How to humanise your online events

For many of you, business as usual has become business as UNusual. For events and communications professionals, the current crisis has meant an inevitable shift to online events, digital comms and virtual engagement. But where do you start? Right here. Check out our latest white paper: How to Humanise your Online Events: a step-by-step guide to creating content-rich, virtual communications.

Click here to view the full white paper.

An Easter message from Brands at Work

It’s been a tough few weeks and it’s far from over. But with the sun no longer being a stranger, the evenings getting lighter and the chicks cheeping we hope you’re all managing to keep focussed on the day this is all over. When this is behind us let’s make sure we all do the things we’ve missed so much (socially distancing measures allowing!). From all of us at Brands at Work we wish you a very happy and peaceful long weekend.

19 creative ways to engage your audiences during COVID-19

For many of us, ‘business as usual’ has become ‘business as unusual’ recently, in light of the Coronavirus.

COVID-19 is having a significant effect on the meetings and events industry, even though most authorities (including the WHO) are saying there is currently no need to cancel face-to-face gatherings.

But, what if your event has already been cancelled? What if your company has enforced a travel ban, and you’re stuck at home and banished from the office? Keeping your people close is now more important than ever so how do you continue to deliver compelling communications and purposeful content to encourage conversation and collaboration in your people communities?

There’s more to life than webcasts

Look, no offence to webcasts, but they tend to turn people off. Why? Because they’re mostly one-way. Instead, why not transform your virtual meetings into live TV broadcasts, task your people with crowdsourcing your content and really make the most of your virtual conference platforms? The key is to dial up your comms to create a two-way digital dialogue.

Bring it home

Just because your people are at home doesn’t mean they can’t do things they would normally do at the office. From wellbeing programmes to learning sessions and knowledge shares, you can help your people to stay healthy, interact with others and to flex their intellectual muscles by sending a simple series of support tools – that you might even already have!

Intelligent imagination and interactivity

If your face-to-face event has been cancelled, how much of the content could you repurpose for online? Most meeting platforms allow for virtual collaboration such as video calling, screen sharing and even digital whiteboards. From inviting keynote speakers to present online, to running interactive workshops supported by collaboration apps such as sli:do, you can still make an impact on your people, with some intelligent imagination and interactivity.

When business is unusual, try unusual tactics

Working at home can be lonely – most remote workers will miss the daily contact and conversations with their colleagues. Finding ways to surprise them with a fresh piece of learning content, some creative comms around your strategy or even posting printed event materials and toolkits to their home can really raise engagement levels and bring people together. Be brave and try something new!

Want more detail?

Even though we still live for live events, we’ve created a document: 19 creative ways to engage during COVID-19’. It’s packed full of clever ways to engage your people, aside from face-to-face events.

Click here to read the full document

Blueprint into action: Are you really ready to launch your strategy?


Our own Karen Kadin was recently asked to write for Simply Communicate about the importance of purpose and strategy for any organisation, but equally importantly, how you then bring it to life so that it becomes something that everyone in the business can understand, relate to, put into action and ultimately create success from.

Click below to see the full article.

Blueprint into action: Are you really ready to launch your strategy?

The impact of being an A-Lister by Dan Broadberry

How did you feel when you became an A-lister?

Flattered to have been put forward at all! I was pretty surprised to get the email. Then a bit overwhelmed; when it is announced, LinkedIn goes wild with congratulations and well wishers. Suddenly you become very popular – suppliers want to send you things and sell to you, and a few cheeky recruiters contacted the office!

The best thing about getting on the list is spending time with some of the other A-listers, particularly on the fam trip. It is great being part of the group, and to meet and bond with a really varied group of individuals with something special in common; they are the people who will be improving our industry, the ones who will be making the changes in the years to come.


What’s the most important thing that you have learned in your events career so far / do you have a golden nugget of advice for anyone starting out in the industry.

My advice is to expect change; the whole reason that many businesses exist is for change and businesses depend on change to grow. Without change everything would become stagnant so you need to be able to adapt. The goalposts keep changing, and that’s what makes this industry so creative and interesting. I think that flexibility is and will continue to be a key soft skill, sought after by potential employers – you will be asked to demonstrate how adaptable you are and asked how good you are at reacting to change. We are a service industry and we have to be responsive to what our clients are going through. The pace of change is so rapid that it’s becoming increasingly hard to predict what’s coming which makes it even harder to plan effectively so being able to act quickly when things change is critical.

