Jill Drury

An Innovative Take on Creating Innovative Special Events

Take a fresh new look at how you develop special event strategies with these tips from Jill Drury of Drury Design.

Innovation is all about seeing the world through a fresh lens. We are constantly taking the box and twisting, turning and breaking it to reveal the best solutions to keep clients ahead of the curve.

Innovation is a core value at Drury. We are committed to it, live for it, and invest in it with initiatives like the Drury Creative Lab, which is our in-house innovation think tank. Other initiatives such as Drury Summer School and Summer Mash are designed to educate our people and clients on industry innovations and trends.

Additionally, we launched the first ever VR 360 Virtual Reality Film Contest for students using the latest VR equipment to tell stories in new and imaginative ways.

More importantly, our clients come to expect innovation from us, and that is why they come to us. Taking complex messages and delivering them in unique and powerfully unexpected ways is what we do.  

The trends dominating the communications arena that we have seen are centered around audience engagement. The influence of millennials on the design and approach for events include the need for smaller sessions, more fun networking activities, hipper/funkier spaces, much more gaming, and social media around the event.

This is the first time that we’ve had four generations--Boomers, Xers, Millennials and Yers—in the workforce, with varying needs and preferences for communicating. As a result, it’s imperative to design events and activations that speak to and engage each group, as well as to find ways to encourage cross-pollination and two-way mentorship/networking opportunities. Here are three important points to remember:

·        The breaking down of the traditional walls that separate “main tents” sessions and expos and creating a completely integrated experience that has content everywhere. Far more robust on-site apps that use AI [artificial intelligence] to recommend people, events and sessions.

·        The notion of “story-doing”— compelling the audience at an event to show and tell their own “individual story” through experiential interactions that are socialized.

·        The importance of combining education and entertainment into “edu-tainment.” This can be done by breaking up learning content into smaller, more digestible bits, hiring better speakers and story-tellers, and offering public-speaking coaching for anyone who’s going be onstage. 

To address these trends in the industry, we answered the call by developing unique, engaging and innovative sessions. One of Drury's most innovative and successful events was for one of our largest tech clients. More than 3,000 attendees discovered how leaders are redefining customer engagement in the cognitive era through innovation and personalized experiences.

We called the experience “Cognitive in Motion.” The objective was to invent a fresh, singular opening to entertain and inspire the audience, while also focusing them on the main message: The tech company turns real-time cognitive data into an art form.

The methodology we used was truly unique as we merged cognitive data visualizations, custom-made 3D motion graphics, real-time 3D-rendered I-Mag effects on the upper screen with an artist “live” drawing, plus pop-and-lock dancers interacting with her real-time, painting projected on the bottom screen.

This visual panorama--fused with a musical score mixing digital and human sounds—quickly immersed the audience in the keynote’s spirit of celebrating innovation.

The results in reach exceeded our expectations:

• Shortly after the opening, the unique hashtag trended No. 1 on Twitter

• Twitter activity by industry analysts reached more than 900,000 followers

• 427 milllion total Twitter impressions for the overall conference

• 100-plus unique articles and blog posts to date with estimated reach of 400 million plus

Another innovation Drury created and executed was what we call the "Cognitive T-Shirt Co" activation. Our client’s marketing team needed an innovative, fresh way to launch its new online hub for digital marketers showcasing their biggest and most influential product.

A cognitive T-shirt pop-up store that promoted the new site and celebrated the power of pattern recognition was created in a retail setting. The Cognitive T-Shirt Co. leveraged three API’s to drive attendees to a T-shirt pattern chosen just for them. Beginning with an intro at the front desk, attendees were guided by SME’s through a personal conversation with a computer program, resulting in both email and graphic takeaways, a personalized story about their experience, and, of course, a T-shirt printed with the recommended pattern. Traveling to key AdTech conferences in four cities across the U.S. and Europe, the Cognitive T-Shirt Co. guided nearly 4,000 prospective clients through the experience, capturing actionable leads and driving measurable results via conversation analytics and news source tracking.

Ultimately, the activation was fun, engaging, and memorable and it immersed the participants in the brand.

Drury utilized our Creative Lab--our own innovative think tank--to come up with a fresh and relevant evening event for a client’s recent National Sales Meeting. With a theme of “All In” and a client ask of a live band at the event, the team started to brainstorm fun and different concepts for the party. When the idea of a "dive bar" was floated, the team collectively decided this was the route. The party included appropriately themed activations including a live T-shirt printing station, arcade games such as skee-ball, foosball, and pinball machines, a live temporary tattoo station, photo booths, and thematic decor.

Jill Drury is founder and CEO of New York-based Drury Design, an integrated communication and brand experience agency. Drury partners with its clients to create strategic solutions, supporting and enhancing their missions and brands worldwide. Jill drives Drury’s vision and strategy —integrating them into processes that nurture talent and inspire a creative culture.

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