to be able to get it? Is the value proposition being properly identified and communicated to them? The tagline should effectively convey, in a clear and concise manner, just what the meeting is “about” — and it should be reinforced by what actually takes place in the breakout-session rooms. Suzette Hewitt, CMP, manager of national meetings for Girl Scouts of the USA, can say “yes” to each of those ques- tions as they apply to her slate of meetings and forums this year. The Girl Scouts’ year-long tagline — in celebration of the organization’s centennial — is “To Get Her There.” For the Girls’ World Forum in Chicago next month, Hewitt says that the focus of the event is all about encouraging girls worldwide to lead — to help them get “from here to there” — when tackling issues ranging from poverty to education. James agrees about the continued importance of an event
having some unifying element — which now, most often, is a tagline “centered around … what’s hot in the program part of your meeting.” She allows that you can still get away with theming one fun element of your meeting — a 1980s rock reception, say. Wiesenfeld, meanwhile, being in the corporate world, sticks with very corporate themes. “We don’t do Mardi Gras,” she said. For her, a good tagline is more about utilizing buzzwords in the marketplace — for example, “In a Changing World” or “At a Crossroads.”
› Themes Fall Apart
Lisa English, CMP, CMM, is marketing manager for strategic meetings manage- ment for Cvent, and program adviser for the Meeting and Event Planning Certifi- cate Program at California State Uni- versity San Marcos at Temecula. Here she tells the story of one finance-industry meeting theme that didn’t quite come together — and why.
I used to work for a large financial- services company, and every year for 20 years we did a large national conference. There was always this conflict of having to outdo the year before. But it’s not about outdoing — it’s about outsmarting. Everything was completely themed
up, and every year we’d start working on the theme for the following year. One of my favorites was called “It’s
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About Time.” It was kind of smart, as it was a double entendre; it had multiple meanings. The whole conference was all about time, and all the visuals looked like clocks. From a business standpoint, it was about taking sales to the next level. The following year we did a con- ference called “Elements,” where we used fire, water, and nature — every day had a different theme. And the business tie-in to that was learning about the elements of success. But one particular year we were
trying to do an “I Spy” kind of theme called “It’s Confidential,” with the whole Dick Tracy thing, manila folders, and so on. It turned out that we didn’t think it through enough. We failed in that particular theme because it didn’t have enough layers to it, and didn’t
translate well to writing and the con- tent that needed to be developed. You have to make sure you have a broad or narrow enough theme to do what you need to do. Also, given that this conference took place during a period of financial deregulation, the theme ended up hav- ing more of a negative connotation than we intended. It just fell flat.