Allied Experiential SVP's Advice for Captivating a Virtual Audience

Allied Experiential SVP's Advice for Captivating a Virtual Audience

Matthew-Glass-Allied-Global-MarketingPodcast speakers: Savannah McIntosh (Purplepass Marketing Director) and Matthew Glass (SVP of Allied Global Marketing). Jump to the show notes below. 

The EventBuzz podcast: Allied Experiential

presented by Purplepass

 

 

Podcast Transcript: Purplepass + Allied Experiential

Savannah (Purplepass):

We are live with another episode of the EventBuzz podcast by Purplepass. If this is your first time tuning in, I'm your host Savannah McIntosh. And on this podcast we are talking about all things events, getting insider tips, tricks and insights from industry experts and professional event planners.

Our guest today has spent years in PR, and then as the Director of Marketing at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Later, he and his partner opened an event marketing agency in New York, which down the road sold to Allied Global Marketing, and they then became Allied Experiential.

Over the past seven years, they have gone on to produce award winning consumer experiences, and experiential campaigns for clients including Netflix, Amazon, American Express, and other major brands. Our guests, Matthew Glass, joins us today to share his experiences in the industry as well as their shift from live events to virtual ones, with insider tips on generating brand awareness and sales.

Okay. Hi, Matthew. Thanks for coming on the show and taking the time out to join us today. How have you been doing?

 

Matthew (Allied): 

Great, thank you. It's nice to be here.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, we're excited to talk to you today. And I, before we get going, let's just introduce yourself to the listeners. So they know who's talking a little bit about what you do, and maybe something about, you know, Allied Experiential and what the company does.

 

Matthew:

Sure, well, my name is Matthew Glass. And I'm a Senior Vice President of Allied Experiential. And we are the event marketing division of Allied Global Marketing, which is a big international marketing agency. And we produce events and experiential campaigns live and virtual for our clients. And that encompasses a lot of different things, which is what makes it exciting, exciting job. We're always coming up with new and interesting ways of bringing our clients to market, whether again, that'd be live or virtual, engaging consumers and all kinds of interesting ways.

And we can talk a little bit about some of the ways you do that.

 

Savannah:

And for the listeners that might not be aware, when you say experiential campaigns, can you just briefly describe to them, like define experiential and what, what type of experience that is?

 

Matthew:

Sure, you know, the terms change over the years. It was event marketing when we began, but it's expanded. So it's really face to face brand engagement, it's, it's our clients want to get in front of their customers, they want to, they want to sample their products, they want to, they want to create some connection with their, with their customers and with their, their clients. They might want to drive viewership on the show a lot of our clients or entertainment clients, but the cable companies, Netflix and HBO and the film studios, so you know, sometimes it's about generating, you know, buzz for an upcoming program.

Oftentimes, PR, and social media now is a big KPI for these programs. One of the one big goal, you know, is is generating as much awareness of something as much as it is putting products into people's hands and having them experience them.

So, you know, it can take the form of a big stump in Times Square, you know, or tour that goes across the country or a pop up store. Something you park at the beach, anytime you see some some sort of promotional event happening that's what we do.

 

Savannah:

Yeah. And then we've all experienced that, like you said anywhere at the mall. Anything. Tell us a little bit about the company's journey this past year? I mean, since hands on it's not really a thing right now. So I'm curious, what you guys have been doing?

 

Matthew:

Yeah, you know, we're it's like hands on and face to face. The one to one arn't really selling these days. So it's been it's been a tough year for everybody in the event business. And we've managed to stay alive, you know, keep our team she busy by pivoting to virtual, which, you know, that's kind of the word of the year is pivoting, rerouting.

You know, how to engage people online and how to do it in a way that is, you know, entertaining and still, you know, getting the message across. We're lucky in the sense that we had a number of programs that were slated for last year tours for brands that we were in the middle of, you know, we were going to be starting in the spring, when this all hit in February. Everything got pulled, but there was still an investment and a need to be out there for those clients.

And so we had the opportunity to sell in these livestream events. So basically creating the event in an isolated private environment without a crowd, and basically, broadcasting it, for people to tune in and experience it that way.

And definitely a learning curve. And it's something that, you know, after doing six or seven of these for different brands, sort of now a new sort of offering that we have, you know, for the agency, so it's now something that, you know, has its own value, and in some ways, you know, it's got benefits that live events don't.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, and so are you guys really just focusing and doing virtual events right now? Or have you kind of started seeing a shift back to in person experiences or experiential, you know, campaigns or is it just online?

