Culture is the backbone propping up everything we do in event marketing. Each year we are tasked with creating new, exciting and unique events for our clients that take them forward, but we can’t do that without understanding culture, both in and outside the industry. It’s our jobs to know what’s on its way, what’s trending and what’s on its way out the door. If we don’t, we can’t deliver the best experiences to keep things fresh and exciting for our clients. So if you agree with me this is true, why don’t agencies have a designated team member whose job is to monitor this always-evolving world in which we work? creativity

Enter: The Chief Culture Officer (CCO), the newest member of the C-Suite. The idea comes from Canadian anthropologist Grant McCracken (and University of Chicago alum!), whose 2009 book “Chief Culture Officer” outlines why this position would serve a vital role in agencies and corporations who rely on creativity and innovation. McCracken argues that culture is both fast and slow: “Fast culture is like all the boats on the surface of the Pacific. We can spot them, track them. Slow culture is everything beneath the surface: less well charted, much less visible,” meaning there are temporary fads that are over quickly, and there are near-permanent cultural changes that occur much slower.  A Chief Culture Officer should be aware of both kinds of culture to keep the company moving forward.

So, with that said, and given the creativity-driven nature of our industry, here are three reasons why a Chief Culture Officer could help event marketing agencies:

  1. See the Bigger Picture: A Chief Culture Officer would have the time to use a wider lens on the consumer to see the whole picture. Instead of just focusing on their needs for the singular event, the CCO could analyze how those needs fit into their entire corporate lives. To produce the best events, an agency should see the whole corporation—its goals, values, everyday tasks, employee culture, etc.—to understand the event in context of the consumer’s needs, both fast and slow.
  2. Avoid Surprises: When someone’s job is to be up on culture, it becomes less likely your agency will be shocked by a new trend and fail to adapt quickly enough. Fast culture movements will be identified, monitored and implemented into your business practices as they happen. In other words, your agency can be proactive, not reactive.
  3. Create New Culture: By studying culture full time, the CCO can sometimes create new culture. Trying to be innovative without first understanding the baseline makes the process more difficult than it needs to be. If the CCO monitors and understands the culture first, they have guidance for where to go next based on real insights and research.

Just like slow culture, a change like this can’t happen overnight, but agencies like FLIRT are working to give culture more attention by doing things like attending sessions at the Chicago Ideas Week to gather ideas to guide our cultural knowledge. With just a little effort, we can all be a Chief Culture Officer.


Photo at top: PsychCentral