Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Emma Lohuis-Aguilera, Clarion Events marketing manager:

Carlota Pico 0:13
Hi, everyone, I’m Carlota Pico from The Content Mix, and I’m excited to be here today with Emma Lohuis-Aguilera, who is Clarion Events’ marketing manager, and has over 15 years of experience in marketing and communications. Welcome, Emma, and thank you so much for joining us today on The Content Mix. Okay.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 0:33
Hello Carlota. Thank you very much for having me.

Carlota Pico 0:35
The pleasure’s ours. It’s always great to have another Spaniard on the show.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 0:39

Carlota Pico 0:40
But I understand you’re living in the Netherlands right now. Is that correct?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 0:44
Yeah, I’m based in the Netherlands. I moved here almost three years ago, a few years ago.

Carlota Pico 0:49
Okay, lovely. I’m a big fan of the Netherlands. Well, we’re gonna get into your background and your experience in the next question. So I’ll let you save some of those details and later on. Could you tell me a little bit about your background, a bit about your company, and how you got into your current role?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 1:07
Well, I studied journalism in The Complutense University of Madrid, made my Erasmus in Brussels. And after that I followed with a post-graduate in marketing and communication at the Autonoma University of Madrid. I have been in very different kind of positions during the last 15 years. So it’s quite eclectic, but I think it helped me a lot to have a wider vision of what I have to do in my profession. So before my current position, my last job was a brand Content Manager for Food Film Makers, that is basically a producer, company/marketing and advertising agency, and we used to produce a lot of content for brands and then from there, I jumped into the events industry. So nowadays I’m working in Clarion Events, that is one of the largest event organizers in the world. And I work in the branch of Clarion Energy that is the ones based in the Netherlands and we are in charge of two events. They are our own events. So we produce these two events. One is a large one with more or less 80,000 attendees that takes place every year in a different location in Europe, and is basically focused in the energy sector and different kind of targeted audience inside of the energy sector. And the other one is a smaller one is a conference or something like 400 or 500 people who go to the central-eastern European region to speak about basically about energy. So that is what we are doing right now and what my company is. I don’t know if you want me tell you a little bit of what I do in this company or…?

Carlota Pico 3:03
Yeah, that would be great if you could tell me a little bit about what your current role is within Clarion.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 3:11
Okay, so I’m usually I’m the person who is in charge of getting in contact with the media partners, we have quite a large list of media partners, international ones, that help us promoting the event. And then I also coordinate with sponsors promotions, so I help them to give more visibility to their brand before the event and during the event to try to reach to their target audience to try to make the most of their social media campaign in conjunction with our digital marketing manager. So that was until now but, lately more and more involved in all the coordination of the concepts we are generated for our digital platform. And so this is basically what you will know by the name of webinars, we don’t call it the webinar. But that is what I’m doing lately. My daily thing.

Carlota Pico 4:09
Okay, well, you’re touching upon one of the questions that I was going to ask you later on into our interview. But since we’re already on the topic, we all know that the events industry has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and that many companies have had to change their event strategy from night to day. I’m sure you also face the same challenges. What did your company do to adapt overnight to the health crisis? Apart from obviously webinars, so how did you implement these webinars overnight?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 4:44
Well, to be honest, I think it wasn’t really an adaptation from night to day because we already had something in mind. We had rebranded last year we had in mind to change completely our way of organizing events. So we started to think about what we can do to change it, how we can be more digital, how can we reach more people? So basically, we were starting doing that before the Coronavirus. We were starting to plan it and think about the strategy. But that was, you know, not the priority because it’s something that we will develop during the years because we are not in a rush we are organizing that is, let’s say the priority to organize the on site event and then we will see how do we start building up this? So I would say that Coronavirus has speed up the digitalization process that was already planned, but not to be done now. So we had to do it really quickly. And we had to be super fast in order to see how we can, how we can do something how we can provide our exhibitors and sponsors with the platform or something that they can utilize to continue making business because their main goal is to network, match make, like finding the perfect match for their business and have conversations with those people and in the same time, generate business. So you cannot tell them okay, we are not going to have an event this year. But don’t worry next year you will have it but in the meantime, you cannot do business that’s, that doesn’t work… that is really bad for them and also for us. So we have to be very quick thinking in possibilities in order to give them still the visibility during the year, the possibility to interact, the possibility to be part of this big platform and to engage with their audience. Meanwhile, we are not able to be in person, but that is the final aim, of course, to have still an event. But in the meantime, we still can provide you with really cool platforms to do that. And that was the main important thing of the Coronavirus because in my daily life, I mean, I haven’t changed. I didn’t feel a lot… the change. To be honest, I’m quite more relaxed working at home and I don’t have the stress of the telephone sounding and like ringing and my colleagues shouting or whatever. So that didn’t impact my daily life. But I think it sped up that process we had already in mind to yeah to do something that actually had some kind of return for our sponsors and exhibitors.

