The following interview was conducted by Tisch Center student worker, Haley Park.
What is your background?
I began my career in the entertainment industry, as a professional musician. Later I got involved in events and sports marketing, by first working in the hotel/hospitality industry for Hilton, while also continuing my work in entertainment. After some success in both careers, I was lucky enough to snag a position as Director of Special Events at the world famous Palladium, which at the time, was the largest performance/club venue in New York City. Next, I worked on the brand side of things learning consumer product sales and marketing for Anheuser Busch, working mainly on the Budweiser, Bud Light brands. AB was the last time I worked for a company other than one that I owned. Since 1995, I’ve helmed The RL Gant Group Inc., sports, entertainment, experiential and media marketing agency.
Events are increasingly becoming a central part of many companies’ marketing strategies – experiential marketing through events seems a real trend right now. Why do you think a company may choose to market itself through events?
Since people aren’t watching TV as much they used to and there are multiple screens where we view entertainment and sports, as well as the ability to access content on demand, it’s become difficult to only deliver mass messaging across those and other traditional platforms. Event marketing delivers an opportunity to develop, reinforce and deepen brand relationships with our customers. Engaging with customers through onsite activation with specific brand messages linked to specific campaigns, is a valuable opportunity that allows us to reach out and touch the customer in-person. It’s an opportunity to provide information and receive immediate feedback, while growing customer relationships.
What are other trends have you seen in the event industry?
Collecting, analyzing and disseminating data is one area that is a key trend, as it is across the marketing communications mix. This year, my agency RL Gant developed and began implementing an activation, engagement and measurement strategy with an accompanying tactical plan to be offered across our client or owned properties. It’s crucial to be familiar with and implement measurement tools. Brands want to know that their spend on a specific platform will lead to ROI. The goal is to track activation and engagement, gather data and deliver a report for review by all stakeholders. Incorporating technology like VR and AR is also becoming a big part of engagement, as well as live streaming over social media or OTT platforms.
The Tisch Center offers an MS in Event Management. Can you tell us about the course you will teach in this program?
I will be teaching Event Marketing Strategies beginning this fall. The course will cover proven and real time techniques from the brand and agency perspectives. We will study how creative strategy is executed, how to successfully integrate, marketing and communications mix elements effectively. Students will come to understand processes and trends, customer and competitor analysis, how hospitality fits in the mix, pricing, internal and external strategies, both traditional and social media partnerships and the rationale for creating once in a lifetime brand experiences and strategies to leverage involvement.
What advice do you have for students who want to build their career in the event sector?
Event marketing has experienced steady growth since it inception. There is a real chance that this growth will continue. Learn as much as you can about marketing from the brand and agency sides of the equation. There is never enough research that you can undertake in this business as trends change every day. Study the business and the rationale behind it. Network with industry professionals. Attend IEG Sponsorship Conference and/or Event Marketing Summit at least once. And now that NYU is offering the M.S. in Event Management, enroll! I out work, out read, out research my colleagues and stay on top of news and treads daily. When I hit the pavement everyday, I’m prepared. As should you. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this industry, keep your eyes and ears open and stay up to date with proven strategies.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
After leaving Palladium in 1990, and returning from a short stint at Lucas Arts in California, I returned to NYC and enrolled in an NYU summer intensive course called Sports, Entertainment and Events Marketing. In 1998 I was invited back as a guest lecturer for that same course. The following year, the founder of the program asked me if I would fill in for him and next, I was asked to co- lead the program. NYU truly opened a whole new world for me and my career blossomed because of it. There are many successful professionals who have graced these classes. I’m very proud and grateful to be one of them.