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Advocacy: A Fundamental Aspect for the Exhibitions and Events Industry

As originally seen in Trade Show Executive, Jan 2015

2015 marks a new and exciting year at IAEE as we march down our path and closely follow our strategic plan consisting of two distinct pillars – advocacy and education. Let me focus on advocacy for this issue.

IAEE, along with key industry organizations CEIR, EDPA, ESCA, IAVM, SISO and the US Travel Association, began the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign in 2011 to promote the value of face to face as the primary medium for business growth. Since the initiative began, Exhibitions Mean Business has garnered exposure to more than 285 million people around the world with a publicity value of close to $36 million. That’s not a bad payout for a $940,000 investment from 82 donors! The first phase of the campaign also saw 1,600 stories on online and broadcast news sites and 100 stories in U.S. and international print media.

Last June, the Campaign embarked upon the first Exhibitions Day to allow exhibitions and events stakeholders to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to better communicate the various local and macro-economic impact and strength of the exhibitions and events industry to our nation’s GDP.

In 2014 alone, the exhibitions and events industry contributed more than $69 billion directly to the US GDP.

The goal for Exhibitions Day was to raise awareness of the exhibitions and events industry among federal legislators and to use this opportunity for direct engagement with members of Congress and their staff, helping to foster a greater understanding of our industry and the impact key policy issues have on the constituents in their states and districts.

One attendee from the event succinctly summed up the importance of the day, with the following feedback. “I found the briefing on the issues and how they influenced the growth of our events and the industry at large to be eye-opening. I was eager to share that with our congressional representatives to raise their awareness of our industry as a significant driver of jobs and GDP. I was both gratified and horrified at the same time to see how surprised they were to hear how much significance the meetings and exhibitions industry has in the U.S. economy. Seeing that reaction first-hand makes me determined to continue bringing this message to our elected officials so that we are top-of-mind when they are faced with decisions that impact the 1.8 million people working in the industry.”

As we head into 2015, the campaign has already raised more than $200,000 dollars from 25 donors with the goal of raising $1.2 million to fund Exhibitions Mean Business through 2018. The 2015-2018 campaign is comprised of 5 pillars: advocate – own the role of industry champion with government and other sectors; educate – inform and educate to audiences that shape tomorrow’s workforce; globalize – build visibility around the world; diversify – be present in all media formats when the industry needs a voice; and digitalize – engage audiences across all platforms.

With the success of the last year’s Exhibitions Day, the 2015 Exhibitions Day has been secured for 9 June in Washington D.C. Once again, IAEE along with major stakeholders from the exhibitions and events industry will march the Hill to meet with state representatives to communicate the immense value that this industry brings to the US economy. The often used phrase, “it takes a village,” has never been more appropriate as we embark upon this next phase of the Campaign.

I leave you with words from our 2015 chairperson Megan Tanel, “…if we expect change we must do something to affect change.”

David DuBois, CMP, CAE, FASAE, CTA
President and CEO

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