Carlota Pico 7:30
Right. I joined the Web Summit last year for professional reasons. And I was planning on doing the same thing this year as well. And as you know, the Web Summit is an 80,000 person event, the largest technology event in Europe and I think one of the largest technology events, if not the largest, in the entire world. And I recently received a newsletter from them saying that 2020 Web Summit will not be in Lisbon, will not be an in-person event, but rather that they are digitalizing that event, and giving a platform for attendees to network through the digital space. So with that in mind, what tools are you going to be using in order to give your guests a platform to network on?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 8:12
Well, we basically now have created this whole platform. We are, first of all, we are creating the content. So we are organizing this many conferences online where people can register and attend. We have quite a big audience and we know quite well our audience. So we can, let’s say, target the message to them and propose the kind of content that can be more interesting for each and every kind of target people. So that is the first part. And then the second part will be when we actually start with the webinars because we have started with a couple of them, but not only the ones related with the event itself. That will start in July, when we start with that, we will have a platform in place where people could actually also like see other content that we have already created that can be interesting for them. Well, they could, in a couple of months interact also, because we will always have that. So in the past, also, even when the event was on site, when we were in a physical event, people could actually interact and network also through a digital platform. So that never changed. They could do it in person, of course, but in order to arrange their appointments, and in order to arrange their meetings, they could also do it like the prior moment through the app. So so we can integrate that, that shouldn’t be a problem and we are going to work really hard in providing our audience and our exhibitors with this kind of interaction. You know that that is like, okay. I just attended a webinar. I listened. It is really interesting. But yeah, after that, what more? So I think that is the important part of always of developing this kind of new strategy about the digitalization of the event is what we can give them, even if they cannot see people face to face. And I think we have realized about that with all this Zoom meetings we all are having, including you and me right now, that before I used to speak on the phone all the time, and it was like, it was not really engaging, because you…yeah, you didn’t see the face of the person. So you didn’t really remember maybe the name. I used speak with so many people in the day but now with this interaction, you actually can speak with people from all over the world without moving and not to mention all the money that you’re going to save about traveling and visiting people, etc. But also you still can engage with them. You still can start businesses. I still started media partnerships with new partners that before I didn’t know, and we connected and it was okay. And we…I think is the same for clients, they could still make business. You didn’t need to hand shake every time in order to make a lead out of a lead a final business partner. So I think that is what we are quite good at. And we’re working really hard on that. So yeah, that’s our main thing.

Carlota Pico 11:31
That’s excellent. I think one of the best ROI that I get out of events is the networking opportunity and to be able to digitalize that networking opportunity just allows guests to be able to connect with that many more attendees as well, because oftentimes at massive events just to get from point A to point B is a 20 minute walk, which is 20 minutes that you’re not focused on generating new leads or talking to new people or meeting new people, etc. So through online events, you basically have more time to also connect with other attendees who could be potential leads or potential partners, or even just new friends.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 12:08

