by Matt Alderton | December 04, 2013
Learning to speak with a “single voice” was the goal of a daylong conference hosted last month by the Joint Meetings Industry Council (JMIC). The event — the Conference on Industry Communications — took place at EIBTM in Barcelona, where a cross-section of meetings industry leaders and communications/advocacy experts discussed how to advance the industry’s profile with key audiences, including government, business and academic stakeholders.

“This conference — the second in a series of industry-wide gatherings organized by the Joint Meetings Industry Council to address key industry challenges — demonstrated a remarkable degree of consistency amongst industry leaders as to what our critical issues and messages need to be in order to gain traction with audiences that are and will continue to impact our collective future,” JMIC President Philippe Fournier said in a statement. “At the same time, it secured the views of both outside observers and professionals in the areas of communications and advocacy to help us better understand what we need to do in order to advance our proposition more effectively. Together, these perspectives have given us a better idea than ever before of what we need to communicate, who we should be addressing and how we can best deliver the message.”

During the conference, industry leaders agreed on the importance of having a concise and consistent industry message instead of “scattered initiatives.” They also agreed that said industry message should focus on societal benefits — including medical, academic and economic benefits — as the primary values arising from meetings and events, rather than purely financial benefits.

In order to achieve their joint communication goals, industry groups acknowledged the need to build a greater level of trust and enhance relationships amongst themselves, and to engage more effectively with mainstream media by recognizing their priorities and by shaping more newsworthy industry messages.

Finally, it was agreed that a the industry must find a way to maintain an ongoing, consistent communications and advocacy effort, as opposed to the periodic initiatives that it’s embraced in the past.

“Given the nature of our industry as one comprised of a number of specialized organizations rather than a single entity representing everyone, it is important that we have a collective agreement on key messages and a basis for developing joint initiatives in order to project a sense of unity to governments and communities that make up our most important audiences,” Fournier continued. “This conference … has provided a basis for doing this and we will be using the results to shape our materials and initiatives going forward with the hope that constituent industry organizations will follow suit.”

JMIC was established in 1978 as a forum for the exchange of information and perspectives amongst international associations engaged in various aspects of the meetings industry. According to the council, it is now engaged in the process of “building better communications and linkages amongst member organizations” and advancing the industry’s profile “along with a greater appreciation of the value the industry brings to the global economy.” Its members include many of the major meetings associations in the United States and abroad, including Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Society of Incentive Travel Executives (Site).