 

Matthew: 

You know, it's been, it's been a weird roller coaster, following trying to find follow the guidelines for safe live events. You know, between the differences in the States, you know, between the, you know, periods where the virus seemed to get up and then down and up and down. And, you know, I can't tell you how many times we, you know, say we'll be fine by June, we'll be fine by, you know, so it has always been very difficult.

But there were times there have been times over the past year where we were doing some retail events, some live events, with very controlled crowds. And with all of the sort of COVID protocols in place. One of our clients, Amazon, was their Amazon bookstores around the country.

And so, one of the things that we have been activating over the past year, again, in certain markets certain times have been these in store events that we've been doing. And again, it's it's, you know, there's been a real learning curve, and we have experts now in you know, all the, the health protocols that need to go into place. 

 

Savannah:

Oh yeah, there's so many. And like you said, every state is so different. It's crazy. I'm in Texas, right. Well, not right now. But I am living in Texas, but I'm visiting my family in California, and it's just like two different worlds.

 

Matthew:

Florida, I was in Florida, and they do their own thing. 

 

Savannah:

Okay. Yeah. So that's great, crazy, I can see teams now having different, like, a specific role. Now, just for someone that's like, gonna be looking at all the laws and regulations and, and figuring out what works and what doesn't.

 

Matthew:

It's very important also for our clients to know that if they're going to put their foot back in the water, you know, if they're going to start to get back to this, they're doing it in a responsible way.

Especially companies like Amazon or, you know, big company like that, you know, the last thing they want to do is create any sort of negative, negative PR or to do anything that might cause some backlash, you know, so it was a real hesitancy to be the first ones back, you know, doing things.

 

Savannah:

And I think that's a good tip, too, for event planners out there that are trying to go back to in person activities and events, I would say, like you said, be really hesitant, cautious and do your research, because it's better to take it slowly, when you go back to things and you know, then become a super spreader.

And then you have that negative reputation now, and it's going to make it even harder to get back into the industry.

 

Matthew:

It's funny, you know, consumers are much more willing to do this. I think, again, depending where you are, but I think there's a real desire for live events from consumers, or for the general public, you know, but brands have to be extra careful, despite the, you know, making sure that it's safe.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I want to ask to when you guys did the, if you I mean, it's been a lot I'm sure you've learned a lot. But if there were any, like key takeaways that you've learned from your time when you when you shifted over from in person events to virtual events.

 

Matthew:

It's, it's really a different animal, you know, it's, it's, it's almost, you know, it's like producing an entertainment program, you know, it's, um, it's been really interesting to see. You know, a lot of the programs that we've done, you know, a lot of it depends on the platform where you are, you know, I mean, if you're on Facebook Live, you've got a built in an, you know, built an audience there, or you know, where you're gonna, where your shows gonna live, where your programs to live is, is a big piece of it.

We, we do most of our programs on Amazon live, which is a is truly a selling platform for vendors of Amazon. So it's almost like almost like a QVC, because that's how it's been used in the past. Like, you know, for like unboxing products and things like that. So, you know, so we had a platform that was very much tied into sale, which a retail, so almost like doing it in a store, you know, to do it on the amazon.com platform.

So you know, so that the challenge was to make this, you know, entertaining. So to make it more valuable, make it something that you'd actually tune into production, right. So we were in a very commercial setting, we had to make this the challenge was to make this entertaining, and to do something more. And so, you know, the first thing we did, of course, is to, you know, find celebrity, celebrity hosts, celebrity guests and oftentimes, we're doing these out of celebrity homes or in their backyard, you know, that was always a challenge too.

You know, the first one we did we, we brought them to a location, because it was early on and early on, and we were able to, to have some hosts in a studio, again, you know, working through, working through the unions and working through all the safety precautions of doing that, having limited staff, all of that. And then it evolved into being more sort of multiple locations and multiple homes, you know, and it wasn't, you know, wasn't sort of static, it wasn't a singular location, we were able to cop to talking heads in various locations and things like that.

And, you know, part of it also is, is everybody's got Zooms fatigue, you know, so how do you how do you do this without making you look like just zoom? You know, for us as, as live event marketers, you know, we're all about the set, you know, and creating a really cool environment, you know, something that's really, that you can walk into, and engage with, right. So, you know, there were challenges of doing that. We create kits, or packages and send them home, because a lot of the a lot of the talent and the influencers and the people that we had, the experts that we had, you know, you can't really be recruited to their house or build something out to the library.

