Lucid Thoughts

2012: into the unknown

What does 2012 look like? Will they finally stop the euro from diving over the precipice? Will the UK economy  bounce after The Games? Will heads finally bang together and reach agreement on tackling climate change? Well, you have to look on the bright side don't you! After all, we need to compensate for every news channel whose golden rule  is 'first seek out bad news.'

I don't know whether my industry is exactly in synch with the economic cycle but they say that Advertising is a good indicator of good or bad times ahead. A recent article in The Guardian suggests that The Games may be the saviour for that industry in 2012.

But how about Events? Well, Event Industry News suggests that venue bookings are being moved to the early part of the year to avoid the crush during The Games, especially in London. So, perhaps we'll see some Games-led momentum.

But this is short-term stuff.

One long term trend which is having an impact not just on my industry but all others - from retail to newspapers and books - is the internet. When the virtual event first appeared it was thought by many that it could threaten the live event. In fact, the trend has been for hybrid events where the web element (everything from tweeting to webcasts) adds value and extends the reach of the conference or exhibition. And this trend looks likely to grow and grow. As Marketing Options International suggests, the live event is alive and kicking and it becomes stronger when it adds a virtual element.

The other web-related story  is on-line video. In a recent article in The Economist, it was estimated that by 2012 video is likely to make up three-quarters of all internet traffic. And Chief Execs will have to brush up their storytelling and performance skills if they are to hold audience's attention. So there should be more opportunities for our industry.

On a personal note,

I think Lucid Communication Design could qualify as a mini-barometer for David Cameron's claim that the private sector should compensate for cuts in public spending. For me 2010 was a bit of a disaster as the new Government cut almost all public sector communications. My 2010-2011 revenues were down by a third aagainst their average (my year end is June). I had pre-Christmas drinks with old chums from the COI recently and the entire organisation is being scrapped. It seems only yesterday when I was helping them create an exhibition to celebrate 60 years of achievement. What Mr Cameron's cunning plan hadn't taken into account was that much of the private sector's income relied on the public sector.

However, to be fair, 2011 turned out somewhat better. My production company clients (those who hadn't gone under due to an over-reliance of public sector projects!) kept me quite busy. Last year amongst other things I worked on 16 pitches and RFIs, wrote a staff roadshow for a major energy company, developed an event strategy for one of the UK's biggest employers, devised the creative concept for a visitor centre for a European biscuit manufacturer, helped create concepts for a travelling exhibition and a visitor centre for an international science centre, wrote the scripts for a car manufacturer's dealer conference and an international channel event for a Japanese office equipment brand, and created the concept for an interactive installation on the Olympic Park (I knew The Games would get in there somewhere!)

Funny. It felt bit of a quiet year until I looked back on it!

So, maybe the corporate comms sector is growing  and perhaps 2012 will see further growth. I hope so.

One thing that will get ever more important is the need to design and measure communication effectiveness. After all, if money is becoming  tighter it makes sense to know if you are delivering a good Return On Investment. So far, my experience is that many clients pay lip service to ROI in events but very few are prepared to invest the time and money to measure it. It should be done, it can be done and there's a place that tells you all about it. So I'd like to end with a plug for the Event ROI Institute.

A happy and successful 2012 to you all!

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