The Important Role of Creative Events in the Creative Industries

Last Updated: 22 Mar 2023
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The creative industries encompass all those activities and sectors that involve the production or exploitation of goods and services deriving mainly from creativity, information and knowledge. (Barrowclough & Kozul-Wright, 2012) As Hesmondhalgh (2012) pointed out, during the past four decades, cultural production has been subject to continuous transformation as a result of various factors, including the development of new technologies, the introduction of new policies and regulations, the internationalisation of cultural products and changing socio-cultural patterns, to name but a few. (pp. 2-3)

In spite of the challenges posed by the aforementioned macro-environmental phenomena, the creative industries have managed to become increasingly flexible, profitable and responsive to external changes, to the extent that they are now regarded as a highly promising and vibrant sector all over the world. (Henry, 2007) From an economic perspective, former UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller observed that in 2012, cultural production contributed over £71 billion to the British economy and created more than 140.000 jobs, thus proving to be the fastest-growing sector in the United Kingdom. (CIUK TOTHEWORLD, 2014; Department for Culture et al., 2014)

In order to fully understand how the creative industries have evolved in such a way to become increasingly prominent in various countries around the world, it is important to analyse the phenomena that have triggered their rise and fuelled their transformation. For example, the commodification of art has strongly contributed to the success of the creative sector by turning artistic labour and products into commodities and workshops into workplaces. (Hayward, 2014, p.150) As a result of that, today's creative organisations need to market their creative products and services as effectively as possible in order to achieve their strategic goals and survive in today's highly competitive global market.

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In view of these considerations, this report will provide an overview of the creative industries, by identifying their main elements and illustrating how artistic labour has been transformed into a commodity. Moreover, considering the important role played by creative events in this thriving sector, this report will also explain how events can be publicised with the assistance of public relations/communication theory.

The creative industries are mainly concerned with cultural products and services which affect the way in which consumers see and understand the world. (Hesmondhalgh, 2012, p.4) As Power & Scott (2004) observed, what makes these industries unique is their double-faceted nature, as they consist of small firms and large conglomerates operating within the same networks. (pp.3-4) As a result of changing market conditions, more and more creative firms prefer agglomerating together in order to enhance their competitiveness and international profile whilst strengthening their position within certain national markets. (Power & Scott, 2004)

International media conglomerates represent excellent examples of such strategic arrangements. Murdoch's News Corporation, for instance, is a highly profitable transnational mass media conglomerate whose offering includes education, information, news and media services. (News Corp, 2015) World-renowned newspapers and magazines such as The Wall Street Journal, The Times, GQ, Vogue and The Telegraph are only some of the titles owned by News Corporation. (News Corp, 2015)

Besides traditional media and information services, creative organisations are suppliers of a vast range of different products, including music, fashion, jewellery, books, videogames, films, new media, digital products, fashion and other "texts". (Power & Scott, 2004; Howkins, 2001)

As Hesmondhalgh (2012) pointed out, "texts" is a suitable collective term that can be used to refer to creative organisations' extremely diverse offering, which is no longer seen as less useful than industrial production. (p.3) This is because just like the industrial age succeeded the agricultural age in the 18th century, in the 1980's, the rise of the so-called cultural economy caused information societies to replace industrial ones. (Andersen & Taylor, 2007, p.133) As a result of that, cultural products and services replaced manual labour and mass- produced industrial goods as the main drivers of economic growth and prosperity. (Hesmondhalgh, 2012, p. 100; Power & Scott, 2004, pp.4-5)

As Hartley et al. (2012) noted, the emergence of new media has played an important role in the transition from industrial to information societies. This is because while traditional media are associated with "manufacturing”, distribution and promotional techniques that are not too different from those of industrial products, the new media introduced during the Web 2.0 age (which officially began in 1999) have completely revolutionised the creative industries by democratising the production of "texts". (Hartley et al., 2012, pp.134-136; Hesmondhalgh, 2012; xvii; Dashper et al., 2014; p.117)

In light of the remarkable growth and earnings achieved by the creative industries during the past few decades, it is evident that cultural production represents a highly profitable sector whose very existence revolves around the monetary value of culture and artistic labour. In other words, instead of seeing cultural products as things that are made exclusively for consumption purposes, creative organisations treat “texts" as commodities, i.e. goods or services that can be sold and/or purchased in a certain market.

It follows that the commodification of culture and artistic labour has played a fundamental role in the rise, development and growth of the creative industries. Commodification is a process which German philosopher Karl Marx (1848, cited in Kolb, 2007, p.355) firmly rejected by claiming that human relations, labour and personal value should not be reduced to mere commodities.

