Ep. 4 “Shifting Brands to Virtual”

On the next episode of The Checklist, we had the opportunity to talk to Olivia F. Scott of Omerge Alliances about how to sustain brand experience in the virtual space.

As a marketing strategist with 26 years of experience in marketing and public relations, Olivia has an extensive background with Essencefest and companies like Live Nation, VIBE Magazine, and Carol’s Daughter.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • How event marketing has been affected
  • How to maintain brand consistency online and offline
  • What brand partnerships will look like in the future

Listen to the full episode here:

About Olivia F. Scott

Olivia F. Scott is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Omerge Alliances, an integrated marketing management consultancy. Delivering brand strategy, marketing planning, media buying & wellness experience brand solutions, Omerge’s current and previous clients include ESSENCE Festival, ESSENCE, Media Storm, IMAN Cosmetics, Andre Walker Hair, BRWL Studios, Urban Skin Rx, among others.

Olivia has served as an Adjunct Professor since 2009, teaching a range of classes including Competitive Strategy, Media Management, Events Marketing and Partnership Marketing courses at New York University and Institute of Audio Research. Olivia has also been served as an expert marketing witness for Morgan & Morgan Law Firm identifying unethical marketing practices in the beauty industry.

Olivia’s professional experiences include serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Carol’s Daughter; Associate Publisher/Head of Marketing, VIBE Magazine; Vice President, Alliances, Live Nation; Director of Partnership Marketing, iN DEMAND TV, in addition to account management roles at DDB, Leo Burnett, Ogilvy, Draft and Frankel agencies.

Olivia has led strategy for wellness & entertainment experiences for ESSENCE Festival since 2014, and also creates community & workplace wellness experiences via her Freedom At The Mat platform. Olivia earned a Bachelor’s of Journalism from University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Master’s of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University. She resides in Harlem, NYC and New Orleans.

About Omerge Alliances

With grace, leadership & respect, Omerge Alliances leads their beauty, health and wellness brand clients through the marketing management process, providing services such as: live & virtual experiential strategy & event creation; direct-to-consumer advertising, including Google AdWords & Facebook/Instagram ads; marketing strategy & media planning; and influencer marketing.

Learn more here: https://omergealliances.com/

Ep. 1: How To Attract Money To Your Events

We’re so excited to introduce our new podcast, The Checklist, where we talk with event experts about the state of event culture and tips to elevate your next event.

On our first episode, we spoke with Enovia Bedford of Vettdeck, about “How To Attract Money To Your Events.” She broke down the do’s and don’ts of exploring sponsorship with the current state of events and how that applies to attracting money for your online events.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • The most important things to include in your sponsorship deck
  • The best time to approach a sponsor (considering the sponsorship cycle)
  • How to find the right brands to work with for your event

Listen to the full episode here. Other ways to listen: Youtube | Soundcloud | iTunes

You can learn more about Enovia by following her on Instagram: @novey.b @vettdeck  

About Vettdeck

Vettdeck is a sponsorship matching platform that simplifies and streamlines the sponsorship process for event organizers and brands. Visit them online at: www.vettdeck.com

Make Virtual Events Great

Human beings are social creatures, thus the value of face-to-face interaction can never be diminished. However, in the times of Corona and the digital revolution, virtual events are becoming just as important – and business savvy – as the traditional in-person interaction. 

But with so many companies employing this strategy, how can you make your virtual event stand out?

Here are some suggestions:

Add vendors to your event 

There is nothing like a vendor to add spice to an already tasty event palate. Including a comedian or singer into your schedule can break up monotonous areas of your programming and even invite a new audience to support your event. Moreover, virtual vendors are often more cost-friendly than hiring them in-person. At the same time, you wouldn’t necessarily have to cut back on your profits if the event is marketed well with a lot of attendees. This scenario can be a major win for your company.  

Try virtual games.

We are never too old to play games. In fact, according to Science Daily, video games can help to improve mental cognition in people of all ages, from youngsters to the elderly. But what does this mean for your virtual event? Well, for one, gaming is fun! It’s a great way to keep your audience engaged and enjoying themselves. Also, gaming can be used as a marketing tool for your company, positioned as an analogy for your particular theme. Lastly, gaming is another way to add a vendor to your event (see #1 for these benefits). Some gaming companies have gone virtual and offer bingo and other games to play over Zoom and webinar platforms. Find a game that suits your audience and have fun!

Use Video Production

Along with the digital revolution came huge advances in media production tools. Use this to your advantage in your virtual event. When people can literally shoot videos from their phones nowadays, there is no reason why you can’t find creative video footage to add to your event. Video, like games, help to keep your audience engaged and can break up monotonous moments. In addition, video marketing is becoming the norm in business, thus customers are not only used to seeing videos but even expect it. Try hiring a video marketing specialist or editor for ideas on which videos would be best to include in your program.

Do a #Challenge

Who can forget the #IceBucketChallenge of 2015 or the #DontRushChallenge
currently sweeping the web? These internet phenomenons are entertaining, amusing, and so wide-spread that even celebrities join in and national news organizations cover them. Wouldn’t you like to get free publicity from a celebrity or national news organization? Of course you would. So start a challenge either before, during, or after your event to get people talking and sharing your message.

These are just a few ways to make your virtual events great. With new events popping up everyday, you should try some of them to see which fits your style or needs. You never know, CNN or Brad Pitt could end up promoting your event. 

Tell us some of your ideas to make virtual events great in the comments below. 

