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Reputation Communications - Event Mastermind David Negri | Interview with an Expert

Unique Visions

An event can provide hosts with an invaluable opportunity to launch or rebrand. From an online reputation standpoint, few opportunities equal the asset-building capability on the Internet that a star-studded event does.

David Negri, CEO of DNConcepts, is a veteran event planner whose clients include leaders in pop culture, fashion and business. His events are often featured in media outlets from “Entertainment Tonight” to “The New York Times’” Style section and the “Palm Beach Post”. We interviewed him about the state of the event industry…and how to use events for strategic reputation management.

Messaging is an integral aspect of many events. How can hosts ensure their message engages guests without boring them?

Starting with the choice of invitations or evites, to the venue, decor and ambience, the messaging should reflect the host’s personality, style and the party’s purpose.  My role is to interpret how best to convey those things in the most compelling ways possible, and how to integrate everything to make a striking visual impact.

Technology has made many contributions that help messaging stand out. LED lighting continues to be very popular and effective because it is lightweight, incredibly versatile and easy to set-up without cumbersome power cords.  LEDs provide user-friendly technology and an array of colors with infinite applications.  Another popular lighting technology is “Image Mapping” which projects company logos, designs, dates, monogrammed initials or other visual designs onto a surface such as a wall or buildings.  Many are familiar with this technology when they see event dates and its associated brand logos projected onto historical building facades.  Image Mapping takes the old school “banners” and “billboards” to a whole new level … and making it a great tool for rebranding scenarios.

Public relations has always been a key aspect of event planning: first to sell tickets, second to brand the charity and last to ensure that party pictures and accompanying publicity are published as extensively as possible. What advice do you give clients who wish to maximize the opportunities the Internet offers for event PR?

Pre-event, optimize your event website for mobile devices.  Some event planners have found that up to 20% of registrations come from mobile, so if you have an event that requires online registration, you should make sure your website works well on smart phones and tablets.

Use social media outlets to promote the event before, and, when appropriate, during and afterwards.

One cautionary though.  Social media overwhelm is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses and charities.  They think it is necessary to have a presence on every social platform but it isn’t.   Attempting to cover all platforms spreads one too thin and wastes time and effort.

The solution is simple:  if social media makes sense for your business/charity, be where your customers are.  Find out where your customers are hanging out online.  Then, focus deeply on those platforms.

Social media is a vital PR tool. Outlets such as Facebook and Instagram help any event reach vast groups of people in a short time span without all the high costs. Utilizing well-chosen hashtags for the event will engage every guest into the interactive experience and also provide public awareness to the event, company or cause. This can be accomplished in various creative ways. One simple way is have the host or sponsor post a sign with a hashtag and encourage attendees to post their photos using it.

How are your clients utilizing real-time Internet PR and fundraising during the events your firm organizes? Are there new trends and platforms readers might not know about?

There are several new apps which help you and your guests communicate. YAPP is a good one.  It helps connect your guests with event news and current photos which they can share at the event and afterwards. They can also connect directly to the application through social media – making YAPP extremely user-friendly.

What makes some events become annual memorable, must-attend soirees and others fail in their efforts to attain that?

It’s all in the details.

So often, people want to recreate something they saw or experienced somewhere in the past. That doesn’t always translate well in real time. For example, what is needed to thematically execute an intimate dinner party of ten is not the same as what’s needed for a room filled with tables of ten.  The key there is how to interpret a client’s vision and make the needed tweaks to scale.   That said, ambience and decor make events memorable, but in the end, it’s the people that make the party.

You have a new client. He is a familiar face in a large industry and wants to use his event to reboot his image with a fresh brand image and a new message. What advice do you give him?

Strive to maintain the core identity on which the company/organization was founded. At the same time, explore innovative ways to highlight the brand in a new and reimagined way.

I am often asked to brainstorm with PR agencies about how to integrate a logo into events. That includes what appears in print, broadcast and social media.

Bringing a client’s new or reimagined image to life can be accomplished numerous ways.  For example, a cosmetic company typically holds its sales meetings in a conference room at its corporate headquarters, a space most employees are familiar with and not terribly excited by.  By transforming the space into something more dynamic and interactive, you can give it a needed reboot.  Various applications and theatrical elements can be added such as entertainment, classic stand-by confetti cannons, etc.

We have a client in the financial arena that would always end the annual awards dinner with the CEO’s thank-you speech.  There was no dancing, no deejay, and no lighthearted or celebratory fun.  I suggested we bring in a musical celebrity as a big surprise.  I knew the CEO could play the drums and arranged for him to sit in on a set and play that night to the jaw dropping delight of his employees.  Voila- a new image for the CEO, and a morale reboot for the company!

Sometimes older, reputable companies become complacent falling into the trap of working only with vendors that play it safe.  Although it is important to maintain relationships with trusted resources, fear should not prevent one from seeing things with fresh eyes. Sometimes a new perspective can work wonders.

David Negri’s clients include American Express, Armani, Coty, FIDF, Givenchy, Nokia, Revlon, Coty, RUSH Philanthropic, L’Oreal, Maybelline and Tyco, among many others.  Photo by Capeheart.

Weddings Illustrated - Colene Visser and David Frost

Unique Visions

In Stellenbosch, South Africa, where the mountains meet vineyards, Colene Visser and David Frost grew up living separate yet connected lives. Their family ties went back a generation, as their fathers were old friends. “My dad has known David since he was 5,” Colene says.

Colene, however, didn’t meet David until years later. It was November 1997, and David, a professional golfer, was living in the United States and traveling on the PGA Tour. The two hit it off when they met at a restaurant in Stellenbosch during one of David’s annual trips home, and they began dating.

Eventually, though, the distance proved to be too strenuous, and they went their separate ways. Each married someone else, and the two lost contact with one another.

Yet as fate would have it, history repeated itself 14 years later. In November 2011, both single again, Colene and David reconnected in South Africa, where David was playing in a tournament.

“He took me out for a drink, and a drink became dinner, and the next thing we knew, we spent a whole weekend just talking,” Colene recalls.

So smitten was David that three weeks into their relationship, he asked a stunned and tearful Colene to marry him.

“What people don’t understand is we’ve actually known each other for so long,” Colene says. “It was meant to be. You know in your heart.”