We had the great opportunity to meet Jennifer Crowe, Partnerships Associate with Forbes Live, at Collision back in May. Recently, we caught up with her and chatted about conferences, New Orleans, and building brand awareness. Find out the most unique brand experience she’s seen at a conference and get some advice on building your own conference series.
Before we begin, how did you like New Orleans and Collision?
New Orleans was beautiful – what a cool city! I loved getting to experience the jazz on Frenchman, sink my teeth into some beignets, and people watch in Jackson Square. It definitely deserves all the hype it gets! Collision was great too, awesome programming and an incredible group of people in attendance from all over the world.
In events like Collision, from your experience, what kind of brand partnerships do you find the most valuable and how would you recommend a local brand to stand out? What about a non-local brand?
I think that brands get the most ROI on their partnerships when their mission aligns with the core theme of the event. For instance, companies that value placing women in the c-suite would be a fantastic partner at a women’s event, while a tech start-up that is taking off rapidly and trying to make people aware of their company would be a good fit for a tech conference. The partnership makes sense if the focus and audience for an event gel with the demographic the brand is aiming to reach. I think the same goes for local and non-local brands. Just has to make sense!
Sponsors today are more focused on ROI than ever before. It’s all about the placement and value you have for the community you’re trying to reach. What’s your process in finding the right sponsors for your conferences and educating them on the value that they bring?
Research is key. You need to know the brands you’re pitching inside and out. What do they care about? What are their core principals? How does the market perceive them? You need to educate yourself when vetting brands to partner with, so that you can help them develop the most effective tactics that will make the most sense for your event. Everything should be equal parts creative and measurable for the best ROI.
Do you have any examples of the most creative ways brands have used their sponsorships at your conferences to build awareness?
A sponsor constructed a cranberry bog in the middle of City Hall Plaza in Boston at our Under 30 Summit. An actual cranberry bog. Attendees were invited to put on waders and hop in! So unbelievably cool. Talk about Instagram heaven! We’ve had brands come up with really creative ways to engage consumers in physically interacting with their product, and it goes a long way.
Your team is known to do some amazing things with the programming of the events. For example, the Under 30 Summit was known to include not only networking/conference talks, but also a food and music event included. Do y’all evolve your events based on your audience’s need or do you predict what the audience wants?
Thanks! I truly work with the best team in the world. We all genuinely love coming to work every day and crafting these conferences and events. We are detail obsessed, natural-born planners and I think part of what makes our events so great is that they are driven so heavily by how passionate the Forbes team is. At Forbes, we often refer to our brand as a “100-year-old start-up” – it’s our 100th anniversary this year! And the same, I think, is true for our events. We stay authentic to our overall themes year after year, but we are constantly creating new and exciting experiences. Attendees can count on us to be new and fresh, but trust us to deliver the same, great quality level of programming year after year.
Could you walk us through how your team plans a conference from beginning to end? We’re curious to hear how you always find the right stories to turn to life.
There really isn’t a beginning or an end. For us, we’re constantly exercising our think tanks. We stay hungry for what’s next. It’s our obligation to tell stories. To seek out the doers and the doing. To create a platform where people can give voice to topics they care about.
How do you choose the right cities and communities to host these conferences?
Different cities boast different ideas. Some have a strong culture and scene, while others are known to be a finance hub. We are always thoughtful in our approach to landing on a host city. We’re particular and picky – yet open-minded and adventurous. We try to pick locations that make sense for the theme of the event.
For those that want to jump into building their own conference for their brand or for a cause, what are the critical questions they must answer to sponsors?
You’ve got to know your stuff. You’ve got to illustrate the worth of your event. But even more so than that, let them see your passion. Passion will bring you places. If you truly believe in what you do, beautiful and unique partnerships will blossom.
We had a great time meeting Jennifer, and we can’t wait to see what her and the Forbes Live team builds for Under 30 Summit this October.
Get to know Jennifer Crowe
Jennifer Crowe is a Partnership Strategist who works with brands to connect their mission with audiences around the world. With proven knowledge of what drives conversation, Jennifer is a master of elevating campaigns and thought leadership to the most impactful level. She has landed multiple media segments – ask her about her favorite, the spot she got the Special Olympics on FOX & Friends – and brought many a brand stories to life, aligning powerful ideas with the people who resonate with them. Coupled with her marketing moves, she’s got an eye for sales and revenue generation.
Jennifer currently works on Sponsorships at Forbes, specifically on the Live (conferences + events) division: leveraging unique access to the world’s most influential leaders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and artists—uniting these global forces to harness their collective knowledge, address today’s critical issues and discover innovative solutions.
Prior to Forbes, she worked at various public relations firms and media companies. In her free time – she loves getting lost in a book over a cup of coffee, preferably whilst exploring a place she’s never been. Residing in New York, London is her favorite city in the world.
Jennifer holds a BA in Public Relations and Journalism from Seton Hall University. Go Pirates!