#PowerWomen: Content Bridges the Experience of Events and Ties Online and Offline, Sapna Navneeth
by Mugdha Gaonkar Industry Watch | March 16, 2021 | Interview
PowerWomen EVENTFAQS Media Sapna Navneeth The Word Jockey Content Studio
Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series, we talk to Sapna Navneeth, Partner and Content Director at The Word Jockey Content Studio, about her journey. A writer, planner, show director and dreamer, Sapna has a decade of experience in content, brand activation, planning and audio-visual production with companies like Encompass Events and media.
Here, she shares insights on her entry into the event industry, challenges faced, position of women in the industry, priorities and some advice for young women entering the events space.
HOW I CAME TO BE IN THE EVENT INDUSTRY
I got placed off campus when I was doing a communication course and I wasn't quite sure whether I wanted to do advertising, public relations or events. But I believed in the purpose and mission of events, which at the core is about connecting people experientially face to face - no other medium can offer anything even close to the real experience offered by events. That was the big selling point for me to start in events.
Some of the best-known destinations in the world are qualified by the events that they have built; so, events are not just a medium for people to actually physically engage and meet. The scope for events in India is massive, and the cultural diversity that we have attracted me to events. I'm glad I chose this field and spent more than a decade here.
At one point, we realized that there was no reading material for youngsters who are entering the field of events - very little for them to read and understand the history of the rich industry they were about to enter. That's when Deepak Choudhary and I decided to write a book on the event industry. ‘Staged’ - the book we wrote on the events industry - became the first comprehensive book to give a picture of where events started, the future trends in events, the careers people could explore. It's been a lovely journey through events to where we are today.
ON POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY
People are now talking about diversity and women in leadership and a lot of other aspects. The event industry in India has been ahead on that front, because it always had a lot of women at the forefront in every conceivable role possible. There's gender balance in events already for decades now. But certain aspects make it difficult for women to work sometimes - including travel, the work schedules, overnight hours, also safety – these concerns do come into play. EEMA, and all the leadership at the helm of events in India today, are taking steps to introduce policies and establish routes of communication where women can reach out and talk about issues which can be solved at an industry level.
Once that falls in place, it will continue to be a great place for women to explore their creativity. Certain roles now are still male-dominated. Vendor licensing, permissions, government licensing - these are the kinds of roles that have less women in the industry, where women can make real breakthroughs. The event industry is still streets ahead in the diversity game. We're already in a good place.
ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN ENTERING THE EVENT INDUSTRY
I didn't take any advice when I joined the industry and it worked out fine! But I think events need more diversity of all genders. The year 2020 has really shaken everyone up. I would urge creative women who strive to create experiences or to explore newer aspects of events to find niches in content and technology, while keeping creativity and human connections at the core, because that's what events are all about. EEMA is taking strides to ensure safety and growth of women in events. The progress is really remarkable. This is a great time for women to enter the industry.
TALKING POINTS AT WORD JOCKEY
The Word Jockey is a content agency. We deploy and create content for all mediums, but events has always been an extremely important part of the content that we create. Over the last one year, we have seen a shift in the way content is created for events. It's much more focused on hybrid events and more integrated. Earlier, content was really the pizzazz of events, so you created the launch aspects via content, entertainment and scripting. Now, it envelopes every aspect of the business, from the presentations, to the product showcase, to meeting rooms, to even virtual conferences, etc,. Content has gone from being on the peripheries of events, to being core to every aspect from the minute it starts to the minute it finishes. Because of that, a whole lot more control can be introduced into the way content is consumed and shared. That way, it's extended the life of events. That's one trend that's here to stay. Going forward, when hybrid settles in, we'll see a lot of content that bridges the experience and ties online and offline. It will be very integral to making a success of hybrid events. So that's the way we see content for events going forward, at least in 2021.
WHAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
The next frontier for content in the event space and therefore for us also, is to make content more interactive, more experiential as it has always been a part of the delivery. Now, content itself has to become an experience. That's a wonderfully challenging thing, with a lot of possibilities to explore. Again, taking content around safety to another level is going to be integral. Safety is no longer the fine print. Safety used to be an announcement at the beginning of an event, which people would hardly take note of. Now, safety has come to the forefront. It's the comfort that people feel while attending a particular event. The other thing that's going to underplay all content is a very heightened consciousness about Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) and sustainability. People want to make responsible choices. An event that ties in with their shared sense of responsibility is going to be a huge aspect of hybrid and other events, going forward. If events can embody the same values that their audiences uphold, that content has a huge role to play. So as a content agency, we really want to be able to partner clients in both activating and communicating these aspects of safety, ESG and sustainability and that's going to dominate the discussion in 2021.
A HISTORIC EVENT THAT I WOULD LIKE TO WITNESS LIVE
I'd like to go back to the first time a concert happened in India. It was a hippy music and poetry show that got inspired a little bit from the British era and Woodstock - about 4,000 people and the whole hippie culture. I would like to go back and see how that really felt on ground.
Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series, we talk to Sapna Navneeth of The Word Jockey Content Studio about her journey.