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What do you see to be the biggest business advantage to doing or attending events these days?
For attending events, it’s the networking. I’m there to meet the other people who are there in my space who I don’t know already. For doing the event, not only creating brand love for who we are and what we do, but also for creating an environment where we can own all channels and all conversations moving forward. It’s a huge opportunity to get your message across.
What’s the best use of technology that you’ve utilized at an event or seen used at another event? The first thing to realize is not to use technology just for technology’s sake. There’s a lot of very cool toys out that there that not everybody needs. We don’t use a ton. We’ve got the standard social media engagement pieces going on. Our expo is relatively small, intentionally so, so we don’t need a lot of tracking. I have seen some really interesting pieces, especially on those large expo floors, four or five hundred booths kind of setups, where they can track your movements through the floor and use that information, the same way I would imagine a casino uses information on flow, to determine where are the next-most premium positions. Where are people pausing, falling off, or leaving. So that tracking of human movement within a large space – I don’t have a use for it in my current events – but I geek out over it a little bit.
What’s the most innovative thing you’ve seen done either at your event or an event you’ve attended?
We had a push-up competition, led by Wayne Brady, on our stage during our gala. That level of organic engagement – you can’t plan for it. All of those moments are beautiful when they happen but you can’t script them. The first lady had just spoken about how you can do this, you can do that, and you can just do five pushups and this is all to a good benefit. The crowd went crazy and then Wayne unfortunately had to take the stage right after the first lady, which no one ever wants to do. He gets up there and says “I’m ready to do five push-ups right now, who’s with me?” Got down, and literally the entire audience ran to the stage and did them there. Some people did them in the aisles. Some people were jumping over barriers. People were helping other people over the barriers to do push-ups on stage. Frankly, it’s kind of become a thing for us now. Everybody’s like “so when are we doing the push-ups?” So taking advantage of those organic moments. We don’t want it to become cliché, there’s a line there somewhere I don’t know where it is and unfortunately you don’t know where it is until you cross it. That was definitely one of the more fun moments we’ve had, and certainly the most innovative. We sent our in-house photos the next day to the Washington Post, who ran them the next day, and talked about the “epic push-up competition” that had taken place at the PHA gala the night before.
GUEST: Drew Nannis
Drew Nannis serves as the chief marketing officer for the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA), joining the organization in 2011 as one of its first employees. PHA works with the private sector and its honorary chair, First Lady Michelle Obama, to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for busy parents and families. Mr. Nannis’ role at the partnership covers all aspects of its marketing and communications efforts from co-branded marketing campaigns with its partners to new media to sub-brands such as Drink Up and FNV to events like PHA’s signature Building a Healthier Future Summit.
Mr. Nannis previously served as senior vice president at AARP for media relations and strategy, and in various communications roles on Capitol Hill.