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TickTockTech: How to Create a Leading Event in an AI and Machine Learning Filled Landscape

July 24, 2023
By Elizabeth Hayes

In an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning (ML) filled world, competition is fierce. The will to ethically utilize the problem-solving, efficiency-boosting and humanlike tech has found its way to the forefront of business strategies globally and the race to successfully integrate it to optimize operations is on.

We’re now seeing these intelligent machines emerge with immense impact on our daily lives. Its limitless potential and accessibility is empowering just about anyone to give the tech a go. Experts have high expectations for AI, with digital advances believed to range from personalized medical care to environmental sustainability by 2035 (PEW Research). These systems also come with risk and worry of what they could lead to — from misinformation to unemployment.

There’s plenty to unpack when it comes to AI and ML — the good, the bad and the ugly — and industry conferences and events are becoming a hub to talk tech. It’s a crowded landscape, and every AI and ML event is trying to stand out. But as you try to navigate the dense environment, there are a few key findings that can help make for an impactful event.

Plan for the Specific Needs of In-person and Virtual Media Attendees

The pandemic pushed us into a hybrid event model where a virtual component is now the expectation, no longer the exception. And though virtual events open the door to borderless media attendance, content must be engaging and thought provoking, especially when seemingly everyone is trying to talk about AI. We need to keep media tuned into the live stream. Remember: it’s easy to click to another browser and start multitasking. We want to prevent that from happening.

But lest we forget, in person events are back, and while it’s not as easy to walk out of an exhibit hall mid presentation as it is to exit a livestream, media have busy and ever-changing schedules. We want to remain on their calendars and need dynamic, immersive experiences to draw in their RSVPs. 

Through a strategic approach, events can be mutually beneficial for both reporters — whether onsite or from the comfort of their home office — and for your brand. So, when you’re in the early stages of planning, be sure to ask yourself a few key questions that can help shape that strategy: Is this session best served as a livestream or can I make it more engaging through an in-person session? Are there any partnerships that can be leveraged to enhance discussion or reach an expanded audience? What is the key differentiator of my AI event from others, and am I clearly articulating that in external communications?

Create a Unique Angle, Specific to Your Audience

We know the AI and ML event landscape is packed, and it’s becoming increasingly challenging to make a lasting impression. In fact, since November 2022, 98% of tech-centric events shifted their focus to AI and ML regardless of it being part of their strategy prior. But as events look to include AI as a unique driving factor in its core narrative, it ends up having the opposite affect — it eliminates differentiation.

So, what’s the solve? Organizations need to be strategic in their event approach and carve out space in an oversaturated AI environment. Recognizing that not all AI is created equal is key and making a point to understand your audience and shift the broader AI conversation to a targeted, niche dialog can make a big impact.

Develop Your Post-event Strategy Early

Pre-event traction is a given, post-event relevance is not. A post-event strategy is critical to maintain your audience once the hype dwindles and the event wraps. To bring some longevity to your event, know what stories to tell and where to tell them. To achieve this, map your narrative and internal stories to how the topic is being covered in the news, along with your target audience’s news consumption habits. With this data at hand, you can tell high-impact stories that not only break through to your audience but move them to action.

Focus on High-level Content and Engagement Over Celebrities

Despite what you’ve seen, A-list stars don’t drive event attendance or talkability. Their keynote or live performance won’t convince experts to register. The truth is, audience-centric content, thought-provoking conversations and networking opportunities with like-minded professionals will. These attendees are eager to collaborate and hear unique perspectives on various AI topics; and they were likely interested before you announced your headlining celebrity. Don’t use up your budget on a high-profile guest.

So, instead of an award-winning actor, bring in subject matter experts who will encourage ideas and innovation, or industry thought leaders who will initiate discussions around groundbreaking AI advances. If agenda content and the experience is tailored to your target audience, attendance will follow suit.

Navigating an inflating AI and ML event landscape will continue to be an uphill battle, so long as innovations continue and use-case breakthroughs emerge. There’s room for everyone and every AI event to have a seat at the table if you plan accordingly, carve out space in an inundated AI event environment, take a driven approach to reaching the right audience and bring in relevant thought leaders to encourage engaging conversations.