As an economic system which revolves around private property, market competition, profit generation and the exchange of goods and services, capitalism has been a key driver of commodification as it encourages capitalists to create an ever-growing number of commodities for others to purchase. (Allan, 2012, pp.86-87) Intellectual property has also contributed to the commodification of culture through patents, copyright and trademarks which restrict access to ideas, knowledge, creative products and artistic labour, thus transforming them into saleable private properties. (Hesmondhalgh, 2012, pp. 159-160)

While intellectual property has allowed artists, workers and creative organisations to turn knowledge and information into profitable goods, it should be noted that excessively restrictive measures are likely to lead to various negative consequences, including limited access to culture, extreme cost-cutting strategies and, returning to Marxist theory, workers' alienation (as even though inventors get to be associated with their cultural products, no recognition is given to those who manufacture them). In this regard, Krikorianand & Kapczynski (2010) observed that numerous people all over the world have already started objecting to the contemporary intellectual property regime, which has been restricting public access to an ever-growing number of sectors and fields. (pp. 10-14)

First of all, it is worth mentioning that all businesses need an appropriate marketing strategy, regardless of their industry, scope, strategy and objectives. (Pantoomano-Pfirsch & Sethi, 2015, p.18) It follows that creative organisations also need to market their cultural products and services in order to achieve their strategic goals. As Flew (2011) observed, events such as concerts, fashion shows, fairs, exhibitions and festivals play a crucial role in the creative sector as besides being creative services themselves, they can also assist in the promotion and distribution of cultural products (e.g. fashion collections, books, works of art and so forth). (p.90)

However, promoting a creative event in such a way to reflect the creative nature of the product being offered is not an easy task, as each type of event requires adequate tactics and strategies. In view of its remarkable potential and proven effectiveness, PR (public relations) is an excellent marketing tool that can be used by any business to reach its target audience and to generate interest in its offering. (Pantoomano-Pfirsch & Sethi, 2015, pp. 18-19) In order to gain a better understanding of the significant impact that a well-planned PR strategy can have on a firm's success, suffice to say that some of the world's largest companies have been found to invest millions of dollars in PR and advertising in order to influence the public. (Quinn & Young, 2015)

PR is a powerful marketing tool that can be used for a variety of purposes, including raising awareness among a firm or individual's target audience, generating interest, opening up or penetrating new markets, publicising a product and ensuring that the right people talk about it, to name but a few. (Pantoomano-Pfirsch & Sethi, 2015, pp.18-19)

PR can also assist organisations in the promotion of creative events, as long as publicists develop effective communication plans which reflect the nature and scope of the event and are in line with the organiser's overall strategy. As Jackson (2013, pp. 5-10) observed, planning an effective PR plan for an event involves a number of steps, including identifying the event manager's needs and goals, selecting a target audience, deciding how communication with target consumers will be handled (vertical or horizontal communication), determining whether and how the event fits into the event manager's overall marketing strategy, staying within a certain budget (which may either be proposed by the publicist or set by the event manager) and preparing a timetable to ensure that specific deadlines are met.

From a strategic point of view, it is important that the publicist is aware of the goals that the event manager would like to achieve by hosting a creative event, so that they can set an adequate set of communication objectives on the basis of the organisation's long-term strategic goals. If, for example, an association wanted to promote an art fair, the first thing to do would be to analyse the association's mission, strategic goals and the environment in which it operates as to identify any competitors and analyse their strategies and communication plans.

This kind of information is essential to preparing a PR plan as it provides publicists with a starting point for their campaigns. For instance, if the aforementioned association aimed at attracting younger artists and wanted to be associated with innovative and unconventional art forms, its publicists would have to take into consideration all of these factors when drafting a communication campaign.

In view of these considerations, it appears evident that preparing a PR plan for a creative event is not that different from developing a strategic plan for a firm or a project, as they both require an in-depth analysis of internal and external/environmental factors before proceeding with the planning and execution phases. (Jackson, 2013, pp. 87-90)

Although all of the above steps may appear unnecessary and time consuming, especially when developing a communication plan for a one-off creative event, it is crucial that publicists' short-term plans should be based on event managers' long-term strategies in order to maximise their chances of success. This way, it will be easier for PR practitioners to manage communication in such a way to help the event organiser achieve their goals.

After gaining a sufficient understanding of the event manager's strategic intent, the publicist can prepare a communication plan by setting appropriate communication objectives, selecting a target audience, identifying themed messages and message styles, developing a media strategy and preparing a budget. (Cornelissen, 2014) As Cornelissen (2014) pointed out, the above steps can be applied to any communication campaign as they provide professionals with a clear and simple framework which allows them to identify the main targets of their plans whilst setting "SMART" objectives. "SMART" is an acronym which summarises the basic criteria that any organisation's communication goals should satisfy: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. (Cornelissen, 2014)

With regards to target audience identification, a creative event's stakeholders play a very important role in helping practitioners to select appropriate themed messages, message styles and media channels. For example, if a publicist was to promote a creative event aimed at launching a young pop singer, they would probably target teenagers and conduct market research in order to identify the most effective way to reach their target audience.

