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Simon Hughes, chair of the BVEP

BVEP and Smyle Agency publish open letter to the live events industry

CEO of Smyle agency, Rick Stainton, and chairman of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP), Simon Hughes (pictured), have published an open letter to those within the live events industry, outlining how best to inspire confidence in events once they reopen on 1 October.

The letter, which is addressed to “Live Event/Event Marketing/Brand Experience Industry leaders”, noted the accomplishment of those in the industry for “overcoming the first hurdle” of getting a restart date for the industry. However, it acknowledged that the “big challenge” now is overcoming a lack of “consumer, government and corporate” confidence in events, in addition to a “unique timing opportunity to explain what [the events industry] actually contribute[s] to the country”.

To combat these issues, the 'One Industry, One Voice, One Message' mantra has been introduced, which aims to reassure, inspire and educate the general public on what the event industry is doing to prioritise visitor safety, and what the event industry brings to the UK as a whole.

The letter also includes further plans to boost the event industry's profile, including an overarching hashtag movement, #WeCreateExperiences, which will be split into different sub-sections dedicated to different areas.

The BVEP also called on those in the events industry to share the issues they have faced with them, in addition to asking businesses to make a financial contribution to the campaign “to generate the national attention and media buy-in” that is “essential” to its success.

The letter in full:

Open letter to the Live events industry – 20/07/2020

Hi Live Event/Event Marketing/Brand Experience Industry leaders,

Friday 17 July was a big day for the events industry, and I’m sure we all share our delight at overcoming the first hurdle of acquiring a restart date for the events industry announced by the PM. A huge effort has gone into lobbying the government by our associations and key players, and we must thank them enormously.

Also, thank you to those who have engaged and given their support from the initial One Industry, One Voice, One Message mantra comms sent out last week - it has been overwhelmingly 100% backed with no caveats or queries – the pure decisiveness has been humbling and hence we are on the verge of having a truly representative collective of all sizes in as many areas of the industry as possible supporting this – from over 200 agencies+ including the biggest to the smallest, venues and suppliers contacted so far all responded within 24 hrs with full backing of the initiative. (with many more to go hence this letter!).

So now to the big challenge. While we can now work towards 1 October, there is still the matter of consumer, government and corporate confidence to overcome in conjunction with a unique timing opportunity to explain what we actually contribute to the country – a potential far reaching legacy to this situation we are all enduring.

So, we must take to the public and national press the positive message that we know what we are doing and that they can all be reassured our events will be safe as standard.

Under a One Industry, One Voice, One Message mantra, the campaign’s aims are:

  • to reassure that we are the experts globally in safety measures, as well as creative, digital and sustainability
  • to inspire by showcasing what we do, the lives our work touches & the projects we deliver
  • to educate our contribution to the economy in employment, GDP, exports, our eco-system inc young employment opps/range of jobs on offer

The key here is to ensure as equal a weighting across the different parts of the events industry as possible. We will launch an overarching hashtag movement, called #WeCreateExperiences, under which there will be sub-sections dedicated to different areas.

Simon Hughes, chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership has offered to support this campaign and help arrange the practical solutions required to do so – as the independent body representing all the main associations in our industry and government, they are as placed best placed as any to manage this. 

It is proposed to break down as:

The Power of Events to Inspire (covering product launches, brand experiences)

The Power of Events to Educate (covering conferences, conventions, exhibitions)

The Power of Events to Entertain (festivals, music, sport, culture)

The Power of Events to Support Society (third sector, charity, government)

The Power of Events to Grow (our value to GDP, jobs, exports, global leadership)

These messages will be supported by a hashtag movement, under the #WeCreateExperiences banner, such as #BritishEventsInspire, #BritishEventsEducate, #BritishEventsEntertain, #BritishEventsSupport, and #BritishEventsGrow

As an industry we are experts in safety, and that critical element should underpin all the above as what we do as standard – this will also be clearly communicated in the content and campaign messaging - format to be developed in due course in alignment with published guidance.

The highest level of content, data figures and high-profile celebrity endorsements will then be used to create a video and associated social media assets for distribution across a campaign likely to be end of August/early September – exact date/timing tbc.

To those 100s of businesses we’ve already made contact with last week, we will take you up on your brilliant offers of help re content/celebrity intros etc on this shortly.

Action 1: We want to avoid design by committee but would really like to crowd source your key themes to ensure that the initial thinking truly aligns across the industry. So please send us your top 4 (max) issues from your point of view so that we can at least sense check our core messages proposals – not everyone will of course be 100% happy with everything, so in the spirit of this unprecedented unification process please allow a tad of movement and compromise! 

Of course, this must be supported by a larger PR resource requirement for the campaign to generate the national attention and media buy-in we all desire - it is absolutely essential to our success. As such, we are asking businesses to contribute a nominal donation to a campaign PR fund, which we propose is received and managed by the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP). These funds will be held in a separate account to pay the associated PR fees. We are aiming to raise somewhere in the region of £30,000+ and are asking for £250 for businesses employing under 50pax or £10m turnover, and £500 for employing 50 or more with turnover in excess of £10m. 

Come the first week of August, we will go out to tender to 3-4 public affairs companies to help push our message across the media.

Action 2: Please also confirm you are happy to pay this contribution and further details will then be sent on the payment process accordingly in the coming weeks.

Please reply on both actions to rick@smyle.co.uk and/or simon@mchassociates.co.uk and the deadline set for this is 5pm Wednesday 22nd July  – much appreciated.

We hope the above reassures everyone the One Industry, One Voice, One Message mantra is primed and ready to be actioned, with your input and support, to ensure we are able to embed trust in our safety approach, across all the experiences we deliver, to the widest audience possible, in the most informative and inspiring manner.

Rick Stainton & Simon Hughes