Carlota Pico 12:09
Excellent. Well, I am going to talk a little bit about your other experience and other fields as well. I was on your LinkedIn profile and saw that you have a very strong background in content development at agencies and also managing the communication departments of private companies. So corporate communications. What tips would you give to other content marketers about how to develop a successful marketing campaign in Europe?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 12:38
Well, I would say, the most important thing is to have very, very clear image of what is your target audience. And I think in the beginning, when I started to work in content, creating content I wasn’t very aware because I was coming from, let’s say a different background. So I was working in previously in the government, for example, that’s something that has nothing to do with working with the brand. So when I started to work in a brand, I learned a lot from the team when I worked. I think they were extremely creative and good professionals. And they had a very clear image of what they wanted. So every time we were facing a campaign, they were really, really focused on what the people want to see, watch or read. Because most of the times you have meetings, for example, from an agency perspective, and not from the brand. But when you are listening to the brand, and they’re briefing you. What do they do they want? Basically is like, we want to tell this and this and this and this. Yeah, but I mean, what do you want to get? You want to get this public? And that’s people who are interested in this and this if you tell them this story, that is your story, and it’s a good story for you. But if you don’t tell them what they actually are interested in, they’re not going to they’re not going to read it, they’re not going to follow it. So it’s really, I would say is the main thing is to know your audience and to know what they want, and know very well what other people has done before you that was successful. So that is not I would say, because it’s a bit tricky. It looks like oh, yeah, you’re looking at what all of them do. And then you do your thing. No, it’s, yeah, let’s learn we all have to learn. So let’s learn from the people who have done it well. So for example, I’m thinking about one example we work. When I was in Food Film Makers, I worked with my team for a brand I was a it was chorizo brand, very Spanish. And they made… they wanted to do something viral, very viral, like something that was very powerful and had a lot of reach. And we were like, yeah, like, what can we do that is very viral? So we thought okay: what is what our audience basically watches all day long on Instagram and Facebook, it’s like cats, babies, people who fall. That is the main thing that everybody wants, and that everybody shares. So why don’t we make a video that where we include kids and adults, and then we ask them the same kind of, let’s say important questions like life questions to both of them, and they both react, they both respond to the questions. So that video had 6 million people watching it. And it was something that we really thought really quickly and I still remember when our creative director came up with this, we were all like, Ah, yeah, it can work because it has all the ingredients, but we never tried it before. And we were like, maybe this is like, you know, too easy like, yeah, of course there’s a kid everybody’s going to like it but indeed everybody liked it. And the brand in the end, they could introduce their message in that piece of content. It was there, it was all the time there because it was the most important is to be natural. That was the, let’s say their slogan, and it was there because the kids are very natural. So you have to link, what is their need to the final interest of the audience. Sorry, the interest of the final audience. So, I think that is a key for most of successful campaigns.

Carlota Pico 16:32
Okay, so it’s more about talking with your audience than talking at your audience, right? It’s about you the information and the content that they would be interested in, rather than just throwing a whole bunch of content at them and hoping that somebody clicks on it.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 16:49
Exactly. And you always, always have to listen first. I think that is the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Carlota Pico 16:56
Okay, well, in one of your previous responses, you mentioned that you had worked with the government that you had been working at… I believe the government of Pais Vasco for the region of Pais Vasco. Okay, Pais Vasco for our audience is a region within Spain and Emma is from Spain. Although she currently lives in the Netherlands. Because of her institutional experience, I do want to ask you about the differences between institutional communication versus corporate communication?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 17:27
Well, I would say it’s totally different. And it’s not only a difference in the shape, let’s say but there’s also a difference in the timings and also the difference in the approach. So for example, and also I have to admit that it was a different role because I wasn’t that much, I was also involved in the marketing part of the so like, the advertising campaigns around whatever thing like for example, if there was a new metro line or whatever I was involved with that, but I was more into the communication itself and the timings and the approach are so different because you have to be very careful with the information you are sharing when you’re in the government, because every information is extremely delicate. And everything you’re sharing with a journalist, for example, from a PR perspective, has to be very, very neat in detail. And it has to be very concrete. Because every theme that you can tell that is not part of the, let’s say, the normal speech that you have. It can be taken in the wrong way. So that is also part of the times. So the times are longer, because you need more let’s say approvals and people involved et cetera, et cetera. You have to check everything because every every information has to be very… let’s say ‘checked’ before you share it. So you have to speak with all the the technical support and the person involved with the project. So the timing is also longer. So usually with the brand you usually have, for example, in my experience, I had the person who was in charge, like to take all the decisions regarding the communication. So let’s say it’s a communication director or VP or whatever. But in the government there is like a lot of layers. So that makes it slower. And if you think from, okay, from the government to the brand, but then from a brand to an event, then it also changes. So even when you are in the private sector, it’s also different, because you have, yeah, usually in the events industry, as far as I know, in my experience, you have a lot of people implicated because you have a lot of sponsors again, so there’s also a lot of layers, again, so I think it really depends on I think the same role of the same person, depending where you’re working can be so extremely different. And even if you are like, all the time working in the same area, it’s not like a doctor that the doctor is always a doctor or a lawyer is always a lawyer there’s set so much differences between even between a small company and a big company. And it’s the same position. But it’s not the same a marketing manager in a small company and the marketing manager in Coca Cola, for example. So, yeah, I think there’s a big difference.

