Archive for New Norm | Equality

No Respect, No Service

The famous ad – “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” – is successful both in it catchiness and truism: in Las Vegas you can let your hair down and behave in ways you may want to forget. Given Vegas’ place as a center for conferences and trade shows, the reference is certainly not just to personal visits, but to event attendees as well.

num5_mThe events environment – not just in Las Vegas – has for some people offered an opportunity to act in ways different from how they might at their grandparent’s dinner table. At one product launch, not only did organizers need to ensure the audience didn’t “overly interact” with the band members (and vise-verse), a crew member was locked out of his room while dressed in women’s clothing, and two marriages resulted from the 4 days on site.

Mostly innocent, antics such as these were referred to as “road rules”, even before the popular MTV show of the same name.

Now a new trend is emerging that attempts to put restraints and context to the more extreme and disruptive of this behavior. With an increased awareness, and declining social acceptance, of any behavior that is harassing or disrespectful, event hosts and organizers are publishing Codes of Conduct and Anti-Harassment statements.

Not totally new – codes of conduct have been common at internal events and as reminders of employee everyday codes of conduct – these policies and statements are becoming more common at external and 3rd party programs. Also new is they are now more prominent including as posted reminders at the venue and in the show guide, not just as part of the registration and confirmation micro type.

comicon code_editAt their core, the Codes of Conduct and Anti-Harassment Statements outline the consequences (mostly being asked to stop, or being removed from the event) for engaging in unacceptable and/or harassing behavior. Many are short, sweet, and to the point appearing to have been written by legal. Others are page long documents (seemingly written by PR) in a more casual voice that address the need more directly, and contain long lists of (interesting) reasons people harass each other.

For instance, the DreamForce Code of Conduct contains over 700 words, and a list of 13 specific “unacceptable behavior”, while “Conduct” in Apple’s WWDC online details, contained a total of 77 words.

Google’s Anti-Harassment Policy starts: Why do we have an official anti-harassment policy for Google events? First, it is necessary (unfortunately). Harassment at events is incredibly common.”

And the Conference Code of Conduct includes a list containing:gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof).”

A discussion around the need for such policies, much less their increased prominence, quickly becomes heated and passionate. Some argue (correctly) that the vast majority of events already manage such incidents quickly, privately, and in much the way the Code of Conduct states, so what’s changed? Others ask if there is truly a need for the event to play such a “parental” role or if the parties involved should be left to manage the issue as if it occurred on the public street instead of at the event.

The conclusion, by a growing number of events, is that they do have a responsibility, and an active role, in creating and ensuring a harassment free experience at their events.




Note: Microsoft’s Code of Conduct states:

Microsoft mission is to empower every person and every business on the planet to achieve more. This includes at [EVENT] where we seek to create a respectful, friendly, and inclusive experience for all participants.

As such, we do not tolerate harassing or disrespectful behavior, messages, images, or interactions by any event participant, in any form, at any aspect of the program including business and social activities, regardless of location.

We encourage everyone to assist in creating a welcoming and safe environment. Please report any concerns, harassing behavior, suspicious or disruptive activity to the nearest security guard or show staff.

Microsoft reserves the right to refuse admittance to, or remove any person from [event name] at any time in its sole discretion.




The only thing we have in common is that we are all different.

In live marketing such as tradeshows, events, conferences, etc., feeling welcomed and being included is critical. It can mean the difference between having the broadest impact, or not; having relevant experiences and receiving the right content, or not; and most importantly, walking away with a positive impression, or not.

iStock_000001568739smallerDiversity – The aspects of diversity people are most attuned to are those apparent to their eyes and ears, or which are in the headlines: gender, skin color, national origin, sexual identity and preference. But there are many facets that make us who we are and it is important that we think broadly and also consider less-apparent traits such as life experience and heritage when planning events.

People are also diverse in physical capabilities or needs – for example sight, hearing, or mobility challenges. These may be temporary or permanent – think of accommodations that would be appreciated by an audience member with a broken leg or one who is pregnant.

Diversity is also evidenced in beliefs and backgrounds – a person may have religiously-motivated needs or assumptions based on political views, educational focus and accomplishment, or socio-economic upbringing or current status.

Diversity is good, and in more ways than may be apparent. In scientific and social disciplines, bio-diversity leads to better outcomes. In metal-working, mixing multiple raw materials creates stronger or more pliable composites. For investors, diversifying financial holdings reduces risk and increase yield. In civil society, consider a 1978 decision by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell (Regents of Univ. of Cal. v. Bakke), in which he contended that the “future depends upon leaders trained through wide exposure to the ideas and mores of students as diverse as this nation of many peoples.”



