So for any organization that has an annual meeting, industry conference, or trade show there is often an untapped opportunity to help improve the understanding, insight and awareness of key issues, technology and changes that will help regulators better do their jobs. It’s also most likely in favor of those you represent.
How you ask? For starters, before designing your next event, think about groups both favorable and unfavorable to your industry as a key audience. Regulators, industry influencers, policy makers, local governmental officials, watch dog groups, and activist groups are all potential players in your next event experience.
Your next question might be, what could we offer them that they would view as relevant, unbiased, and not available elsewhere? What would motivate them to get funding to attend and spend time traveling away from their work?
Here’s a short list to get you, your government affairs team, and your event design staff thinking:
- Present original research commissioned by an independent organization revealing key trends, factors, economic impacts, and risks that would be of keen interest to your core audience and those that influence and regulate your industry.
- Partner with and invite those less favorable to your industry and offer them access to key executives, industry suppliers, and customers of your industry for a series of candid Q&A sessions that opens a new dialogue.
- Design and host an innovation forum that introduces new technologies, solutions, and ideas that will benefit everyone attending AND allow regulators and influencers to see and experience what’s new first hand before anyone who isn’t at your event.
- Lead hosted tours of your trade show, offer special access to general sessions, plenaries, and educational sessions to those influencers and regulators who may never have been to your event and would benefit from special attention.
Many industries have individuals who are vocal and often have a negative perspective on your industry that could be improved by bringing them inside the tent. Regulators, elected officials, legislators and key industry watch dogs would learn a great deal (and maybe even be impressed by all that you and your industry are doing for the public good!). They might just have a new perspective after seeing how committed you are to working with them.
Sure, there are cynics, naysayers, and those who might see this as a ploy to garner favor or to win them over. It’s understandable. We all suffer from some form of confirmation bias and many of us listen only to an echo chamber of like-minded people. We often just tune out the other side.
But what do you have to lose? It’s worth considering this approach in these times when the stakes are so high. Offer an olive branch; approach outsiders knowing they might be skeptical and recognize they may not accept your first offer. It will pay off in the long run to open the door and invite those who will benefit from hearing your industry’s perspective first hand.
You never know the upside that you, your organization, and your industry may enjoy from taking the long view with those who, today, may seem like your adversaries.
E Pluribus Unum.