Inside the BizBash Canada 250: Jennifer James

James is an event producer at Calgary-based Jennifer James Events.

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Photo: Courtesy of Jennifer James

In the 2020 BizBash Best Canada issue, we named the top 250 event professionals in Canada. Here's a spotlight on one of them.

You’ve been recognized for your work with the Jamboree for Charity in support of the Children’s Grief Centre with Hospice Calgary. Describe the project and what you think set it apart.
Jamboree is always one of my favorite events of the year and I think it has a lot to do with the community focus. It’s designed as an intimate event that truly embraces our western culture and the local charities that make our city the amazing place it is. It’s 100 percent privately funded, which is also a unique perk that allows for more personalization and freedom to focus all our energy on our guests and the charity of choice. We make a point of featuring up-and-coming Canadian Country musicians and work closely with our charities to ensure they get elevated exposure. Our primary focus is always on the charity and building our community, which makes everyone feel like they’re actually making a difference (and having a fabulous time doing it!)

When building momentum for an event can you talk about the role that traditional print and broadcast media versus social media plays? How do you decide where to focus your energy?
Like every industry, there has been a huge shift from traditional media to digital platforms. It’s simply where the audience has gone so naturally our techniques have shifted along with them. It’s always been crucial that any promotions we partake in are well targeted in both positioning and messaging. As much as I love Instagram, there is still a place for radio, television, and print, depending on the type of event. I often find the best response comes from utilizing internal contact lists and sending well-designed and targeted communications through platforms like Constant Contact or Mailchimp. It’s still all about knowing your audience and sending the right message.

Can you talk about your experience in building sponsorship programs and how you use events to support these initiatives?
Building successful sponsorship programs has been a huge part of my career over the years, but it’s a bit of a balancing act. To ensure strong partnerships everyone has to win: Brands need a way to stand out and event producers need a comfortable mix of promotion and entertainment that doesn’t leave attendees feeling as if they’ve been pelted with logos and sales pitches. Ultimately, it’s about understanding your audience and working well-chosen sponsors into the overall event, rather than along with it. The attendee experience is paramount. Finding unique opportunities for sponsors to help build an event experience is the sweet spot that makes everyone happy.

This story appeared in the 2020 BizBash Best Canada issue.