Takeaways from Connect Diversity 2018

By Alina Radchuk, February 19, 2018

Connect Diversity in Portland, Oregon, took a page from Maya Angelou, who once said that there is beauty and strength in diversity. Our annual conference showcased the many meanings of diversity as it relates to the events industry. Here are some our key takeaways.

Diversity is natural.  

Tamara Kennedy-Hill MBA, CMP,  vice president of diversity and community relations at Travel Portland led a panel on inclusion and diversity in the meetings world. Panelist Tory Campbell, Entrepreneurship & Community Economic Development Manager at Prosper Portland, shared his thought-provoking conclusion that diversity by nature is natural. Therefore, an environment with no diversity may be a result of intention and is deficient. And “diversity,” all agreed, includes a wide sphere of categories, such as age and demographics, not just race.

It’s time to diversify your marketing plan.

During a breakout session, Austin Johnston executive director of AKJohnston asked a packed room, “How many of you usually click away or scroll past advertisements on the web?” Almost every hand went up. He challenged everyone to think differently about marketing events, brands or products because inundating your target audience with ads just isn’t working anymore.

Instead,  Johnston says the energy should be devoted to creating interactive experiences, which will reap rewards far greater than what it costs you. For example, Johnston referenced an interactive station  set up in the middle of a college campus as a campaign for HBO. This station had fun activities like dressing puppies up in “Game of Thrones” costumes and featured the actual throne used in the show.  Every surface of the station was eye-catching and attention grabbing.  There was no need to ask participants to take pictures for their social media sites and spread the word to their friends. It happened naturally.

A note on how to harmonize differences.

Darrell Hammond, founder of Higher Ground Consulting, provided some tips and insights on how to handle people with whom you just can’t seem to agree. At one point, he referred to the “cereal box” method. He explained: “Imagine that there’s a cereal box between you and them and then consider that they may be seeing something on the other side that you can’t see,” he said. At the end, he noted that people may push your buttons, but you alone control how you respond.

Everyone wins.

What better way to spice up a luncheon than with some locally brewed whisky? The Makers’ Luncheon spotlighted several diverse entrepreneurs shaking things up in Portland. One such business owner is Chaunci King, who is making her mark in the white, male-dominated world of alcohol. Her company, Royalty Spirit, along with other notable businesses like Deadstock Coffee, Soap Box Theory and Orox Leather Co., gave away samples and mingled with Diversity attendees during the luncheon. James Jessie, Travel Portland’s vice president of convention sales, emphasizes that giving local and diverse business owners center stage at your event is a win-win for all.

We’d love to hear from you! Share below what you took from the event.

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