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What's The Point of Media Conferences and Festivals?

Trends and Insight 126 Add to collection

Soundlounge CEO Ruth Simmons discusses the significance and importance of the networking events

What's The Point of Media Conferences and Festivals?

The M&M Festival in Rome has just dismantled their last stage, kicking off the summer’s serious Festival and Conference season. 700+ delegates, 70+ speakers and a host of media company stars and luminaries congregated in the sumptuous Waldorf Astoria in Rome. ‘Round the coast in Cannes, the Film Festival is rolling up its red carpet while the Croisette revs up for Midem and Cannes Lions. We are deep in Media Conference season.

For the large corporates the high fees to some of these big events aren’t a barrier for entry, it is just a case of who draws the longest straw as to who attends and for how many days! These events are wonderful places for multi-national companies to meet in one country, share ideas, take over the yachts, villas and hotel lobbies, and hopefully celebrate their success with a few Cannes Lion Golds to take home.

For smaller companies and individual entrepreneurs who want to expand their horizons, the cost of flights, hotels and entry can be prohibitive. If they do figure out how to stretch the budget, they may just be able to get within a few yards of the people they would love to meet (usually on a vast stage and with a thousand other people) but can’t get close enough to initiate a dialogue.

From personal experience at many Cannes events, both Midem and Lions, if your Plan A is to actually meet exciting like-minded people and share ideas, the Palais is too big, the hotel lobbies can make you feel like a working hooker and the Gutter Bar, if you don’t drink to inebriation, can be a lonely place.


A conference should be fun and productive for all parties. Many people have travelled long distances to hear certain speakers. The networking should be a two-way experience. I am sure that lots of cards get exchanged at some level, but as one VIP board member from Unilever shared with me, she sometimes feels so bombarded and vulnerable at these big events that she avoids all the networking opportunities the organisers may provide because it feels so aggressive and intimidating.

The bigger the conference, the more event organisers seek sponsors to prevent the entry fees from escalating. But with more sponsors to look after, the organizers are obliged to ensure that they too get their money’s worth, which has to be more than signage and their CEO on stage.

Personally, I think that the way forward for sponsors and delegates to feel they are getting value for money is to organise smaller, more intimate sponsored dinners and round tables within the main event. Here individuals could elect to attend, really get an opportunity to exchange ideas and get to know the other delegates. Then we can all troop out and party…

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soundlounge, Tue, 06 Jun 2017 10:04:16 GMT