Following a series of evolutionary milestones that saw the event industry transform from simple audio visual providers to experiential event agencies, there are signs of further revolution from an industry still attempting to grasp its changing role within the media communications landscape.
Having already reshaped the media communications field through its experiential development of brand communications, the event industry is well placed to lead the future of media communication. With the current evolution of technology and smart materials, events are able to create fully ‘conditional realities’, a synthesis of technology and the natural environment integrating data capture and communication channels.
However beneficial and exciting this scenario will be for the industry, shifting the focus towards this experiential revolution will be no easy task, even problematic. Agencies will need to adapt and rethink traditional roles of employees, upgrading skills and realigning new roles to meet the challenge. While new rhetoric, more suited to defining and elevating the relevance and purpose of its new position, will be required.
Despite these challenges, the benefits of this revolution will mean an exciting time for the industry, as the next level of experiential communications moves towards building ‘conditional realities’ indistinguishable from life.
Leading the media communications race
Experiential event agencies – an upgrade from 360 communications agencies in the 1990s – have come a long way from just event planners producing lavish weddings and corporate conferences. They have successfully established themselves as leaders in the communication race, with distinct advantages over their counterparts in their DNA.
Even if the event industry has taken various stylistic trajectories in lending personality and engagement to brand identity, this new evolution in brand communication is a perfect storm. An early adopter of multi-disciplinary thinking, interaction and design.
Using the spatial environment to combine physical and non-physical communication, the event industry has evolved to lead the great communications race. It leads ideas on how to configure interaction, personal response and experience: all crucial elements for communication and relationship building.
The rules of the game, acquired and leveraged from more established industries such as advertising and design, have provided substantial knowledge on aesthetics, perception, spatial and sensory design, multimedia interaction, visual communication, marketing and psychology among others. Yet, in a relatively unchecked move, these services have now become the domain of the modern experiential events agency, which has positioned itself as the leader of design intelligence, relevance and purpose. With the ability to create a more fully integrated, more seamless world.
Evolution takes energy
Leading the future of media communications will require tremendous leadership and energy and ways to work and think about where the industry is heading.
Experiential event agencies, typically laden with onsite management and production expertise, will undoubtedly require more thinkers than doers. This approach will foster the next generation of multidisciplinary experiential strategists, technologists and conceptual thinkers able to shape the next layer of integrated communications and physical environments. Creating a highly knowledgeable team, agile and articulate enough to understand the ramifications of strategic and conceptual decisions will also be more essential.
Event agencies will have to develop new rhetoric, a common language, so that employees, from the C-suite to the project manager, focus solely on the final product. Just as the production manager should know the difference between passive and interactive user engagement, the account manager must be able to explain to their client the importance of data capture.
Yet, for such an evolutionary industry, the rhetoric by which it chooses to define itself is curiously underdeveloped. Common words like ‘events’ or ‘experiences’ hold back the industry and do little to describe the power and purpose of its task. Defining and sharing new terms more suited to its purpose can seem artificial. But the industry must attempt to keep up and match the aspirations of the new horizon.
What will it look like?
Man has always sought to mimic his natural environment in an effort to create and animate life in ways beyond the imagination. It informs us of the very nature of our perception, and importantly, acceptance of user interaction, response and experience.
Knowing how the industry is well placed to lead the evolution of media communications, the next level of experiential user engagement will look and feel very different. Events will evolve to become seamless, quiet and invisible, using big data and design intelligence to enhance, rather than interrupt or disturb our lives.
Thinking beyond the novelty of experiential engagement, the purpose of ‘conditional realities’ will become clear. Creating fully ‘conditional realities’ using physical and non-physical elements, will enable a deeper grade of emotional connection towards brands, fostering two-way conversations. This is similar to what we do in social relationships, using interaction and responsiveness to make judgments on the nature of our relationships.
Strategists and designers will become experiential compliant, shaping how we engage, make decisions, take actions, endure consequences and sometimes, gain rewards. Therefore creating an environment that can be determined and controlled as required.
Of course, the evolution of the industry and the success of these relationships will ultimately determine the future of the event industry. But it is well placed to lead the future of media communications.
(this article is featured on gulfbusiness.com | http://gulfbusiness.com/2015/07/experimental-events-leading-future-media-communications/#.VZTgCuf1yX- )
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