Relevance, consistency and the ability to speak with a single voice were among the key recommendations emerging from a day-long Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) conference on industry communications, held in Barcelona, Spain, in mid-November.
Attending were a broad cross-section of meetings industry leaders and communications /advocacy experts who had gathered to explore new strategies for advancing industry profile with key audiences, including governments as well as business, academic and professional communities that benefit from the meetings, conventions and exhibitions that are the industry product.
“This conference — the second in a series of industry-wide gatherings organized by [JMIC] to address key industry challenges — demonstrated a remarkable degree of consistency amongst industry leaders as to what our critical issues and messages need to be in order to gain traction with audiences that are and will continue to impact our collective future,” said Philippe Fournier, president, JMIC. “At the same time, it secured the views of both outside observers and professionals in the areas of communications and advocacy to help us better understand what we need to do in order to advance our proposition more effectively. Together, these perspectives have given us a better idea than ever before of what we need to communicate, who we should be addressing and how we can best deliver the message.”
The day-long session combined political, professional and media perspectives with practical case studies on successful communications initiatives and workshops in which industry leaders worked with advisors on the development of recommendations to guide future industry initiatives in this area. Among the recommendations that emerged as areas of consensus were:
- The paramount importance of having a concise and consistent industry message delivered as a “single voice” in place of scattered initiatives that only serve to confuse key audiences;
- A focus on societal benefits (medical, academic, economic) as the primary values arising from the industry in place of relying on purely financial measures;
- The importance of addressing government and community priorities in order to engage their interest;
- A need to build a greater level of trust and enhance relationships within the industry itself in order to create a basis for joint action;
- A shift of focus onto developing new initiatives that can be developed on a cooperative basis in place of simply revisiting past initiatives;
- The importance of clearly defining what is needed to support industry development as part of the message and of providing solutions to address this;
- The need to engage with mainstream media more effectively by recognizing their priorities and by shaping more newsworthy industry messages, and
- A requirement to maintain an ongoing, consistent communications /advocacy effort in place of only periodic initiatives.
“Given the nature of our industry as one comprised of a number of specialized organizations rather than a single entity representing everyone, it is important that we have a collective agreement on key messages and a basis for developing joint initiatives in order to project a sense of unity to governments and communities that make up our most important audiences,” said Fournier. “This conference, like its predecessor on Industry Valuation, has provided a basis for doing this, and we will be using the results to shape our materials and initiatives going forward with the hope that constituent industry organizations will follow suit.”
The Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC) is an organization that represents the combined interests of 15 international Meetings Industry associations. It has provided a forum for information exchange amongst industry groups for over 50 years and has recently become more engaged in the process of articulating and delivering industry messages as well as the mechanisms for documenting the value of the industry.