On the basis of their findings, they would then adopt adequate framing techniques and use media channels that are likely to appeal to teenagers (e.g. pop music magazines, teen magazines, popular radio and TV shows, various social media platforms etc.). In order to evaluate the effectiveness of a communication campaign for a creative event, it is important to monitor its progress as to determine whether the initial communication objectives are being met. (Cornelissen, 2014)

Similarly to any other event, creative events should be planned with great care in order to achieve satisfactory results. As Jackson (2013) observed, there exist various types of events, each of which should be publicised and organised using appropriate strategies and methods. For example, cultural celebrations, concerts, sporting events, art exhibitions, trade fairs and leisure events all require different PR approaches. It follows that if a museum wanted to organise an art exhibition, its PR strategy would focus on journalists who may be interested in art events, rather than business or financial reporters.

With regards to the creative industries, product launches, press conferences, exhibition stands, venue openings, private shopping evenings, foreign trips and media lunches are the main types of PR events hosted by creative organisations. On the basis of Cornelissen's (2014) framework, before planning any of the aforementioned events, one should first conduct research in order to collect as much information as possible about the event manager's strategy, target audience and competition as to determine what kind of media coverage is going to be needed to publicise the event. (Austin & Pinkleton, 2015, pp.71-74)

For example, in order to promote a product launch, a press release could be written and sent to various media outlets that may be interested in writing or talking about that particular product. However, in order to maximise their chances of having their stories published or broadcast, practitioners should also target specific media professionals depending on the creative event that they are publicising (e.g. editors, news editors, journalists, correspondents etc.).

When planning the actual event, whether it is a folk concert or an art exhibition, every PR specialist should take into consideration a number of practical factors, such as where and when the event will be held, whether the chosen location and date/time are suitable for the event manager's target audience, what will happen during the event, what kind of food, products or services (e.g. CD's, DVD's, autographs, biographies, pictures etc.) will be offered to attendees and how the client and stakeholders' needs will be met. (Jackson, 2013, pp. 58- 66) As Ciconte & Jacob (2011) pointed out, when promoting special events, PR practitioners should generate as much publicity as possible by employing a variety of techniques.

If, for instance, a publicist was trying to promote a new musical, they could publish pictures taken during rehearsals on a dedicated website, as well as on dedicated social media profiles; the said pictures could also be sent together with a press release and a themed media kit to local newspapers and television stations in order to capture their attention and create buzz around the upcoming premiere.

While public relations and communication theory can be certainly adapted in such a way to meet creative organisations' marketing and advertising needs, it can't be denied that despite being one of the world's most thriving and promising sector, the creative industries have not been given as much as attention as other sectors. This reflects on the limited amount of literature available on creative public relations and advertising, which are essential to promoting creative products and services.

To be more precise, there exists a wealth of information and theories about the rise of the knowledge economy and the important role played by the cultural industries in replacing industrial production with cultural production as the main driver of economic growth. However, the insufficient amount of creative PR and marketing literature suggests that scholars, academics, researchers and policymakers have been unable to grasp the complexities of today's cultural sector and its strong connection with PR and advertising.

As a result of that, even though both PR and advertising have been discussed, analysed and presented as highly effective marketing tools, their close relationship with the creative industries has not yet been explored in sufficient depth as media studies are still in the process of adapting to the numerous changes that have been occurring since the beginning of the 21st century. In this regard, Hesmondhalgh (2012) noted that between 2005 Web 2.0 era. (p. xvii) Therefore, considering the fast pace at which the creative sector has been evolving, it is highly likely that it will take some time for academics and researchers to adapt our current PR knowledge to the broad nature and diverse needs of today's creative organisations as to provide practitioners with up-to-date tools and frameworks.

In view of the observations, theories and practical considerations presented in this report, it is evident that the creative industries represents a fast-growing sector which relies heavily on marketing (which is also a creative industry itself) to promote cultural products and services. PR is a highly effective marketing tool which is often employed by PR practitioners to raise awareness among their target audience and to communicate with certain stakeholders. Creative organisations' cultural offering, which includes many different creative events, need to be publicised through carefully-planned communication campaigns.

Cultural products and services can be promoted through various PR events, including product launches, press conferences, exhibition stands, venue openings, private shopping evenings, foreign trips and media lunches. Each type of event requires specific PR strategies and tactics, which is why it is important that PR practitioners plan an effective communication plan taking into consideration all stakeholders' needs and expectations. From an analysis of the literature available on creative PR strategies, it emerged that existing theories and frameworks do not fully reflect the complex nature of today's creative sector. However, considering that creative organisations operate in a highly dynamic environment which has only recently been revolutionised, it is likely that their impressive growth will encourage academics and policymakers to pay more attention to their PR needs.

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The Important Role of Creative Events in the Creative Industries. (2023, Mar 22). Retrieved from

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