Strategy

How 2 Associations Merged to Build a Successful Cohort

Charlotte Gentry, Founder and CEO of Pure Events and EVCOM board chair, recalls how the merger of two associations, which was not the obvious thing to do at the time, led in fact to genuine success and long-standing sustainability

Eight years ago, the merger of two separate associations brought live events agencies and corporate film makers together and EVCOM – the events and visual communications association – was created. 

At the time, the merger seemed unlikely as the two groups produced different work for different audiences and common ground was not immediately apparent to many within the industry. Yet despite this initial perception, the merger has proved to be a success, now more than ever. 

The obvious reasons are that it allowed a wider, more connected, forward-thinking association and inclusive community to emerge. As an umbrella association, EVCOM is able to campaign on, and represent members in, areas which affect members from both the events world and that of corporate film to the same extent, such as diversity and inclusion, sustainability and mental health and well-being. 

However, there are greater strengths that have truly come to the fore as a result of the COVID pandemic. The informal role EVCOM has played in bringing the two industries together has encouraged cooperation and collaboration with knowledge sharing resulting in new innovations. 

“The creation of EVCOM was prescient” says Claire Fennelow, executive director of EVCOM“The real value in connecting these two highly creative groups shone through in 2020 as events professionals worked with corporate film makers to create digital events. The strengths of both professionals have dove tailed beautifully and events professionals and corporate film makers are now benefiting from the rich potential they gain in working together.”

As live events were forced online due to the restrictions imposed by to COVID, the corporate film world worked with event organisers to create inspiring, engaging and entertaining digital events, bringing the best of both worlds together, creating a new experience for audiences. Together, event and film professionals have complimented each other’s skills and experiences, creating new ways of reaching audiences and delivering work. 

The digital acceleration driven by COVID means audiences are now far more comfortable accessing events online, and organisers have been on a steep learning curve to ensure the content and execution of virtual events meet the expectations of audiences happy to binge on a Netflix mini-series. The televisualisation of events has created an opportunity for corporate film makers who skills compliment those of event organisers. 

Even after COVID restrictions are relaxed, consumer behaviour will have changed such that hybrid elements are expected to be an integral part of any event. Having recognised the value in working together, events and film professionals want to continue to collaborate, blending the best of both of their worlds to create stand-out, memorable events for viewers as well as participants at live events. 

Although bigger than the two separate associations were individually, EVCOM is by no means a large association. It’s relative size – not gigantic nor insignificant – allows EVCOM to react quickly to events and emerging trends that affect its members, something which also benefited the association as the pandemic unfolded. 

For many associations there is increasing pressure on them to demonstrate their value to members – they need to offer more than a network of industry professionals, and there are likely to be more mergers between small associations in the near future. Fennelow believes that to survive and thrive, small associations need to seek out others with complimentary skills and interest which together will make both parties stronger. 

“Building membership from new pools of professionals and strategically seeking out new partners will be key for successful associations of the future.” She says. “Good leaders need to be visionaries and look to the horizon to see how they can best position themselves to take advantage of trends that are likely to emerge over time.”

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