It’s also our job to challenge, to not be ‘yes people’ but to question and explore what’s being briefed and importantly why. We need to use our experience and knowledge to lead and support our clients, not to be led; to offer alternative perspectives they may not have considered and help them with their ‘unknown unknowns’. Event professionals shouldn’t just be considered an extension of resource to complete tasks but highly knowledgeable, skilled and experienced consultants in a complex and nuanced form of communication.


What’s your advice for anyone becoming an A-lister?

Network as much as you can. When I first met the other A-listers at the party, I didn’t network as much as I should have done. I was quite nervous of the attention; I think most of us are in the industry because we are ‘behind the scenes’ type of people. If you are nervous, get there early because you don’t want to be the last person to arrive when everyone is already paired up or in groups. You then just need five seconds of real courage to walk up to someone and introduce yourself, maybe have a go to question or conversation topic in mind. Also try to have an exit strategy so you aren’t stuck in one conversation all night. The people may be lovely, but you are there to network, so once you’ve had a bit of a chat and possibly exchanged contact details, do summon that courage again to say “Hey, shall we move on to network with some other people?” The person you are with was probably thinking the same, so will thank you for it!


What did you do in the year before you became an A-lister/ what did you do/work on that got you nominated?

If I’m honest I can’t think of one defining moment that could have encouraged Brands at Work to nominate me. I didn’t think I could be put forward for something like this. I am a hard worker, but everybody at Brands at Work is, so I didn’t feel that what I was doing personally was exceptional. I certainly didn’t think it could translate to industry recognition. As a producer, I’m used to putting the attention on to other people, I wasn’t expecting attention to come my way. I suppose there are two events that I do remember being particularly hard work and may have got my efforts noticed more than usual; I helped to create an event with an ambitious creative vision in the Bomb Factory in Dallas Texas – for over 2000 delegates – in about three weeks! That took some doing from several thousand miles away and only a few hours of the working day overlapping. And the other occasion, a catastrophic freak storm ruined our ‘night under the stars’ gala awards evening for about 800 people. Our transparent roofed marquee was completely flooded. From linen to lights, nothing was recoverable. I worked with the hotel, suppliers and of course my clients to find a new venue, reimagine and re-supply everything involved in creating the experience, and make it fit in the space available. At 11:00 we had nothing; no equipment, no plan and no event; by 19:00 guests were walking into an awards ceremony with the tables set, an ‘under the stars’ effect on the ceiling created with moving lights, a beautifully glitzy stage and a sound checked band. I slept well that night!


How has being an A-lister impacted on you/ your career?

I definitely think that it has helped me become more confident, it kind of reassures you that what you’re doing is the correct thing. I think that confidence usually comes from experience; it’s a longer burn, over the years you become more confident and learn when to trust your instincts; getting on the A-list kind of short circuits that process a bit and provides an instant boost firming up the foundations you’ve been developing.

Show the love. What can Valentine’s Day teach us about employee engagement?

Like it or loathe it, the official day of romance is upon us. Whether you think it’s a cute custom or a commercial con, it’s the one time of year where we’re encouraged (granted, mostly by restauranteurs, florists and chocolatiers) to show our loved ones, well, some love. But what have cupid and co got to do with recognising and rewarding your employees? Call us crazy (in love), but when it comes to sparking up the passion of your people, there are some very simple gestures that can go a long way in building engagement. And most of them won’t cost you a penny.

Free love

No, not the hippy kind. We all know that the best things in life are free. When you whisper those three little words to your loved ones it costs you nothing, but in the right moment it means so much. The same applies to your people. A simple, sincere “thank you” said with a smile, or a personal shout-out in a team meeting for a job well done, can mean everything. And the more specific the better; praising someone for going ‘the extra mile’ is great but explaining exactly how they did it in front of their peers will make it extra special (and it will probably inspire others too). These ‘little big things’ can make your people feel really loved. And they’re free.

Feeling heard

We’ve probably all been in an argument with a loved one and been accused of not listening, and the chances are, we’ve also felt like we weren’t being heard at some point too! Having feedback forums like townhalls, open mic sessions and pulse surveys are excellent ways to gauge how your people are feeling – and to show that you’re listening. But only when you do something about that feedback will your people feel truly heard. Some say that you can’t learn to truly love until you can learn to truly listen.

