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Telling Brand Stories the Right Way: PCMA’s Canadian Innovation Conference

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Madeleine Bart

Madeleine Bart

Marketing Manager

Freeman Audio Visual Canada

How gamification, storytelling, and tech are changing the event industry

This year’s PCMA Canadian Innovation Conference was emblematic of everything the event represents: a premier networking and education occasion, as well as a local option for Canadian planners to receive the PCMA experience with all its innovative technology, event design, and social activities.

Held at the St. John's Convention Centre in Newfoundland, it was an engrossing occasion showcasing some of the novel tools and trends that will surely elevate the game of event organizers in any part of the globe. 

When games create better brand experiences

Gamification is a trending theme in the event industry, and PCMA CIC made a case for this by making attendees the center of an interactive game experience hosted by Freeman and sponsored by EventMobi. Attendees formed teams and raced around the convention center to complete a series of challenges based on finding and understanding conference locations. Every team that completed a challenge received a passcode they entered into the event app to receive points, and teams with the highest points were awarded prizes.

The topic of gamification also appeared in the very popular Tech Zones. From the Freeman virtual reality showcase to the latest tech products by Poken or DES Systems, blending entertainment with education was an engagement booster for attendees.

Content is king, storytelling is queen

Along with gamification, content creation has become a rising trend in event marketing. However, experts warn not to create content merely for the sake of content — it must hold value for the attendee. PCMA CIC addressed this issue by focusing on creating the right content for the right situation at its event. As an example, in the main plenary room, screens produced different videos with interrelating stories throughout the three days to create a captivating narrative on the power of storytelling.

Furthermore, using social media or technology to efficiently tell a brand’s story was prevalent in some of the more popular sessions. In other sessions, speakers discussed how to “storify” any brand — and indeed, any event.

Raising attendee engagement

This year, there were several attendees outside of the typical “meeting planner” role, but still involved in senior positions at associations. The curiosity and varied perspectives of these additional attendees increased the overall engagement during sessions and social gatherings. This is a creative application of the concept of intersectional design thinking, where promoting diversity and introducing a variety of viewpoints boosts brainstorming and problem solving within an organization.

Experiences for high engagement didn’t end there, though. Four back-to-back mini-keynote sessions started the morning schedule, followed by later breakouts with more thorough presentations. The short morning sessions allowed attendees to get a taste of each presenter and pick the session that resonated most with them — almost like conference speed-dating. Many attendees were swayed into choosing different sessions by the speakers in the mini-keynotes.

Beyond the sessions and talks, PCMA CIC also included some memorable social activities, like exploring The Rooms and the Rally in the Alley pub crawl that included plenty of merriment and ended with a St. John’s tradition of kissing a cod. Beyond all the tech offered, attendees could get material at the Quiet Zone with a foot massage or engage in hula hoops in the Play Zone.

In the end, PCMA CIC proved that having a blast and experiencing a brand are not mutually exclusive. In fact, technology has made this union an increasingly important facet in a brand’s story and the buyer’s journey — and it’s a strategy that event organizers are embracing fully.

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