Inclusion – Inclusion is the intentional response to diversity. Organizations should plan, structure, design, and execute events to ensure all audiences are welcomed and accommodated. Planners can make logistical, environmental, and other decisions to make audiences comfortable and eliminate any elements that are intentionally or inadvertently dismissive or exclusionary.

Customers and partners are sure to be as diverse as the world they come from – around the globe and from all cross-sections of the population – and will respond best to being surrounded by a diverse crowd, to recognizing those who “are like them,” and to feeling included by all event elements – especially those that recognize and respect their particular diversities.

Inclusion exemplifies “Yes. And…” thinking. Yes, inclusion is right for moral reasons. And, inclusion has direct business impact. The more people who feel included in the experiences, messages, communications, marketing – the more potential customers there are.

An example: shops in ancient Roman forums often had mosaics depicting the commerce taking place within – fish for a fishmonger or a ship for a sail-maker – because not all locals could read and many foreign visitors did not speak the language. Merchants using just the written word would have cut off much of their potential market. While illiteracy is not likely to be a problem at events today, the lesson remains – recognizing diversity through inclusion can drive increased business.

Companies and organizations big enough to host conferences are likely to have corporate diversity policies and event professionals’ efforts should begin there. This could include partnering with human resources teams where diversity plays a critical role in recruitment and retention of employees, and where a broad and inclusive workforce has benefits in building relationships with partners and customers.


Event Planning – From the time planning begins, an inclusionary mindset can help reach the broadest audience. Even setting event dates can benefit from sensitivity to the diversity of the audience – for example, planners in the U.S. think to plan around majority religious events like Easter or Christmas, or national milestones like the Fourth of July. It’s equally respectful to note other cultures’ or religions’ significant dates such as the Jewish High Holy Days or Ramadan for Muslims.

Bring diverse voices into the planning process. This could mean including other business groups to create a more compelling agenda, or reviewing event plans with representatives from key gender, race, and cultural groups to add details and avoid pitfalls that a less diverse team might miss.

Recruit a diverse speaker base – speakers can include employees, customers, partners, industry experts, specialists from other industries, even celebrities.

The same considerations apply to third-party events. Booths, side-rooms for meetings, and any sponsored activities should be accessible and inclusive, and on-site staff should represent the diversity of our company and customers.


Event Logistics – From working with caterers to address the array of food options available today – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, kosher, halal, and more – to designating and outfitting new mothers’ rooms or prayer rooms, there are many ways to make an audience feel respected and included.

Diverse conference greeters can smile warmly and say “good day” to everyone, while aiding to those who may need it without drawing undue attention.

Arranging services for attendees with hearing, vision, or mobility challenges is now standard and many service providers exist to help. This may include arranging ability-aware lodging options for these attendees, and transportation options that take this into account. Clear signage and wide hallways clear of clutter will be appreciated not only by those of different abilities, but all attendees.

Even taxonomy can play a role. A recent conference in the southern U.S. offered a themed evening for which all attendees were asked to wear white, and it was billed as the “All White Party.” More thought might have led to a more sensitive and inclusionary name such as “Wear White Party” or another theme entirely.


Note: This topic is a derivative of a recent Trends and Innovations article released by Microsoft’s Marketing Events and Production Studios.

No [self determined] Good Deed Goes Unpunished


During the fundraising for the New World Symphony in Miami, there was a donation for $90 million. The scale of the donation is not the most interesting aspect, the fact that the donation is from “anonymous” is. A business making a donation of this size would want the associated publicity. But why would an individual not?

As the saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished”; referring to the challenge, and often failure, of seeing reward for doing something positive. It is much harder to “punish” someone named “anonymous”.

With the increased focus on equality, and the rise of transparency, what was once a good deed may no longer be. Changing times call for a change in goodness.

How could it be wrong to try to help the homeless?

BBH Labs tried to help the homeless at the SXSW event in 2012 with a program called “Homeless Hotspots”. They paid select homeless $20 a day [some say more, some less] to serve as Wi-Fi hotspots.

They received unfavorable press and questions about the morality of the program. The publicity aspect certainly took from the “pureness” of the good deed. Nonetheless, conversation was generated and awareness rose.

It was suggested that had the organizers hired college students like at a tradeshow, there would have been no controversy. However, it is likely these college students would have been paid minimum wage, provided meal breaks, and had their earning reported.

But as a charitable innovation initiative (as the organizers called it) the intent was to “support the homeless population”, not college students. This intent seems to have become well buried. The objective seems lost in the execution; the promotion of the social and economic conditions submissive to the technical one.

