Our head of talent, Kath Norris, recently caught up with Stand Out Magazine to talk all things staffing. From future trends to getting the best out of your brand ambassadors, Kath shares her top tips below…
How are you finding the events marketplace at the moment? How has the sector changed in the last 12 months?
People are certainly becoming more streamlined with their events. There is no room for excess and every penny counts. We have to work ever harder to ensure that everything that we do has a return. The last 12 months have seen a steady number of staffing requests, but for much more specific briefs, with very specific requirements. We don’t see many people putting on events for the sake of it. While our experiential campaigns, have had this type of requirement for some time, we are now seeing this kind of structured approach in every event that we do.
Have you won any new contracts lately?
We have been very fortunate to win a number of new clients over the last year or so. H&M, Haywards Pickles and Dorset Cereals were all big wins for us last year. We are really looking forward to working with all three again this summer. And we have several exciting new campaigns in the works currently, which we can talk about more freely once they go live. We’ve got loads of exciting activations planned for the summer that we can’t yet talk about, so watch this space!
Which events have you recently provided services/solutions to – what was the request? What did you provide? Anything “stand out” about the job?
This month we headed to EGX Rezzed with PlayStation to offer gamers the chance to experience exclusive previews of PlayStation VR and its latest titles. We transformed one of the striking vaults at Tobacco Dock into a fully immersive area where gamers could experience all the exciting new releases that PlayStation have on offer.
Clearly, Virtual Reality gaming is big news and everyone wants to get hand on with the latest hardware. Our staff have to be exceptional- very switched on from a technological and gaming point of view, but also able to walk a consumer through a step by step tutorial that requires patience and passion to deliver well.
What requests are you getting from organisers – any trends you are witnessing? What are they asking for?
In terms of staffing, more and more, we are required to adopt a chameleon approach. This means there has been n increase in the need for brand ambassadors that fulfil multiple roles. In short, a brand ambassador needs to be adaptable in changing environments, and they are asked to do much more dynamic and challenging roles than were prevalent, even a few years ago. The trick is to recruit well. Taking your time to find the right calibre of people who se energy and enthusiasm will take them a long way, and a very refined training regime from our team, ensures that we are as adaptable as our clients now need us to be. We want our clients to build trust in us, and our people, only then, can our field staff really deliver at their best. Equally, if the client/brand trusts the individuals, they are more willing to try new avenues, knowing the support will be there and that the results will follow.
How should organisers tap into that younger market?
Gone are the days when brands can just share any content on Facebook and that would be the job done. Youth today are savvy and used to filtering content. All branded content and touch points need to be considered strategically, however, we know from our own research that content shared from experience- i.e. a person sharing their own experience at an event or experiential activation, is much more likely to be shared and more importantly, much more likely to be regarded by that person’s peer group and regarded as an all important recommendation of the brand.
This demographic moves at a pace, not really seen before. They have a short attention span. Organisers have to be willing to let the audience participate their way and influence and co-create the content if they really expect them to share it. We also need staff who represent this audience and understand how to encourage this behaviour in an authentic way.
What campaigns are you working on and what techniques are you deploying in order to engage with that younger audience?
Well as an agency that works a lot in technology, we aim to influence this audience a lot. We are always striving to find new ways in which we can capture their imagination. Sometimes this is through association with key influencers they like, other times it is by using amazing technology that wows them, like VR gaming and 360 degree video for example. Co- creation often grabs their attention, and at a simple level we like to entertain. If you can appeal to their current sense of humour, or a current culture, fashion, music trend then you automatically have a reason to talk to them and they have a reason to want to share the content you co-create- a win win really.
What’s the secret to engaging with millennials?
- They see through the nonsense of hard sells
- Expect fast engagement otherwise they’ll move on to the next thing before you get a chance to interact
- Has to be of the moment, there and then
- No longer engaging in long conversations so capture them quickly, then they will open up to longer dialogues afterwards
- Has to have the wow factor straight away to capture shorter attention spans, due to age group used to multitasking on multiple gadgets at once
What future trends do you see within the staffing arena?
- Brand ambassadors that specialise in sectors- the best of the best, that like be incredibly good at one type of event or vertical market.
- Key affiliations and tailored individuals
- Brand lovers – not forcing people to engage with a brand but sourcing staff whose passion already lies in the characteristics of the brand
- Circle Agency has a database of over 2,000 people and knows all their interests so at any point when a new brand comes on board we know exactly who to call upon (as incredible as this may seem, this is still not common practice and people still try and force square pegs into round holes)
- Staff should not be an extension of the brand, but individuals who share a passion and are willing to share their passion in order to encourage others to join in the experience
- Staff are NOT a commodity. They can and will make or break a campaign and sometimes- a brand. Brands need to be able to trust their staffing partner. And maintain direct content with the people who represent them day to day.
- Brand Ambassadors/event staff are people- they need to feel valued. Agencies and brands who make their field teams, feel valued, rewarded and nurtured- will reap the benefits.
Your best piece of advice for any organiser re staffing (something that an organiser probably wouldn’t know but should be aware of)
Know your audience. Who would they like to speak with/engage with- then choose your staff/brand ambassadors accordingly? Find a team of people who are passionate about what they do generally and the brand that you represent. Let them in on a brand secret or two (nothing that is going to cause a corporate melt down), just something to make them feel important, privileged, in the loop and ready to do a great job for you.
Then ensure that they stay passionate. Have fun with your team- keep them engaged. Some of our clients really go out of their way to nurture their event team. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. A coffee, muffin and a big old pep talk is sometime all that it takes- however, they are almost always more proactive, dynamic and we see stronger overall results as a result.
Read the full article on page 49 of May’s Stand Out Magazine here.