So it was how do we how do we brand the space and make it interesting?

 

Savannah:

Oh, so you sent them kits? That's, that's funny.

 

Matthew:

Yeah, we sent them lighting kits, you know, because you can you want, you want this to look professional, look different than just, you know, somebody in the backyard, so I'm sorry, in their home, whatever. So that was part of part of the challenge. And one of the things that we learned, you know, we figured out how to do.

 

Savannah:

And it's interesting, when you're talking about like, video, I just talked to this other girl, this social media expert. And it's funny, because obviously video is just becoming the best, like the most popular form of content right now. But we were talking about how, when we do video, whether it's like ads or events, it has to be, like you said, really captivating, and it has to captivate your audience really fast.

Because their attention spans our attention spans are getting so bad. So like you said, you need to set up a good set, or people are gonna it's gonna look like a boring Zoom call.

 

Matthew:

Yeah, and, you know, you know, some of these programs are an hour or 90 minutes long, you know, so that's a long time. And, you know, it's, you don't expect someone to stay the whole time, but you certainly don't, you know, you need to you need to hook them. 

 

Savannah:

Yeah, you need to hook them and you need to keep them hooked somehow so that there are like waiting for that one thing that they're trying to see, you know?

 

Matthew:

Yeah. And so, you know, the other the other thing is, you know, to keep it, keep it moving, you know, not be on a static, you know, one location.

 

Savannah:

That's a good point.

 

Matthew:

It's interesting to see different locations. Yeah. And, um, you know, it's a combination of live stream and video, you know. So, you know, we did an event for for dog lovers, you know, for pet owners and for dogs for Purina, for example, and so, you know, we were able to, we did a contest where we got content from consumers sent in dog videos, which everybody loves, right?

So being able to show that kind of content and mix it up a little bit, we also made a delivery of donation simple. And so, you know, we could take you outside, it just, it was also the pre record, that part was pre recorded.

 

Savannah:

But at least here we are moving different sets and stuff. That's a good idea.

 

Matthew:

Exactly. So visually, it's a little bit more interesting, you know, having different segments and saying this is coming up, and it goes to the next thing keeps people captivated.

 

Savannah:

And would you have any suggestions for people that, maybe other events, that are working with celebrities or influencers for the first time? I mean, there's a lot that goes into that, obviously.

 

Matthew:

Yeah, well, celebrities are, their whole the whole thing. And honestly, some of their bigger influences are. Like, it's a good sometimes they're divas and prima donnas, too, you know. Dealing with celebrities, the whole whole thing, which, of course, we've always done for live events as well. But now you're talking about going into their homes.

And we've been working with some some people that this is what they do for a living as represent these, you know, represent talent and work with them, but they're so important to this, and they're so important in terms of the relationship with the client. You know, and overall, you need their, their goodwill and their, their blessing, you know. So making sure they're happy is a big is a big part of this, and oftentimes it's you know, you're bringing their audience to, to this person. Right, so you're starting off with a, you know, so whatever their following is, whoever's following them is going to be your, your core audience.

 

Savannah:

Like, just influencers alone, like on Instagram and stuff that they bring. It's a powerful marketing tool. But it can be intimidating if you've never worked with them before. Because you really don't know how to reach out, you know, where to start?

 

Matthew:

Yeah, and I would advise absolutely, you know, all of them have managers and agents. You know even the big influences. So that's oftentimes how you're getting them and making the deal with them. You have to be flexible, because you have to respond to their needs. And you know, some of them want to be more involved in the content than others.

You know, so that's also, you know, think about before you engage them, as you know, how much are they going to be dictating the, the content or the messaging versus your clients and the brand?

 

Savannah:

Yeah. And I would say too, look at their audience, is it make sure their audiences the audience that you want to captivate as well?

 

Matthew:

Absolutely. Then, you know, you can cross over depending on how much brand integration or product integration you have, because remember, that's, that's what's paying for this is, you know, these things are, you know, branded under name, basically, right. So there's, you know, if we're doing something about fashion and beauty, we're showing the product, and we're talking about the product. So it's kind of a balance between that and, you know, anecdotes and things like that.

So, you know, where does this where does it become endorsed? You know, versus just being a host, for example?

 

Savannah:

Yeah. Yeah, that was a question I wanted to ask because influencers celebrities working with them. It's a powerful marketing tool, but oftentimes, it can be very intimidating, especially for new promoters, because like I said, you don't, you don't know where to start. And, like you said, sometimes they can be divas, or sometimes they can be kind of hard to work with.