Carlota Pico 20:34
Yeah, I think marketing in general, just communications in general, regardless of the role that you’re in requires a lot of it requires one to be extremely agile, quick as well. And following trends and hearing what people are following and listening to and how they’re reacting to different topics or current events. I do want to pick your brain a little bit on about government still about how you help governments communicate to their public or to their audience, because from my experience working with governments, normally a State President is more of a figurehead. But it’s very hard to humanize that President. So what do you think governments can do in order to better communicate with their audience and show that behind the role there’s a human being?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 21:27
Well, maybe my experience was a little bit easier, because I’ve worked for regional government. So let’s say it’s not that tough, like with the national government, I assume the people who work right now for the President of Spain, for example, they have a much complicated situation and way more now, the situation we are that is everything is so sensitive, etc. In our case, it wasn’t that difficult to humanize the person because basically people could easily run into our lehendakari. It wasn’t that difficult. It’s not okay. He, of course is protected and all this stuff. I’m not saying that it’s like super easy to reach him. But it’s, it’s, it’s okay. It’s not super impossible to think about that situation. So I think people also had a way, let’s say, direct way to interact with politicians in small places, then, for example, in a big place like Madrid. That’s a different situation. But I think the challenge here is to be transparent. And I think something that I learned when I was in the government that I was I wasn’t the leader of that project, but I was part of the government when that happened. It was the Open Government project. And I think that was extremely nice because they were, they were putting in place even when we still didn’t have a lot of tools because it was back in 2009, so the technology wasn’t that good. We put in place a platform and all of that all the information was available, even like the salaries and everything was there. So it was like, I think they took it the idea, I think they took it from Obama’s government, and they started implementing it here. And they still do it. And they have been like, already three or four governments after so with two different political parties, so it’s not something that they have decided to, not to maintain. And I think that is really important, because it shows you like there’s nothing we have to hide, everything is here for everybody. And if you want to interact with people, if you want to interact, for example, with another director of whatever, department you can do it, you can send a message. You can see their agendas, what are they doing, how are they using their time, so I think this kind of makes humanise, quite a lot. And we also made lot of, I remember we even won… our department that was the Housing and Transport Department won a a UN prize, we went to New York and our minister was getting the prize. And it was because they create some kind of platform where people could give their opinions and insights about housing and why we were struggling so much in order to have more housing available for people why people don’t have a house, like why that is, it should be the minimum of people like they should be allowed to have a house. So they could give their opinion and they took it in consideration and they created like a whole plan. So I think this kind of things helps. But probably in a state when we’re speaking about the country, it’s more difficult.

