The Main event

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As I write this, Euro 2020 is taking place, the first event since the pandemic seeing Glasgow welcome not only spectators to Hampden, but visitors to a fan zone (albeit with strict socially distanced rules and time slots). 

Is this a move towards the return of events? And, why do we love congregating in a cold stadium, muddy field or sweaty room, quite so much?  

Everyone remembers their first ‘proper’ event, whether it was a pop concert, festival or sports match. I will never forget the excitement and thrill of attending my first concert and then the absolute terror when I had to be rescued from a spontaneous ‘mosh pit’ (wearing pink shoes made from sequins, I was just a little bit out of my depth!). 

Experiencing an event together can spark everlasting friendships, create lifelong memories and can change the direction of your life. We manage events at student career fairs and see first-hand how one conversation at a career fair can set a student along the twists and turns of a career pathway they never expected. 

And, alongside providing great pics for ‘the gram’, events provide us with many emotional and psychological benefits. David Meerman Scott sums up it nicely in his book ‘The New Rules of Marketing and PR’:

“Humans crave physical interaction with other humans. We want to be part of a tribe of other humans. That’s baked into our neuroscience. Our brains thrive around being around people who are just like us.”

It’s not just the psychological benefits of personal connection – studies also demonstrate the psychological benefits (1) to simply being part of a crowd, including improved mood, greater self-esteem and feelings of belonging. Whether that be screaming at the top of your lungs for Scotland at a rugby match, laughing along with a comedian at the Edinburgh festival or singing (screaming?) along with a band in a muddy field at Glasgow Green. It’s these feelings and benefits many of us have been missing during the pandemic.  Events make you brainer too – a growing number of psychological studies (2) demonstrate that our brain functions better when interacting in large groups and experiencing togetherness. 

I miss events in all their varieties. Even those awkward ones where the band is rubbish, the freezing ones where it is so rainy and cold your lips go blue and the never ending ones, where you spend the whole day making painful small talk. But we are moving in the right direction and events will return! 

In the meantime, we are strategizing and managing hybrid events which embrace the best of the physical and digital event world combining smaller scale in-person events with virtual interactive events. Do get in touch if you would like to know more. If not, perhaps I will meet you desperately dodging a mosh pit soon! 

Keri Wyatt, Account Director Union Connect – the partnership, experiential events  and communication arm of the Union. 

(1) Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995)

(2) De Bruin and Strijbos, Kilner et al (2015).