In the content business

Europe Features
In the content business

Every employee at Rai Amsterdam will soon be creating content. CMW looks at the company’s latest initiative.

Congress and exhibition venue and organiser RAI Amsterdam is telling more stories than ever thanks to a new staff initiative – giving employees the space and means to make and distribute their own content. “Everyone will be involved in content marketing within three years,” says Yvonne Nassar, head of marketing & innovation. She says the event business has always been about connecting and ‘inspiring’ people and while this used to primarily involve physical meetings, a digital layer also has a key role to play today.

For RAI Amsterdam, which organises over 25 consumer and trade exhibitions itself and facilitates hundreds of other events as a venue, digital content has considerably changed its global outlook. “Instead of lasting a day or week, events often continue throughout the year online,” explains Nassar. “This has made their impact much greater.

We can connect people before, during, and after an event, using content for matchmaking.” Amsterdam competes with other cities such as Paris, London, Frankfurt and Barcelona, trading in particular on the compactness of the city, which it hopes enables it to make an event more visible, and according to Nassar, “expand its impact on visitors”. One good example of the latter was the ERS Congress last September, which drew 23,000 respiratory specialists to Amsterdam to discuss respiratory disease.

As part of the event’s mandate, the organisers wanted to provide visibility for the ‘Healthy Lungs for Life’ campaign in the city as well. So in co-operation with Amsterdam Marketing, people were able to have their lungs tested on Dam Square. “There were also specific bicycle and walking routes which showed where to find the cleanest air in the city,” adds Nassar.

These related activities were concentrated within the marketing and communication departments of RAI Amsterdam, but for a company with content in its DNA, this was no longer going to be sufficient. According to Nassar, digitisation demands a broader involvement. “We mainly use social media in a reactive way, which means we listen to what people have to say,” says Nassar.

“We want to expand this concept (which Nassar refers to as ‘webcare’) through a more proactive approach.” To this end the RAI is now appointing a number of ‘content connectors’ within the company, tasked with supporting the departments and employees in their marketing and communication needs. This, she claims, will also give the company a more distinct identity. In the long term nearly everyone within the company will be involved in content.

Several years ago, RAI’s executive chef Rientz Mulder and his right hand man Paul Conijn were looking to create more commitment among temporary staff: the hundreds of kitchen employees who are present during large events. They also wanted to highlight their field among other RAI employees. So they created an open environment, in this case a new Facebook page ‘Basement Chefs’, where they share stories and photos from the kitchen.

“They have done so well that we want to integrate this within our external communication to clients,” says Nassar. “These efforts have to be given the space and freedom to grow.” Other developments include a focus on internal social media, for which employees can take advantage of an iMovie video production course, and are offered job-related training.

The barrier to using social media actively was further lowered when the intranet was implemented as a social network some two years ago. Previously all content was developed by the corporate communication department. Now they manage the content, while employees can place their own messages and respond to them directly. Many companies have a good vision on future challenges but are unable to translate it to their own business. At the RAI, the ability to turn even modest attributes into a positive showcase for its services, is being understood.