Gobbling Communications


Good communication consists of active listening, observing body language and using coherent speech.

As we all have experienced or witnessed, directly or indirectly, it is very hard to engage in effective and affective communication. It’s even harder in the age of 140 character tweets, emojis, and hashtags. Whether we like it or not, the hashtags, tweets, instagrams, selfies, have become a part of our everyday vernacular and is sewed into our collective fabric.

So how do we effectively and affectively communicate our message in today’s gadget savvy culture especially in the tradeshow and conference realm? One way is of course via social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) The most direct way is via texting. Texting is the Velveeta of today. Not very good for you, but pretty darn versatile.
What makes texting an ideal platform to reach your audience? It’s quick, direct and inexpensive and you don’t need an App! Texting allows for quick communication to announce: New sessions, Special VIP functions, Notify contest winners, attendee wellness alerts, Immediate emergency instruction delivery and for e-mail harvesting. In addition to all this, you can integrate it into gamification (ask me about our Text-2-Win Scavenger & Treasure Hunt), and participant engagment all without the need of an App. (Note: I am not an App naysayer, in fact we have offer them too. I just think an App isn’t always needed nor is it always in the best economic interest of the client).
How To Communicate With Your Attendees? There’s always a ton of stuff you need to let your attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, staff, vendors, etc. know about throughout the event life cycle. Knowing how to communicate information effectively to them is of course the challenge. There are numerous tools (from websites, social media, SMS texting, to posters) to help with this feat.   And as if worrying about effective communication wasn’t enough, you sometimes have the added layer of the necessity to engage attendees; to get them involved in your event–to become a fan.  How to do that, well, that’s fodder for another newsletter.
A few guidelines of what to communicate about that will hopefully guide you in your communication journey.  And remember, your communication style and social media presence can set the tone for your event before it even begins. Speakers’ names:  Since your speakers are a huge part of what draws attendees to your event, you’ll want to start introducing them early on in your event communications. Include your speakers keynote titles, photos, and brief bios. You may want to consider sharing their presentation slides or handouts. Event agenda and activity: Attendees should know the event agenda ahead of time so they can plan their event activities and make the most of the day. Communication channels: Decide on the communication channels to use to update your attendees and to engage them as early as possible.  It can be an event app, social media, event website, emails or texting.   Entertainment:  Your Emcee and activities can set the tone for your event.  Let people know about the fun they will have before they arrive.   Food and drink:   details should be sent at least one week out so people know whether they need to eat beforehand or bring food, especially if they have a food allergy.  Dress attire:   Make sure all participants know how to dress for your event.
Now that you know what to communicate on, let’s take a quick look-sy to the how. Below is a checklist of the type of communication tools that you should be using on your communication journey:
  • Event website. Consider this the Hub for anyone who’s interested in learning more about your event or any updated information.
  • Email marketing. Create a strong campaign to introduce and confirm speakers, venue changes, workshops, all of the events that will take place. Make sure you reference your event’s web page on the official website to increase SEO.
  • Mobile Event App. A good one will do more than just keep your attendees “in the know .” It will allow for participant engagement.
  • Social Media. Know your audience. If your event focuses on a younger demographic, telling an image-rich story of what to expect, your sponsors, vendors, speakers, etc. will definitely engage and keep interest. Using social tools like Instagram, SnapChat,  Meerkat, or Periscope will help you develop a solid community. Tech-oriented participants will prefer to share information and their experience via your event’s hashtag on Twitter.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade  (first one was in 1924)Did You Know…

  1. It was initially Christmas-themed.  Some 10,000 people watched Santa—who rode on a float designed to look like a sled being pulled by reindeer. The parade became known as the Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1927.
  2. There were objections from the beginning.  Two years after the first parade, the Allied Patriotic Societies protested, telling Macy’s that it shouldn’t hold the event on Thanksgiving because “it would interfere with Thanksgiving Day worship,” and because, it was inappropriate for a commercial company to hold a parade on the holiday, according to The New York Times.
  3. The character balloons joined the parade in 1927.  The first character balloon was, Felix the Cat.
  4. The parade was halted during World War II.  There were rubber and helium shortages, so Macy’s canceled the parade from 1942 to 1944. The company deflated its rubber balloons (which weighed 650 pounds total) and donated them to the government. The parade returned in 1945, and in 1946 got a new route, which started at 77th Street and Central Park West and ended at 34th Street.
  5. A helium shortage in 1958 almost deflated the parade’s balloons.   Macys collaborated with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and the rigging specialists Traynor & Hansen Corporation to come up with an alternative solution: According to The New York Times, the balloons were filled with air and dangled from “large, mobile construction derricks.” The balloons have only been grounded once, in 1971 when the winds were too strong for them to fly.
  6. All of the balloons are designed in-house by Macy’s artists.   Macy’s balloon designers begin up to a year before the parade with pencil sketches of each character, analyzing aesthetics, aerodynamics and engineering. The sketches are followed by scaled-down clay models that are used to create casts of the balloons. Two miniature replicas are created: One that’s marked with technical details, and one that’s painted in the balloon’s colors. The models are immersed in water to figure out how much helium they’ll need to float. Finally, the schematics are scanned by computer, and the fabric pieces are cut and heat-sealed to create the various air chambers of the balloon. Once the balloon is created, it’s painted while inflated, then it undergoes leak testing and indoor and outdoor flight tests. It costs at least $190,000 for a first-time depolyment (then $90,000 annually).
  7. The balloons are directed by “Balloon Pilots.”  They’re the people walking backwards in front of the balloon, directing a crew of volunteers holding guide ropes (called “bones”) and two Toro utility vehicles.
  8. People who want to volunteer to walk with the balloons have to meet certain requirements.   It takes 90 minutes to inflate the big balloons, which, on average, contain 12,000 cubic feet of helium, which is capable of lifting nearly 750 pounds.  Each balloon requires up to 90 handlers, who have to weigh at least 120 pounds and be in good health. The balloons are inflated the day before the parade outside the American Museum of Natural History, then topped off the day of. Because helium expands in the sun, the balloons are typically left slightly underinflated.
  9. One character has appeared more than any other.  Snoopy, debuted in the 1968 parade and has had a total of seven balloons and has made 39 appearances on and off through 2015.
  10. Wind and giant balloons are not a good combo.  There are many things that can be detrimental to the parade balloons: electric wires (which caused the Felix the Cat balloon to burst into flames when it hit them in 1931), rain (which filled the Popeye balloon’s hat with water, and got dumped on the parade watchers along the parade route in 1957), tree branches (which once tore off Superman’s hand). But, a balloon’s greatest nemesis is the wind! In 1993, wind caused the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon to hit a lamppost; the light fell and injured one. In 1997, police stabbed a Pink Panther balloon when wind sent it zipping by; that same year, the wind made an oversized Cat in the Hat balloon hit a streetlight, which hit two people and sent them to the hospital with head injuries. In 2005, an M&M balloon got tangled on a streetlamp, causing the lamp to fall and injuring two, according to the Los Angeles Times.
  11. Deflating the balloons takes 15 minutes.  The balloons are deflated behind Macy’s on Seventh Avenue. When all the helium has escaped, they are rolled up and put in storage until the next parade.