Melissa_Feinman

Want to Stay Relevant? Become a Student

2017 Changemaker Melissa Feinman, CMP, Digitas, keeps up in a cutting-edge industry by listening to her audience and learning from her peers.

MeetingsNet’s annual Changemaker list recognizes 20 outstanding meetings professionals for their efforts to move their organizations and the industry forward in unique and positive ways. Find all the profiles here.

Melissa Feinman, CMP
Vice President, Director, Corporate Communications Events Management Lead
Digitas
For keeping up in a cutting-edge industry by listening to her audience and learning from her peers

Making Change
A few months ago, I was given a big challenge: Plan three simultaneous, interactive breakout sessions for over 120 attendees in one warehouse-style venue. The solution was a combination of moveable walls, careful agenda planning, and headsets. An AV setup that is typically used for simultaneous translation was given a twist and was extremely well received by attendees and presenters.

Helping Clients Meet Challenges
I feel most creative and innovative when my events are being used to solve a unique business challenge. To introduce virtual reality to our clients, for example, we created an event called NewReality, held last October. When newer technology like VR comes out, the conversation typically starts with the technology and hardware, but our clients need to understand how to actually create branded content and determine if the way the technology allows them to tell stories is right for their brand. We took over a floor in our office, partnered with The New York Times, and invited top VR content creators. They not only participated in a panel conversation but also were given demo areas and swivel chairs where clients and DigitasLBi colleagues could experience VR in a more intimate environment while asking questions about timelines, cost, hardware, etc. We also featured a few demos of our recent VR work.

The Whole Attendee
In advertising, a lot of our events are part of larger industry conferences or are driven by a networking objective. Large groups and social activity mean late nights and loud environments. There are always considerations that need to be made for our attendees: healthier food options, starting later, finding moments where people can stretch and move around. Our content and programming must be carefully curated: If there is too much of it or if there are sessions that go too long, we’ll lose the crowd and therefore not meet some of our learning objectives.

Staying Relevant
I become a student. I learn from, and collaborate with, everyone I come into contact with at work. From my colleagues across all offices, all capabilities, and all levels, to our clients and partners, to my suppliers and industry peers. The more I can understand why we are creating an event, the more I really understand why each individual is participating, the stronger my events will be. It’s not uncommon to need to reconcile multiple program needs across various types of clients and prospective clients (B2B vs. B2C, for example) in order to make it feel customized to our audience. I have to be a sponge and listen to the audience—what does the audience want to learn or experience?—then find the solution or build the team that can deliver.

Got a Spare Hour?
I like a good book and a cup of tea as much as a good TV drama or reality show. If I had more than an hour, I’d travel. There’s nothing better than experiencing a new city or a new culture, especially through the food.

Favorite Career Advice
A former CMO reminded me to sell myself and my work. As an event marketer, it’s to my advantage to save the company time, money, or drive sales, even if indirectly. Don’t underestimate the power of a good event recap.

BACK TO THE FULL LIST OF 2017 CHANGEMAKERS

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