Get to Know Event Producer, Auriella Oates

If you’ve ever heard of The Art of Metanoia, then you know this woman has curated a special event that celebrates art and culture. We caught up with Auriella Oates, the founder of The Art of Metanoia to understand how she got started and what she’s learned along the way. Check it out here:

This year, The Art of Metanoia celebrates 3 years! To learn more about their upcoming events, visit their website at: https://www.theartofmetanoia.com/.

8 Things I Learned From Planning The Worst Event of My Life

Events suck. Or at least that’s how I felt after planning a baby “Fyre Festival”. After 8 years of producing events, my first festival flopped and I lost everything.

First, let’s set the scene: I was a 25 year-old event producer with my own production company that I launched straight out of college. (another risky move, but we’ll save that for another day) By now, I had quite a few successful events & concerts under my belt. I’m all about challenging myself so it only made sense (in my mind) to raise the bar and do a festival.

I had become obsessed with Woodstock. Watched all the documentaries, lost footage, interviews…I just knew I was the chosen one to create a modern day woodstock. So I set out to change the game: I had the perfect theme, perfect venue, perfect price and perfect line up so by default, it should have been the perfect event right? Right…..

But that didn’t happen at all. It was more like this:


Well not as bad but still…not as great either from an event planner’s perspective. The Event Gods probably would have graded this an E for embarrassing.

After 2 years of recovering, I can finally come out of hibernation and share 8 lessons I learned:

Start small.

The dreams of recreating woodstock could have been traded in for a small mock event. Don’t get me wrong, we pulled over 2,000 people but in a venue that could hold over 10,000, it looked like ants on a farm. Smaller events are easier to manage, have a higher success rate, less expenses & less headache! Whether it’s your first event or first festival, start on the small scale so you can easily validate the idea and grow from there. Afterall, Coachella was once a small concept in someone’s mind that grew over the years.

Get more than enough sponsorship.

Cash rules everything around….us. (Don’t worry, I know the real lyrics) While I wish charm could pay some bills, it definitely doesn’t. Its cool to get a few supporters but the key to successful event planning is to spend other people’s money wisely. If you were only able to bag one sponsor, clap for yourself and postpone the event until you finish fundraising. Sure ticket sales can cover the rest of your expenses but it’s always best to walk into your event with all expenses paid so ticket sales are all profit. We were lucky to get a few supporters but quickly turned to investors when we saw we didn’t have enough money. Wrong move. Event sponsors exist for a reason. Find them & use them. No matter how long it takes, hustle for sponsorship. Lesson: Get more than enough sponsors and if you fall short, stop while you’re not ahead.

Find vendors that work with you and not for you.

There’s a very fine line between vendors and partners. Vendors are the key to any event so it’s extremely important you find quality vendors that understand the bigger picture. You don’t want to just hire a DJ, you want to work with them. What do they need to make this the greatest performance ever and in turn will thrill your audience? Don’t just sell vendor booths, identify and target vendors that your audience will love; work with them to make their stations interactive to boost sales and keep your audience talking long after the event. Don’t just focus on your event, focus on vendors too. I wish vendorspace were around during this time, to help identify quality vendors.

Align with those that believe in your mission.

This is a team effort…don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. From sponsors to venue to vendors, we are all in this together because everyone’s reputation is on the line. Have a meeting, or 7, and really layout your goals. Everyone plays a role in the success of your event, don’t let one person’s greed ruin it. We found ourselves partnering with people to add more “hype” to the event but not enough “value.” Wrong move #2. Our company was dedicated to creating cool events for social change (which will soon be resurrected), but people were more drawn to the ‘cool event’ than the ‘social change.’ Stick to your mission and find those [sponsors, entertainment, vendors, etc.] to ride with you.

Trust your gut.

It’s your vision. No one else really understands it like you do. If you’re not comfortable with something change it & always go with your intuition first. Good intentions bad decisions can easily be avoided by trusting your gut. There were plenty of signs that told me to throw in the towel but decisions were clouded by the momentum and success of our marketing. We had the streets buzzing only to regret ever opening those doors. We put way too much pressure on ourselves to make sure the event still happened.

Have a team….and trust them.

You will eliminate half the stress (well maybe not half but at least a quarter) if you simply get a team! We needed permits, staging, police, security, port-a-potties, lighting and the list goes on and on and on… and on. Your list may not be half as long but get people to help. People who know what they’re doingnot recruiting your friends (huge difference!) and allow them to do their jobs. It will alleviate a lot of unwanted chaos.

Don’t force it.

I know — “It must happen now.” But then again, it actually doesn’t have to. Sometimes it’s best to pivot even in mid motion. Never be afraid of change even if it means cancelling the day of. It may not be the most popular decision but you know best. If things are not flowing organically and there are too many roadblocks, maybe you should pull back and re-strategize but never feel that it has to happen. The world isn’t stopping today, you can host your event another day.

Get over it.

The unfortunate truth is shit happens. Just as with any business, sometimes you lose. The quicker you embrace failure, the better. Don’t sulk around counting your losses. You may be wasting time neglecting another great idea. Admit it, address it, accept it and move on. This failure led me to my new venture so I sincerely hope you fail faster than you soar.

This was the best, worst thing that ever happened to me. It was a game changer in my life and career. But as I look back, I wouldn’t change a thing. At least I had the opportunity to share 8 things I learned to stop you from going down the same path.

What are some things you learned from an embarrassing mistake or failure in your life?