Australia’s event industry has had a strong post-Covid recovery and is forecast to pass $10 billion in the next five years.
In the post-lockdown excitement for events, News Corp launched its Events and Experiences division in a bid to grab a bigger share of the space. Mediaweek spoke to Diana Kay, general manager, events and experiences, about the media giant’s experience.
“News Corp decided to create a centralised events and experiences division just after Covid, and I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be GM of E&E. Three years later, we have delivered about 90 event programs in the last 12 months alone, during a period where the events industry has been really hurting,” said Kay.
“I think you’re either on one extreme or the other – you were either completely hurting and out of business to some degree, or you’re at our end where we were converting our events business into what became a live journalism program.”
While the transformation was challenging for New Corp sponsor brands were keen to stick it out. “Most of the sponsors of our programs didn’t walk away,” she said.
“Brands were still striving for a connection with their audience, and they wanted to stick with us as we worked through the reshape of our programs – and we did that successfully. Everything from The Australian’s Global Food Forum, to launching new programs like The Australian’s e-commerce summit, and mature programs like Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out.”
Kay points to News Corp’s longstanding partnership with financial multinational American Express as an example of how brands can become part of the events.
“American Express is one of the key brands that I love to refer to, because of the outcomes. We’ve got a very clear outcome for the programs that we’re running, whether it’s delicious Month Out or Vogue’s Fasion’s Night Out – AmEx sponsors both. We know what our outcomes are, but for AmEx, often it is about cardmember spend and Cardmember growth. In the case of programs like Fashion’s Night Out, it’s about merchant acquisition.
“We take on all their objectives and make them ours, and we work our event and experience strategy around those KPIs to help them achieve their targets.”
Kay is focused on significant growth strategies for the next 12 months and beyond as the business works for a greater share of the booming category.
“The Australian turns 60 next year, so I’m already deep in the weeds of planning that program – it’s going to be huge. We will continue to build on and invest in the Future series, they have proven to be sensational, and hyperlocal in their focus,” said Kay.
“The Bush Summit was one of our biggest initiatives this year. I’ve had the fortune of working on that for about three years, but this year we were tasked with scaling the Summit, and taking it out of New South Wales to all the other marketplaces.”
“If you look at any of the research and data, they’re predicting the space to be about a $10.2 billion business for Australia, with growth of about 5.5% through to 2028. You can see in the resurgence of concerts, tours, and the like that we’re all seeing and feeling – it’s not dying down anytime soon,” said Kay.
“The thing I have learned is that you cannot replace the experience someone has with any media asset that allows them to remember that experience better than an event does.”