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The Big Interview: Dina Green

Martin Fullard heads to Soho to meet Dina Green, MD at brand communications agency FreemanXP.

 

What drew you to a career in the events industry?

I fell into it really. I started working in fashion PR, because I was young and that’s all I knew at the time, but then went to work for an events agency. After a while I decided to set up my own agency, at the ripe old age of 25, before electing to move client-side when I joined Barclays. To fill what I thought was hole on my CV, I joined a large global agency, which I loved doing, and at the start of 2018 I found myself here at FreemanXP. I’ve never looked back.

How would you summarise your first 10 months at FreemanXP?

It’s been challenging, exciting, and full of opportunity. We are going through an enormous amount of change and growth at the moment. We’ve been concentrating mainly on the fact that we are the only brand communications company in the world, which we can say honestly, can provide for every single area of the live events space. That goes from the strategy and creative thinking to the actual wood, hammer and nails and actually building it.

Are brands becoming more aware of the power of live events in conveying their messages, and does this mean the events industry is almost part of the advertising industry now?

Yes, brands are absolutely more aware how valuable live events are, and we’re seeing that through an increase in spend and budgets in the marketing space.

I do not think we sit in the advertising world, but rather alongside it. I suppose it also depends on what types of advertising companies we’re talking about. We have some clients, who when we meet to discuss objectives, we meet alongside advertising agencies. However, one change I have observed is that, previously, it was always an ‘above the line’ advertising agency leading the project. Now, and as was the case at the recent Vodafone 5G event we ran, it was us which was leading the show.

Do clients ask for measurable metrics on event ROI: but is ROI the point, or is a return on reputation just as, if not more, important?

This all depends on the client and what they’re trying to achieve. It’s our responsibility as their agency to be able to challenge them, to ask the right questions, and to understand what it is exactly they want to get out of their live event. Of course, sometimes it’s all about reputation, sometimes it is return on investment, but as long as we’re clear about what the KPIs are at the beginning we can be sure we can deliver the right response for them.   

In terms of experiential engagement, is it harder to engage with a B2B audience than a B2C; how do the challenges differ?

I don’t think it’s just about B2B or B2C audiences anymore to be honest. At the end of the day, you’re communicating with a human being who is going to decide based on emotion, whether that’s a business or personal decision.

It always involves emotion, so therefore you are communicating to somebody, and the point of a live experience is the word ‘experience’, and if they feel something from it they are therefore more likely to be engaged.

Turning to the pitching process, how does FreemanXP decide which pitches it undertakes, and how do you find the process? Some agencies feel that intellectual property can be ‘stolen’ and passed to other agencies, how do you respond?

We have a system and a process which we measure as to whether we are going to go for a pitch or not. It involves asking questions like do we the resource, how well do we know the client, how many agencies are we pitching against, and is this a sweet spot for us; we measure all of these points and decide whether or not to pitch.

Are we scared that someone is going to steal our ideas during the process? Maybe they will, but what we need to be able to do is win over hearts and minds in a pitch. It’s not just about the ideas, it’s about how we engage with our potential client, and do they want to work with us for the next year? 

Broadly speaking, how do you feel the events industry is performing at the moment?

I think it’s great at the moment. FreemanXP is experiencing good budgets, plenty of opportunities, and we are, really, at the forefront of technology…which is exciting and fun!

I’m also finding that there is a lot of talent which may have historically fallen into the ‘above the line’ advertising world, but who are now reaching out and trying to get more involved with events.

Marketing graduates are a good example, we've just hired two. In the past there’s no doubt they would have gone to an ad agency, but they really wanted to work in live events and experiences, and we’re happy to have them! 

With Brexit on the horizon, are you satisfied that the industry has a loud enough voice in the ear of government? Are our industry associations doing enough?

I think we need to take responsibility for ourselves. I am confident that Freeman has put plans in place to mitigate difficulties surrounding Brexit. However, I’m not convinced we have enough of a collective voice in the ear of government, and perhaps we should be doing something about that…

How do you spend your weekends?

I live by sea, in Ramsgate, Kent. I commute up to London every day, so every weekend will see me walking on the beach with my dog, my husband and my daughter. I love going to boot fairs and trawling around antiques markets too.