The Digital Event Strategist Experience

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Back in 2017, Redstone’s CEO, Carly Silberstein, obtained the Digital Event Strategist (DES) Certification from PCMA’s The Digital Experience Institute®. Over the past few years, this designation has equipped Carly with the highest-level of proficiency and achievement within the digital events industry and now, more than ever, she is relying on the foundation and knowledge from the certification to bring value to Redstone clients and lead them through the transition from live events to virtual events. Most recently, Carly was named a finalist in the “Digital Experience Strategist of the Year” category of The PCMA Foundation Visionary Awards which exemplifies her commitment to the designation.

Recently Carly has been fielding calls from industry colleagues that are interested in obtaining the DES certification. In an effort to share this information more widely, check out some of the questions she has been receiving below (it might just convince you to pursue the DES designation too!).

Q: Do you think the designation is worthwhile?

Carly: Absolutely! Now more than ever! This designation gives you the foundation from which to build your planning and execution skills within the virtual realm. While event planning and logistics management skills are transferable, there are other/different elements to consider when transitioning to a virtual event or introducing a digital component to a live event. Some of these considerations are engagement tactics, communication strategies, technology requirements and capabilities, user experience, measurement/ROI, etc. The DES certification exposed me to all of these considerations and taught me how to tackle them.

Q: How long does it take/what type of commitment is required to complete the program?

Carly: The DES certification courses are available live (7-weeks online) or self-paced (pre-recorded). It’s about 25 hours of content, plus time to digest and internalize the information and prepare for the online multiple choice exam.

Q: What part of the course material do you rely on most?

Carly: I think that PCMA does a fantastic job with the research they do. I often rely upon the research, statistics and case studies that were used throughout the DES program. For example, we often hear that organizations are apprehensive to adopt a digital event strategy because they are fearful of cannibalizing their revenues and in-person attendance numbers – but this myth was busted! PCMA found that including a digital and/or a hybrid component to events actually has the reverse impact. Organizations experienced an increase in revenue, reach and in-person attendance at a future event. This was attributed to a number of different factors but namely the digital event allows the organization to build/strengthen a community that were eager to meet face-to-face following their positive online experience. Having sound research to inform and back-up my recommendations and decision-making has been instrumental.

Q: Do you think there will still be such an emphasis on virtual events once life resumes as normal after COVID-19?

Carly: Absolutely – events are virtual today, will become hybrid events tomorrow, and in-person events will make a comeback sometime soon. However, I’m confident more and more events will incorporate virtual elements after COVID-19. And if we’ve learned anything from this pandemic – planners will build virtual contingency plans into all of their events moving forward!

Q: Any other thoughts or comments?

Carly: How long do you have? I am very passionate about this topic and proud to have been one of the first 40 people (in the world!) to achieve this designation. I think that this designation is now more widely recognized within the industry and beyond, and this will only continue to be the case with the reality presented by COVID-19. As I previously mentioned, organizations have been reluctant to adopt digital strategies but I have hope that working with a team that has one or more DES certified members will put them at ease and allow them to proceed with confidence. I would also say that by participating in this program, I was able to establish relationships with some of the leading subject matter experts in the world. I have continued to stay in touch with them, and consult them from time-to-time. For example, Jennifer Kingen Kush, the former President and Executive Director of PCMA’s Digital Experience Institute (DEI) – the organization that created the DES certification – is a trusted colleague and friend. Most recently, Jennifer joined Redstone in a digital roundtable to discuss offering value through digital events.

Carly is a passionate advocate of the DES designation and the digital/hybrid event space. If you have any questions for Carly, she’d welcome the opportunity to speak with anyone that is considering the designation or incorporating digital into their event strategy. Reach out to her out anytime! For more information about the certification, you can visit the official DES website.

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