Julian Agostini, MD at Mash Media, suggests that to be taken more seriously by both media and government, the component parts of the events sector should reconsider how they identify

What’s in a name? Or rather, what name are you called when you immediately know that the situation is serious?

It won’t surprise those who know me well to hear that I’ve been called many things, and nearly always justifiably. However, bizarrely, it’s my own name being used that most sharpens my senses.  To my mother, I’ve always been Jules, which can get upgraded to darling on occasions, so when it reverts to Julian, there’s trouble in the air.

I’m sure everybody’s name changes when a family member or partner wants to ensure that whatever they are about to say, is taken extremely seriously. You know what I’m talking about.

As amusing as that is, could it be that we have a name problem with our industry which is no laughing matter?

The ‘events industry’ is referenced by all of us from within, and it perfectly describes what we are but what does that sound like to the outside world? Recently we’ve been clamouring for recognition and also offering help to the government, rightly stating that we are best placed to organise and roll out the mass vaccination, but are we taken seriously?

What would the public’s reaction be to the government announcing that the events industry is going to build the Nightingales (even though we did, mainly); or that the events industry is running the vaccination programme?

It hurts enormously to ask this, but could it be that our name undermines us; do we lack gravitas?  This has been troubling me for a while, especially as Mash Media was the prime mover in bringing everyone together for the One Industry One Voice movement and campaign at the outset. There has so much great work done under this banner but our perception, as soon as the word ‘event’ is mentioned, feels trivial, in these times at least. Should each component part rename itself to be recognised for the serious businesses that we are.

Even a subtle change in name can adjust how something is perceived.

For example, a game of football and a football match are arguably the same thing, but one is immediately perceived as far more serious than the other.

Exhibitions have always struggled to be understood by the lay man; is it time to follow the US (that was difficult to write) and become trade shows or trade fairs?

Business meetings feel as though they have significance, conferences even more so, but congresses sound powerful and extremely important.

You get the idea.

The Times once referred to the sale of Mack Brooks for £200m as a company that ran corporate jamborees. I’ve quoted this before but that’s how we’re viewed.

We are all warmed and comforted by terms of endearment but we are not fluffy and perhaps it’s time to stamp a different calling card on the media and government to show them that we mean business.