry.

Secondly, by engaging on online networks you can learn how to use them and build your corporate profile and branding. This is very important when you start your career in the industry, and maybe you’ll be tasked with managing or producing content for social media.

What do you think is the best way to get a strong social media following?

There are two ways. First by producing original, creative and interesting content you’ll attract people to follow your profile. Secondly, by following and engaging with other event professionals on social media. Comment on their blog, respond on Twitter, participate in Twitter chats etc. Engage with them.

What strategies do you employ to keep up with the fast paced nature of the digital world?

Events industry is not the fastest to be on digital trends, so I try and keep up to date with what is happening in, mainly, the travel and fashion industries. They are always the first to try a new piece of technology and test a social media platform.

Do you think mobile apps are useful for event organisers and attendees?

Over the past two years now that I haven’t downloaded an event app. So far I could execute all an event app offers online – look up on the website for agenda and exhibitors, check the hashtag on Twitter to see who’s attending and latest updates or do a LinkedIn search. I haven’t seen an added value an app can provide, except taking space on my phone and asking for my data.

What would be your single most significant piece of advice to students and practitioners?

Networking – both online and offline.

For people who want to start a blog, do think it would be best to work with others to ensure that there is good amount of content?

It’s for the individual to decide. It took me about four years until I got the first guest writers on my blog, others have guest writers from the beginning (or co-own the blog). One way or another, the blog should be updated on a weekly basis (and when possible on a daily!).

What influences what is put on your blog? Do you ever feel stuck for ideas, how do you get around this?

Personal interest and what my audience likes to read. For example I know that the topic of education is one of the most popular on the blog, hence I also share the Q & A here. I’m never short of ideas. I get inspiration and ideas by talking to other #eventprofs, when attending events and travelling.

As a relatively new business/blogger etc. how would you setup a successful Twitter Chat (what do you need to get people involved)?

First of all passion. Be involved in the chat personally, e.g. – via the personal account. Secondly have an opinion and moderate at the same time. Lastly, be consistent so people know when the chat takes place and about what. By being consistent you’ll be able to build a strong and loyal community.

Do you write your blog posts daily and then post them or do you always have say 5 posts pre written?

I rarely have five pre-written! I usually write down all the ideas and topics I’d like to cover on the blog, but only half of them actually make it to a blog post! I usually write one article at a time.

Please could you explain more about the Media Kit you use? When is it needed and who is it shown to?

As a new blogger it’s recommended to have a media kit. No one knows you and you have to sell your idea to potential sponsors. The bigger you become the less you’ll need it because PR companies and brands will know about you from your social media stats, references, your past projects and events, your blog, your Domain Authority or Alexa rankings.

Finding a sponsor who will give you cash is very hard, especially if you are new and don’t have any case studies or good client database so be ready to offer a barter first. Sponsors are interested to see analytics – you can show it to them in the media kit.

What to include in the media kit?

– About you
– About the blog or the business
– How the sponsor can benefit
– Awards
– Audience demographics
– Past collaborations
– Case studies
– Editorial
– Projects
– Mentions
– References/ testimonials
– Photos
– Social media outreach and analytics
– Contact details

You’ll need to show the media kit to potential sponsors, event organisers who’s events you’d like to cover on your blog and PR agencies.

What are you thoughts on having multiple Twitter accounts e.g. – A professional account and an informal account for a business?

It’s important to have both!

How do you fund live events?

Through event sponsorship and ticket sales.

If you ask yourself to visit a hotel/venue to feature on your blog, do you expect to get paid or do you do it for free?

Starting out I always did it for free! I contacted hotels and destinations directly for review opportunities. Now I get contacted by venues and hotels. When there is a clear commercial relationship, e.g. – through a PR agency, I will expect to get paid and this will be also disclosed in the post. If I attend an event and think that the content and venue will be interesting and relevant for my readers I’ll blog about it for free.

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