Shana Thomas is Senior Manager of Conference and Event Marketing at PRSM.
Welcome to the fourth issue of Taking Flight, a newsletter of inspiration and insights from Feathr customers who have earned their wings as association and event industry leaders. Featured in this issue is Shana Thomas, Senior Manager of Conference and Event Marketing at PRSM, a.k.a. a self-proclaimed Eventology Pro.
Shana has extensive experience with work history in retail, healthcare, fashion, travel, construction, and arts/entertainment. Before her career at PRSM, she co-owned/founded a triple division, multi-location retail boutique, art gallery and event design studio. She says running her company taught her customer service, e-commerce, point of sale design, marketing, purchasing, inventory control, and facilities management. In other words, it prepared her for anything. After six successful years, she chose to shift her career focus back into marketing, events and technology. About the move, Shana says, "The result was incredible. I became a better overall professional because not only did I understand other’s worlds, I knew better how to support, respect and encourage them within projects."
In this issue of Taking Flight, Shana talks technology, versatility, inspiration, and...Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?? Read on for her unique insights into the event world.
Describe a day at your job.
It is different every day! That is one of the reasons I love it. I can be involved with scheduling and creative development for our TV episodes for conferences, dive into analytics to determine where our marketing needs to go next, or have a conference call about live streaming events. I have a rare brain that is truly split 50/50 creative to analytical. I have no idea how I got it, but I love it! It may have something to do with the fact my sister and I kept our Atari 2600 and played video games on my big screen TV up until… okay, it’s still working and plugged in. Who doesn’t love pixelated Frogger or Pitfall?
What acquisition strategies are currently working best for you?
I was not paid to say this, but honestly Feathr has had a tremendous impact on our reach to current and new audiences, along with being that constant reminder to register or finish registrations. Now that we are getting into landing pages, influencer/referral campaigns… the sky is the limit and with every event I geek out with our data points.
What would you change about your industry if you could wave a magic wand?
Technology adoption and learning curve at faster speeds. I have to pace myself with where the attendee can be. That can be very challenging when you are working on event experiences and marketing for multi-generations. You’d be surprised how many Baby Boomers are more cutting edge sometimes!
I thankfully have my core group of cutting edge designers, programmers and idea generators that I can grab dinner with that keeps me inspired. I would not be the professional I am today without that network and mentors who have poured their knowledge into me.
If you had every attendee, exhibitor, and vendor's attention for one minute, what would you say to them?
Forget the elevator speeches! Inspire! Early in my career I worked with an international organization in Washington, D.C. that sent me all over the country to speak to college students and institutional collegiate professionals about bridging the gaps between universities and students. When they asked me to do this, I had no idea that the audiences would be in the thousands in some venues. My first speaking engagement, I had my cards written out as they taught us in public relations. As I walked onto the stage, I tossed them in the trash and listened to my gut say, “Go for it!” In turns out that the passion I had for my message was all I needed.
The pre-rehearsed elevator speeches are okay, but I will connect with someone else who is passionate about what they are talking about and respond to me, my facial reactions, where I seem interested. Take a pause, make it personal and tell a story about how your service impacted a customer in a meaningful way. All your elevator points will get covered, but in a way that makes an impression on the heart and mind.
What has been your favorite moment working in events?
Alright stop. Collaborate and listen. Vanilla Ice came into our event and rocked it! We pulled out all stops and wanted to surprise our attendees with someone they would never expect! Working with “Mr. Ice” was awesome! I heard a few attendees say, “Man… I wish that we could see Vanilla Ice play this”, then they realized it was him! They ran to the stage! Everyone from young professionals to our established members were having the time of their lives. He even brought out the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I got chills, because as a kid, Leonardo was my favorite! Any moment where an attendee is dancing their socks off, smiling from an education session that rocked their world, met a new connection that will bring them new business… I turn sappy and inside feel honored to be a part of their world and the events and marketing industry.
“They” keep saying live events are taking a downturn, but my response to that is we can’t let that happen. It’s the truest sense of community. I’m all for being the techie geek I am… but nothing replaces eye contact, handshakes and high fives.
Feathr would like to thank Shana for her time and insight. If you, dear reader, found her enthusiasm as infectious as we did, you find her on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/shanathomas/ and on Twitter @EventologyPro (Told ya).