Carlota Pico 24:52
Yeah, I think one thing, from my experience working with governments, one thing that’s extremely important is to always keep in mind that, find your role is a politician, not of a politician. But at the end of the day, the purpose, that the reason that you are a politician is because you’re there to serve your people. And if your people don’t know who you are, it’s going to be extremely hard for you to relate to them. And that’s the power of communications. That’s why communication departments exist, because it helps to humanize obviously, the politician, but at the same time, it helps a politician to understand its public. And so it’s a two way conversation, I believe, that always has to exist, either between the politician or it’s public or even between the brand and its audience, whatever you’re doing in whatever field you’re working in. I think that a good marketing and a good communication professional will always be having a two way conversation, listening, using that and then using that information in order to project content that’s a value to their public. Whether that be whether that might be housing like you just mentioned your response, or whether that be a new campaign about x, y, z promotion.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 26:08
Yeah, exactly. I couldn’t agree more. And it’s… it’s exactly that. And I think that is why it works really well when you as a brand and not only as a government member, and you have some channels that enable people to interact with you. And when you have a really effective team that can react to people, and that’s something I’m going to say we also do for more events. That’s good, because people feel listened, and then they engage more with you. So that’s key.

Carlota Pico 26:37
Yeah, definitely. Well, this response has led me to my next question. When it comes to content HubSpot, CEO said the following: “What separates good content from great content is a willingness to take risks, and also to push the envelope.” So because of your experience in brand marketing, I want to ask you about what separates good brand marketing from great brand marketing?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 27:04
Well, I will come back a little bit to my words before I think it’s always about target audience and knowing what they want. And I also think is vital to put all your efforts in how that content is being creating. I am fed up of sending to webinars where the speaker is boring. Where the background is horrible with a cat passing by that I don’t have anything against the cats but after you see it 30 times is not nice anymore. Or you know, when you really feel that they haven’t taken any kind of interest, they haven’t put any kind of interest on it and that’s, I feel it the bit, discouraging, like I don’t want to spend 30 minutes or an hour watching something that actually is not really prepared. So you are the first one who wants to sell something or who wants to share something, and you don’t even put the effort on it, so why should I? I don’t want to waste my time on this. And it’s the same with the brands. When I see videos, and I work really a lot with HORECA and with gastronomic brands. And I’ve seen a lot of videos that were really beautiful. Okay, some of them not not all of them, because our views are good, because some of them are empty accounts, if that makes no sense. And then that is also not good for the brand because they’re losing their time. But at least if they’re catchy, or they have something that makes them attractive in I don’t know, you feel some kind of engaged and you at least you stay and maybe the message is not enough and then you say I didn’t like it, but at least you make the effort but when you see like a video that somebody has made like I cannot tell you examples because it will be really mean but I have seen videos of people with a mobile like, yeah, I’m going to tell you what it is look how beautiful and it’s horrible. I mean, no lighting no nothing and maybe because I have a background, I work with this people who were extremely professional on the video-making and now I see all the spots. But yeah, put some effort on. It’s like your baby. You have to do it with love. And then you can do it with love. It doesn’t work.

Carlota Pico 29:28
Yeah, actually, I love this reminds me of MasterChef. I’m not sure if you watch this show, but I’m a big fan of MasterChef. And it’s all about being visually appealing.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 29:37

Carlota Pico 29:37
So yes, tasty, but it also has to be visually beautiful. And that’s something that the participants who are on the show are constantly told about because as human beings we’re extremely visual creatures. We love anything that’s visually appealing and if it’s tasty. I mean, that’s the basic, right? But in order to do something that’s incredible, not only has to be tasty, it also has to be beautiful. And I think, I think that’s what you’re saying as well, that content not only has to be informative or useful or provide value, but also has to be well presented.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 30:20
Exactly. Because also, we have to, if you think if you make the comparison with the food is very easy to understand, because maybe something is super tasty. But if it doesn’t look like tasty, you’re never going to give it a try. And if it looks horrible, maybe it’s the best thing you ever have tried in your life. But if it looks horrible, why, I don’t want it. So it’s the same with marketing, we are marketers, we have to sell things. So if we are going to sell something, we have to do it in the proper way, and it has to look great. So.