Hearts and minds

Look, nobody in their right mind is going to turn down a financial bonus. But should rewards and recognition be about hearts, as well as minds? Expensive flowers and a posh dinner might stick in the mind, but something more meaningful that comes from the heart, can be worth much more. A handwritten thank you card (heart) is worth more than an email (mind). Giving someone the day off on their birthday (heart) is worth more than a cake and some candles (mind). Just as there’s more to love than champagne and roses, there’s more to rewards than a bonus. We all know the phrase ‘hearts and minds’, but there’s a reason why ‘hearts’ comes first.

The language of love

If you’ve never read the Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, then do yourself a favour. You’ll discover that everyone in the world has one – and once you’ve learned your partner’s – you’ll be able to love them in the way that they want to be loved. Now apply this principle to your people: How do they want to be recognised and rewarded, on an individual level? What do they like doing when they’re not at work? Could you reward them with more flexible hours? Concert or sports tickets? If they live for their Tuesday night yoga class, how can you make sure they always get there? Are they motivated by gifts? Kind gestures? Or perhaps compliments and praise? Just as it’s important to know your partner’s Valentine’s preferences, knowing what makes your people tick is the key to rewarding them.

Meaningful moments

We’re willing to wager that one of the most common conversations at those romantic tables-for-two this week will be: “Do you remember our first date?”. In our romantic relationships, we remember those important moments; where we first met, what first attracted us to each other, our wonderful wedding day. Why? Because those memories are filled with meaning for us. Your company’s purpose, mission and values are a great way to contextualise your rewards. If you can show your people how their work has benefited the business or how well it has aligned with your company’s values, then you’ll create real meaning. And they’re more likely to remember it.

Love is all around

One of the big reasons that haters love to hate Valentine’s Day is because (they say) we should be showing our love not just on one day, but every day. This might be true, but there’s nothing wrong with a bit of extra romance, right? Valentine’s Day can reenergise, realign, reaffirm and even rekindle a relationship. It’s a one-off event, but it shouldn’t end at midnight on 14th Feb; it should be the beginning of a year-long wave of love! Recognising your people is no different. Live events and experiences such as conferences, meetings and awards ceremonies are great ways to spark something, but once the event is over, you should keep the fun (and the love!) going throughout the year. Applying this kind of ‘campaign thinking’ to your employee engagement programmes is a bit like your romantic relationships. It might take a bit of time and a bit of work, but in the end, the rewards will be worth it. For you and for them.

Creating Innovative Events in the Healthcare Sector

With the healthcare sector contributing a major proportion of the event industry’s annual revenue, Conference News recently highlighted the unique skills, experience and understanding that event producers must demonstrate if they want to work successfully with this highly regulated industry. Within the article our own Karen Kadin provided her own insights into how the healthcare industry has innovatively transformed itself over recent years, and how Brands at Work has been able to work with our clients in this sector to create amazing, personalised experiences for their audiences.


Read the full article here;

Brands at Work appoints Creative Director to Leadership Team

Live communications agency, Brands at Work has appointed Simon Boniface as creative director in a strategically led move to expand the agency’s creative offering to meet the evolving needs of their clients.


Karen Kadin, managing partner, Brands at Work (BaW) said: “Our agency is growing across geographies and industries, and so too are the scale and complexity of the creative briefs that we are answering. Simon is a creatively led strategist with an extensive design background. Whilst he is wildly imaginative, his feet are firmly planted on the ground, so his ideas work in the real world!  Simon brings wide experience from across the creative industry including PR, experiential, retail & advertising which will enable us to further grow the agency’s creative capabilities. Whilst I’ll still be passionately involved in our creative direction, Simon’s appointment will create more space to focus on the agency’s continued growth and the development of our talent. We are an egoless leadership team, and so it was important to find someone who not only has the creative chops but was the right cultural fit for us too.”


Simon Boniface, creative director, says: “I was attracted to Brands at Work’s ethos of putting ideas into action. I saw a close knit and agile team, obsessed with solving their client’s problems through creativity. BaW is an agency where ideas can come from anywhere and everyone; it’s simply all about the clients and the work we create together. I take an analytical and strategic approach to creativity, and I believe that killer insights should lead to smart ideas and all smart ideas should lead to a beautiful execution. I’m looking forward to bringing my bag of multi-disciplinary skills to BaW’s clients and also in helping to expand their client base into the sectors where I have experience.”


Simon brings over 20 years creative experience to the agency with the last five spent in the events industry as creative director at Freeman. His work has spanned many sectors including FMCG, fashion, retail, technology, pharmaceutical and luxury brands.