To the Point

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What makes stories rise to the top?

When it comes to social media — or traditional media, for that matter — it’s fascinating to see what sticks.

Some campaigns and stories spread like wildfire, filling every Twitter feed and newscast, while others — just as meaningful — fade away. A few things that have gotten significant exposure recently have me thinking.

Icy Hot

Everyone from A-list celebrities and politicians to local mayors and school principals has taken the ice-bucket challenge, dumping ice-cold water on their head or donating money to ALS, with many opting to do both. The ALS Association’s viral campaign has raised $100 million as of this writing, which is especially amazing since the association raised only $2.6 million during the same period last year. But what is perhaps equally important is the awareness that has been raised in the process — both for Lou Gehrig’s Disease and for the association charged with raising money for its cure.

I don’t think the inevitable copycat challenges that will follow are going to make the same splash, but this sure provides some food for thought on how a grassroots campaign can take off. Certainly, the celebrity element, the timing, the ease of spreading video challenges via Facebook, and nominating others to participate all played an important role in its success.


The rumor​ (and yes, it proved to be untrue) that President Obama would attend this year’s Emmys took off like crazy, proving once again how fast word can travel on social media, even if it’s just a rumor or someone’s personal opinion. Hopefully, your organization has a system in place for actively monitoring and managing social media during your meetings — and throughout the year — so you can manage the message and quickly address any rumors or negativity. And while starting a rumor that the president will attend your event will certainly create a buzz, I don’t recommend it!

Tapping Into Our Emotions

One of my favorite stories from late summer was the ascent of Chicago’s Jackie Robinson West to the title of Little League National Champions. Chicagoans and others around the country rallied around this team of dedicated and fun-loving 11- and 12-year-olds from Chicago’s inner city. In case you missed it, the final championship games posted higher ESPN ratings than any Major League Baseball game this year. These weren’t big-bucks sports professionals going through the motions, but a bunch of fresh-faced kids playing against the odds in a game they love. The way that everyone latched on to this team serves as a good reminder that everyone loves a feel-good story.

And it begs the question: What feel-good or human-interest stories can we tell about our own events?

Meetings Mean Business

Have you downloaded the Meetings Mean Business app (available via the Apple Store or Google Play)? No matter where you are, this handy app serves up the latest news and important talking points about the meetings industry’s pivotal role in creating jobs, generating economic value, and driving business success. The Meetings Mean Business advocacy campaign was relaunched earlier this year at PCMA’s Convening Leaders and now enjoys support across the entire meetings and events industry. Help spread the word about our industry’s broad-based impact, and look for more initiatives from PCMA’s Advocacy Task Force in 2015.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.