Carlota Pico 30:52
Especially in the era of social networks, I mean we have platforms like Instagram, we have the rise of TikTok all of that is visual content. And we can see that the more appealing the content is, the better the engagement normally will be as well. Wonderful. Well, thank you for those insights, I am going to be moving into our set of rapid fire questions which are basically your recommendations for our audience, the first question will be your source of inspiration?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 31:23
Well, I have a lot to be honest, I am, I would say, the first of all, it was my grandfather, because he was a very inspiring person. And I think everybody who knows me and listens to this will say like, “Oh, again!?”, because I always speak about him. And he was, he was a very visionary person he was. He was one of the first person I ever heard that he could speak Esperanto that is like a language that almost nobody speaks. And he was a Buddhist and he died at 80 in ’98. So it was something that is not normal to be a Buddhist back then. And he was a vegetarian also it you know, it’s uh, he was very advanced for his time. And I always had in mind what he will be thinking about me now. Like what what it will be his his impression about how I develop as a person. So I think that is…I will say he is my main source of… yeah.

Carlota Pico 32:28
That is beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. It makes me a bit emotional as well.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 32:33
Yeah, me too. I have to stop.

Carlota Pico 32:37
I think if you kept on going both of us would end up in tears .So let’s move on to the next question. A book or publication that you’d like to recommend to our audience?

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 32:47
Well, I read not very long ago, a book that I never thought I was going to read because I don’t like these kind of books that are auto….

Carlota Pico 33:02

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 33:03
No, autobiography I love a lot. No… like to learn about yourself?

Carlota Pico 33:07

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 33:07
Yeah, auto-help, yeah. So I read this book called… well, it’s a Spanish book…so I’m going to translate the title Being Happy in Alaska, and it’s written by psychologist, a Catalan psychologist who explains like the keys of happiness based on yourself. You don’t have to depend on what is happening around you to be happy. And I must admit, I’m not going to tell you what changed my life because I’m not that kind of person. But I felt immediately good because he was claiming why it’s not important where you are, it’s not important what you have around you, the money you have or the important thing is your mindset. If you recover from everything, and you say like, okay, I lost my job—I will find another. I finished with my relation—well It wasn’t a good relation. So if you change your mindset, then you are instantly happy. And that is a very good lesson because I’m not like that. So it was very helpful to see how you can do it by yourself without external help.

Carlota Pico 34:18
Okay, I love it and for all of our audience who is interested in possibly purchasing that book that is Being Happy in Alaska by Rafael Santadreu. Okay, what about an event or hashtag that you would like to recommend to our audience? And recommending your own event is perfectly fine as well!

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 34:42
Okay, I recommend my own event, Enlit Europe! Yeah, but for those who are not related with the energy industry, I’m thinking for example, somebody who is more, like, in another kind of industry like IT. I really like TechCrunch. I think I started to like it when I started to work in this event because I was searching for let’s see what other brands and other events organizers were doing. And from the beginning I really liked it and then I’m quite a fan of Silicon Valley series. And when I was watching it, I was like, Oh, this is an event I already found out and I like it a lot so I could actually see it without being there because it’s still in the in the series and I really like it and from then on, I follow it and now I all the time seen how they were adapting their communications so I think it’s, it’s a good one.

Carlota Pico 35:46
Yeah, I agree with you as well. I love TechCrunch I’m a big fan of TechCrunch. As a former entrepreneur, I not only follow TechCrunch their content online, but I also am a big fan of the event. So definitely recommendable.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 36:02
We can try when it’s open again, everything we can try and go.

Carlota Pico 36:06
Yes, it would be amazing to go together and meet each other in person finally. Okay, Emma. Well, thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. those were great tips. And thank you again for your time for your commitment and for your attention and best of luck in your future endeavors.

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 36:26
Thank you, you too. Best of luck.

Carlota Pico 36:28
Thank you and everyone listening in. Thank you so much for joining us on The Content Mix. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out The Content Mix. We’ll be releasing interviews just like this one every week. So keep on tuning in. Have a great weekend and see you next time. Bye!

Emma Lohuis-Aguilera 36:49

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