Value of Industry Events: Don't Discount the Human Factor

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More and more, it seems that major industry events are prompting discussions and debates as to whether they are "worth it" in terms of travel expense and time spent out of the office.  Count me among those who wondered whether these junkets were really just over-the-top extravagances that are hard to justify.  

I use the past-tense "wondered" because I no longer have any such reservations -- not since I attended the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in June.  I came to realize that after peeling away all the glitz, these events are worth it due to all of the people who make them so special. 

Being the young age of 24, two years into my career, I naturally was excited for the extravagance of the event.  The beaches, the yachts, the parties and the people; I was eager, intrigued and most of all thrilled to be a part of this industry-changing week.  I prepared myself as much as I could -- perused the daily speaker schedule, RSVP'd to as many panels as I could, and slept, as I knew sleep would become a luxury that week. Although I prepared myself to the best of my ability, nothing I could have done would have readied me enough for my experience.

I met men and women who not only excel in their respected fields but are people who I look up to and one day hope to become.  I exchanged contact information with CEOs and met a young man who founded his now thriving company by the time he was a mere 15 years old.  Being a part of the Young Lion's Academy, I was surrounded by men and women under the age of 30 from all walks of life, eager to absorb as much knowledge as they possibly could.  All of these people inspired me.

I had the opportunity to see speakers from all parts of the industry.  I was particularly enthralled by Sir Ian Murray McKellen, Sheryl Sandberg, Maurice Levy and Beau Lotto.  It is impossible to listen to these accomplished executives and not come away feeling energized, inspired and excited to be in an industry that produces such talent.

My biggest Cannes takeaway was that despite the overwhelming chatter around AI, data and the future, people are the center of everything we do in this business.  Whether it be our colleagues that we directly work with, influencing our day-to-day, or our consumers, it's people who keep us grounded in the work that we do.

I found Cannes to be a great extension of DPAA's Video Everywhere Summit, the event that made it possible for me to go to France in the first place.  (I won a random drawing sponsored by DPAA and AMI.  AMI sponsored the Cannes prize.)

At Cannes, it was exciting to hear what brands are planning on exploring with digital, utilizing AI, data and insights to find new and creative ways to reach consumers.  Although TV still holds the lion's share of media budgets, it is exciting to see the tremendous shift to digital using actionable data and insights.  Being in Cannes, I was able to witness first-hand how my very own company, Adobe, is changing the digital landscape for automated, data-driven planning and buying across TV and digital.  Being surrounded by these industry leaders not only at Cannes, but in my every day, has made me eager for what the future has in store.

At the end of the day, it is the people who make the difference at an event like Cannes.  It is important to both realize and recognize that although there will always be the parties and the yachts, we are distinguishing and celebrating the work, the people and the evolution of our ever-changing industry.

Halle Donaldson is a Media Strategist at Adobe.  She attended the Young Lions Academy at the 2017 Cannes International Festival of Creativity as the winner of a drawing at DPAA's 2016 Video Everywhere Summit.  She is pictured at top center with Mike Maas, CEO, AMI Entertainment, left, and DPAA President and CEO Barry Frey, right.)

This article was originally published at MediaVillage - September 15, 2017.

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