Restrictions no barrier to creativity, says Google head of events

Some of the most creative events can come from being told 'no', according to Amy Brown, head of events EMEA at Google.

Amy Brown, head of events EMEA at Google
Amy Brown, head of events EMEA at Google

Speaking at C&IT’s Corporate Forum yesterday (25 February), Brown advised delegates that the some of the most creative events she had worked on came from turning a problem around and finding a new, better idea after restrictions due to cost or regulations.

Brown explained that the company’s Google Create event, which won the IT & Telecoms Event of the Year at the C&IT Awards in 2015, came about because another event was cancelled, so her team decided to put together something new to fill the space.

"The idea for the event came about because we suddenly weren’t doing an event we used to do, we’d been restricted. So we tried to find a creative way to not see the problem as a problem and I always try to have an idea in my back pocket.

"Google makes most of its money from advertising, so we decided we wanted to do something for CMOs, who didn’t really have a specific event before. We did our research to create something bespoke for them, something completely new."

Call it a pilot

Brown acknowledged that it can be very difficult to get sign off on new events, and recommended describing each new event as a pilot to get it signed off.

"People think Google is an informal and fun company, which it is, but we still have problems with budget and getting things signed off. We described the event as a pilot, which made people think it was more risk averse, which helped me get it over the line.

"Even Google can be conservative at times, so little things like calling an event a pilot and keeping it under the radar at the start can help. I also try to really build people’s confidence in the idea from the very beginning."

Big names are not the best

Brown also advised delegates to try and bring lesser-known names in to speak at events, rather than go for celebrities that head office might be pushing for. 

"I find that the speakers who resonate the most are the ones that the delegates haven’t heard of. I always try to look outside the box when selecting a speaker – I read an article the other day about a guy who was in the top ten best teachers in the whole world – he would be an amazing speaker to get!

"We once had a Japanese scientist come in and do a speech about jellyfish, and he really excited people, we got great feedback. Often bosses will want a big name, so I tell them to take a leap of faith. Then afterwards they can enjoy the fact that we’ve discovered somebody new not many people had heard of."


Case Study: Google Create

C&IT Awards 2015 winners: IT & Telecoms Event of the Year

Google wins with intelligent events

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