So back to your guys's events, live the live streaming events, and when it comes to marketing, live streamed events. That can be, I find that kind of tricky versus in person events, because I don't know, it's hard to make it stand out from the rest. I'm wondering if you have any suggestions when it comes to marketing a live streamed event and pulling content from it.

You know, standing out from everyone else in 2021 that is doing virtual events. How do you how do you captivate an audience that's constantly being, you know, thrown all these ads of this event, this event?

 

Matthew:

So I think that's one of the things that's come out of this and one of the key learnings even moving forward, you know, if we look if we look to the future, and how these things are gonna live on, once we're back to, quote-on-quote normal. Um, you know, there's definitely value here, in doing these and, you know, the benefits of, you know, not only doing the live event, but the reach, you know, the pure reach of, of doing a live stream, in addition to the, to the in person event.

So that's a, that's a definite value, and I think these things will, will continue.

In terms of marketing, I think one of the things that's coming out of this is that, you know, the world is just breaking up into smaller and smaller niche groups, you know, of people with, you know, particular interests, you know. So whether you're talking to like dog owners, or, you know, people that read people that we talk about books, book club, you know, or, or, you know, fashion and beauty as a broader, broader one, but, you know, sometimes these things are very targeted.

And, you know, if you're marketing in a very broad way, yes, you're competing with everything, so the the challenge is to compete, how do you reach that segment, that you really want, you know, that's really most likely to, to tune in be most interested, right?

And again, you know, part of it starts with, if you have the budget to do it, or you can do it is finding, you know, a celebrity or an influencer with a broad enough social base, you know, social media base to bring an audience to it, just based on their involvement. And one of the things that if you get to dealing with celebrities or influencers, you're going to have to negotiate their promotion of the event, in addition, just to showing up.

 

Savannah:

Yeah

 

Matthew:

Right? So you know, how many, how many posts are they going to do saying, come to you, you know. And then if you're on a platform, like Facebook Live, or Instagram, or Amazon, you know, it's using the platform to talk to people who are already there. Right? So, you know, or that are comfortable going to, to those sites already. Not sending somebody that's never been, you know, to a live stream before. So, you know, reaching out to those audiences reaching out to those segments.

These programs all had PR campaigns and social media campaign, getting different levels of influencers, to promote the event, in advance, are all for always driven.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, that's a good point. It's crazy. Because whatever your marketplaces however, niche, there is someone out there, like there's an influencer, that most likely matches your brand, and can easily help you.

But it's just I would say, when if you want it to work with influencers, celebrities, either take your time out to do the research, make sure that's right for you make sure you know your audience and, and what you're willing to negotiate and everything like that, or, take the easy route, and they can work with you guys and give you guys the work.

 

Matthew:

You know, we we recently did something for the NFL players Association, which had an annual live event, you know, and this is this is happening all over the place where you know, they're not just, you know, broad consumer emotional things, but even just talking to, you know, specific audiences, or more sort of b2b or, you know, or just specific customers, you know, a limited number of customers.

So, you know, that's an event that had been live for years, we had to figure out a way, you know, where, you know, you could virtually go room to room and interact with different people, versus, you know, doing it in a live situation.

So that was, you know, another other challenge. You know, after doing it, I think they see that there's, there's the opportunity to get a much broader and do it in a different way. So, while I think it'll come back live, I think they'll still be the opportunity to watch it live Stream.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I think after this, it's definitely, we're gonna see a lot of hybrid events, because I've talked to other promoters who did not want to do virtual at all, and then they did it, and they're like, wow, I'm reaching so many more people, my revenues up X percent. I can see that continuing on. And I do think it's great. I think hybrid events are great, but I'm ready for in person.

 

Matthew:

I think everybody is.

 

Savannah:

Eventually one day, and it's gonna be so weird, because we're not really gonna know how to act. But I'm glad everything's working out for you guys. And you're figuring it out, just like the rest of us.

 

Matthew:

And thank you so much.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, thank you for taking the time to talk to me. It was brief, but I had a great conversation.

 

Matthew:

Great. Well, I hope that some some help And there's anything we can do to help anyone that's listening let us know.

 

Savannah:

Yeah, I will attach links to your guys company and what you do so people can learn more. And if, if they want to just hand off the work to you, there you go. Thank you so much.

 


Show Notes

Allied Experiential: 

About the agency 

 

Live streaming platforms: 

Facebook Live

Amazon Live

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