Innovate or Snore

Author: Marni Edelhart

When you work all year to put together a single, major event, the day following that event is one of the best days of the year. Today is the day after Pivot and therefore, even though I am exhausted and feel a cold coming on, it is my favorite day of the year.

This was my third year working the Pivot Conference and by far the most interesting and dramatic.  While all events face their share of challenges—this one notwithstanding— I am so proud of the daring choices we made with Pivot 2013.

The Pivot Conference was established to address the challenges and opportunities facing major brands and agencies as we ride the waves of the Social Revolution. CMOs are being replaced by or partnered with CDOs and more recently CROs (Chief Relationship Officers). Social Media has become a phrase so ubiquitous it is nearly irrelevant, as has the word Social as a modifier. Social is no longer an adjective; it is a noun; it is our current reality.

All year, the Pivot team builds relationships at meetings, dinners and cocktail parties with leaders from brands, agencies and startups who we believe really “get it.” We share with them our beliefs in Social as so much more than media, and endless innovation as the new “normal.” We work with them to craft an agenda that delivers the actionable truths and outlook-transforming moments our audience demands.

As part of the Pivot team I take our partnership mission to heart and to be completely honest I was a little disheartened in 2012 when Pivot, held at the Times Square Crowne Plaza, looked and felt like so many other conferences.  I’d had enough of hotel conference rooms with their recycled air and outdated interiors.

Sure, we had our excellent executive producer and host in Brian Solis, who helped us deliver content that could not be beat. But the constraints of that uptown location prevented us from truly busting out of a conventional look and feel.

This year, at The Altman Building, we had a whole new level of control and truly ran with it.  Our stage was beautiful with sofas that curved in for natural conversation and dynamic lighting. We built our exhibit hall right into the main stage room so that our sponsors were truly integrated into the event. We offered three lunch summits in one shared space with content enjoyed via specially programmed headsets.

Some things that did not change were the high quality on-stage content, the absence of boring panels, and the impressive community of Social Business Leaders in our audience. The room was full of energy and abuzz with conversation.

For all of our hard work and innovation we got raves and we got rants and we are grateful for both.

Being Social and Innovative is all about taking risks, taking them publicly and in real time. It also means taking the hits when things are not perfect or to everyone’s liking.

All the great conversation we generated in the exhibit area this year, for example, made that rich on-stage content hard for many to hear.  Listening to a lunchtime summit on headsets can be tough when there are more people than headsets. When you have a nifty registration system on tablets, but the Internet for the whole block gets wiped out hours before doors open, it can get pretty ugly. We saw and heard your concerns about these shortcomings, and of course apologize for anything that detracted from any guest’s experience.

We do not however, apologize for trying new things or for falling short at some of them.  That is the nature of pushing the envelope. Personally I was so excited to walk into Pivot and see a space that felt 100% as unique as our community. It was a thrill to watch guests lean against a Chevy Impala while exchanging cards and sharing stories. And you know what, in a mobile-ready world nobody needs Wifi to tweet that Pivot’s Internet (actually the Internet for the whole block) is down; they can, and did, do it from their mobile devices.

It is a thrill to think about next year and which innovations to keep, which to toss and what else we can cook up to create a uniquely valuable experience for executives who are changing business and the world.

As always we’ll be ready to Pivot.



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