A License to Thrill

Monday, 21 October 2013, 17:18 | Category : General
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George mentioned a few weeks ago, on this very blog in fact, that the busy last quarter of 2013 will see us PR bods gearing up for a plethora of conferences and events.  No truer was that for me last week, when I had the pleasure of attending Brand Licensing Europe (or BLE to those in the know) at London Olympia.

Now despite me being a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to events, having started off in that field many moons ago, I still get the same rush as I always did when it comes to pacing the show floor for the first time with anticipation. Quite simply your eyes are bright with the sensory overload of what the attending companies have on offer, something akin to a small child let loose in a sweetshop.  And this year’s BLE did not disappoint.  For those of you that know me, you’ll know that the mainstay of events I’ve been involved with has typically been in the technology and telecoms fields. But not this week.  I entered the world of brand licensing where everybody from Moshi Monsters and Monopoly sat alongside Manchester United and Moto GP to meet face to face with retailers and licensees to talk about how they can extend their brands further through promotional partnerships.  Think Moshi Monster yoghurts, a Cbeebies theme park at Alton Towers and all the lovely Paddington merchandise that will come with the film in 2014, and you get the idea. If there is one show that screams ‘fun’ this is it.  From Disney princesses handing out lollipops to minions from Despicable Me roaming the show floor for photo opportunities, this show is one lovely bundle of fun.  But let’s not forget it’s also where people in the industry come to do big business. So it’s no surprise to learn from a recent poll by trade association LIMA (and I should at this point disclose that they are one of my clients) that nearly 50% of companies have grown at least 7% since last year.  That’s pretty good given the austere times we are currently living in and an indicator that it’s a buoyant industry.

I know that there have been widespread reports about the decline of the events industry in the last decade. With more investment being made in digital platforms that can deliver on virtual events as well as social networks transforming how we now connect with colleagues for business.  That indeed has its place and I can’t now imagine life without my smartphone organising and keeping me connected.  But for the big shows that have survived, they are definitely worth a visit.  There’s nothing that beats getting out there and seeing it for yourself and meeting people face to face – it’s what public relations (and indeed business) is built on right? Relationships.  So, if you’re faced with the prospect of attending an event over the next few weeks, and don’t think you can make the time out of the office, force yourself.  You’ll be surprised at what you might discover.

Eileen Boydell is a senior associate with The PR Network


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