It is often quoted in the mobile industry that there were more mobile phones than toothbrushes in the world. Wouldn’t the best way then, to have a positive impact on the world, be to provide more toothbrushes?

Instead of being a Human Hotspot, What would a $5,000 to $10,000 3-month internship have meant to these individuals? With only 13 participants listed on the web site, the costs would have been less than the annual [possibly quarterly] salary of one creative director.

The opportunity to gain more than just a few dollars during SXSW might have supported the homeless population in a different way. The individuals benefit by being exposed to careers and opportunities in the advertising industry, and BBH gains the opportunity to add new talent, voices, and insight on a segment of [admittedly not currently very active] consumers. Who could have a problem with an internship?

It turns out, some interns do.

A staple for career development, apprenticeships and internships are found in many professions from blue to white collar. Interns and apprentices can be found on construction sites and in the White House, law firms and ad agencies, large and small companies.

In some industries, an apprenticeship or internship is a required career step; just ask Mickey Mouse and the Sorcerer. Serious, high schools to doctorate programs encourage and assist in placing interns annually.

Yet with the changes in social and economic norms, the days of  low or unpaid internships may be ending. Once a rite of passage, some internships maybe reaching beyond mutual benefit and towards unfair labor practices.

Equality, like much in life, needs to work for all parties involved – whether the homeless, interns, or large organizations. Maybe the saying should be altered to say:

No [self determined] good deed goes unpunished” 



Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

Full disclosure:

  • I make most of my personal donations under anonymous or my cats’ names;
  • I am not the donor to the New World Symphony mentioned above;
  • I had several unpaid internships while in high school and college, and paid internships in college.





The history of the event industry can be characterized as an unending search for the next big “WOW”.

Today’s corporate events and conferences are filled with the best ideas and technology from television, entertainment and social media. They are complex and expensive undertakings requiring large internal teams to develop and support the content, a large portion of the sales force to host the audience, and armies of specialized freelancers to execute the logistics.

Often corporate events cost more then a Super Bowl campaign. Which begs the question of why measuring the business impact of an event has never been an integral part of these complex undertakings.


Dynamics Driving Corporate Event Measurement

We believe that a sea change in corporate event measurement is underway, driven by two very different forces.

The first is obvious, economics. CMO’s in every industry are under increasing pressure to demonstrate a return from every line item in their budgets. For the first time, innovative companies are conducting market research to determine how the effect of events at influencing brand perception, accelerating pipeline and ensuring customer loyalty through education.

The second dynamic is that customers are now making enterprise level purchase decisions based on their own independent online research. Traditional marketing departments have lost control of the dialogue, and are no longer the only source of product information. No one knows where it goes from here.


Development of The AIR Score

What is needed is a way for event marketers to identify the issues most likely to garner online commentary from their attendees. Working with our client Scott Schenker, Vice President, SAP we developed a technique called the AIR Score, short for Audience Impact Rating.

The genesis of the AIR Score was the realization that the two most commonly used reporting conventions, “Top Box” and “Averaging” are both designed to present data in a way that all but ignores those most likely to be part of an online discussion.


The Pitfalls of Top Box Scoring

The “Top Box” system adds the percentage of responses in scoring boxes 4 and 5, and reports the total as the result of the question.

This yields sentences like “80% of the respondents found the xyz aspect of the event to be somewhat or extremely valuable.”

This approach has two shortcomings:

1/ Top Box scoring paints an unduly rosy picture of the results.

“Top Box” scoring combines the ‘5 ranking’ which indicate that the respondent is “extremely” positive; with the ‘4 ranking’ which indicate that the respondent is politely noncommittal – the “somewhat” 4s.

This example clearly demonstrates the problem. A “Top Box” Score of 80% can be derived in many ways, which in no way can be considered equal.

2/ Top Box scores provide no insight into what is going on in the other three boxes.

Yes, a veteran executive or manager with the time to read through the data should pick up these distinctions. But they are not readily apparent in the reporting that most people rely on to make decisions.


The Pitfalls Of Averaging

As the name implies, averaging focuses attention on the middle, not on what is going on at the fringes…

This example demonstrates that while “Averaging” is more responsive to the audience then the “Top Box”, by design it mutes (damps) the extremes, the respondents that we are the most interested in.

The AIR scores in this example shift 20 points, moving from Good to Poor, clearly signaling an increasing number of Detractors. The Weighted Average has a subtler downward trend, within a range  (north of 3.5) that is considered acceptable by many companies. This is an important distinction.

  What An AIR Score Does The AIR Score was developed to provide event sponsors and managers with a metric that enables them to quickly identify the issues most likely to influence the larger universe of clients and prospects post-event. The AIR Score is calculated using the data from a Likert scale response.

AIR categorizes the survey respondents into three segments.

  • The Promoters are enthusiastic about the item in question.
  • The Neutral group is neither unhappy nor enthusiastic.
  • The Detractor group is negative and unhappy.

5) Extremely Valuable


4) Somewhat Valuable


3) Neutral


2) Not Very Valuable


1) Not At All Valuable


Our hypothesis is that the Promoters and Detractors are much more likely to share their opinions then the Neutrals.

The AIR Score reports the relationship of Promoters to Detractors among all scores as a number between 0 and 100, where 100 are all Promoters.

Though they are based on the same data, neither  “Top Box” nor “Average” explicitly reveal this relationship.

In effect, this is grading on a curve that is biased so that a response of  ‘somewhat valuable’ has the same value as a polite ‘neutral’.

  Applying the Air Score

The AIR Score factors the entire range of scores (all responses) into account             (i.e. it is normalized).

We, and most of our clients deem an event to be successful when significantly more attendees go home as Promoters then Detractors. We developed the following scale to aid in interpretation of the scores.

Because the AIR Score reports the results as a single number, it is a useful tool for comparing scores from different questions, and even different events. It can be applied after the fact to any historical Likert scale data; and can be used to compare data gathered using unbalanced scales with data collected using balanced scales.

While for know marketers sponsoring virtual events seem happy to count ‘clicks’, ‘likes’ and ‘tweets’, we are already engaging in discussions about how to connect the participant experiences. The AIR Score will be an important bridge.

We are happy to share the “math”. We invite you to contact us if you have any questions, or would like to have the formula to apply in your own work.

Christopher Korody and Kevin O’Neill are the Partners at Audience Metrix, a market research firm focusing on conducting research at corporate events.

New Norm | Equality

“At least since the French Revolution, equality has served as one of the leading ideals of the body politic; in this respect, it is at present probably the most controversial of the great social ideals.”1

The notion of equality is much simpler than the reality.

Explore Wikipedia, the Stanford article quoted above, or many other sources on the subject and it becomes clear that equality is much easier to support in concept than to understand or achieve in reality.

Do we mean equality of opportunity, of outcome, of surrounding, of conditions, of access? Should we all be 6 feet tall; have the opportunity to be 6‘ tall; or not be looked upon differently if we are not exactly 6’ tall? The answer is – unfortunately – not always equitable.

Recently, while boarding a flight overseas, the perception of inequality was brought to light. The second group to board was called, and as has become the norm, this group consisted of high mileage flyers. As soon as they started heading for the plane, someone not in this group began loudly complaining “why should these people get to board before I do?”

This question had not been raised (publically at least) when the first group boarded – consisting of families with small children and those “needing more time to board”. But it was now being loudly asked.

Activities that appear to differentiate are less and less tolerated. It is the populist aspect of the notion of equality that makes the topic so popular. (A self-obvious sentence if ever there was one.)

There may be a Janus Moment occurring, not for the seemingly universal support of equality, but for the willingness to voice such support, and to voice dissatisfaction when it is felt to not be occurring.

Coke reacted (to either the desire for increased equality or at the rising voices) by turning a skybox for invited coke guests into a dormitory for coke customers.

Certainly the notion of equality won here, but don’t look too deep at the reality – a smaller percent of the total population will have access to the dormitory than Coke VIPs had originally. It is the “who” that matters, not the how many.

Will this type of equality “stick” or will it be a fad? Some changes in equality have proven foundational – while not completely the norm, domestic partner benefits can now be found at 57% of Fortune 500 companies.

What is certain is that the major contributing factor to the rise in equality is that everyone’s voice is now equally heard. Social media has replaced the complaint letter as the vehicle for those who are unhappy or displeased with how they are being treated – by their airline, government, company, or spouse.

With this rise in diversity of voice, we are deciding more and more how we feel from our friends, colleagues, and digital communities. We are empowered when we see and hear their stories. Add the “digitizing of the complaint letter” to a community of sympathetic listeners and detractors now have as resilient a voice as promoters, as direct a channel for distribution, and can come together with shared issues more quickly.

Experience and event caretakers have been using the promoter side of this powerful social media revolution and monitoring the detractor side to put out fires. It’s likely more will need to change.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

Questions to ask about your event:

  • Are reserved seats at your event still “acceptable”? Faster lines, VIP areas and access?
  • Is tiered pricing still considered equitable?
  • What might someone feel is inequitable and how can/should you address it?
  • Who is out but might be in?
  • How might displeasure be displayed? Do you have a way to facilitate such concerns?

What are you hearing about equality?