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Events and conferences are back to their post-pandemic activity levels, which means a resurgence of in-person media engagements and brand promotion. Account Director, Larissa Padden shared her observations, insights and outlook for event marketing in 2024, from being on the ground at this year’s Money20/20 USA in a discussion with Account Director, Vanja Lakic. Listen to this month’s episode which features a special Cogcast announcement.


Transcript for podcast

Vanja Lakic  00:05

Hello, everyone. Welcome to Cogcast Cognito's podcast where we speak with journalists and communication pros on the latest happenings in the media world. I'm your host Vanja Lakic. Today, we first want to give a quick shout out to Cogcast. Our team here at Cognito recently won a Marcom Gold Award for Cogcast, which honors excellence in marketing and communications. Of course, we're humbled and very happy to see that our listeners are drawing value from our discussions. That's just a side note. Today, what we really want to talk about is Money20/20, which recently wrapped up its U.S. event in Las Vegas on October 30. Cognito was Money20/20's official communications partner, and today we'll hear from our very own Cogcast cohost, Larissa Padden, who was on the ground for the second year in a row at Money20/20, we'll chat to Larissa about what she observed where the opportunities are for businesses and what we can expect event marketing to look like next year. Larissa, glad to have you on today.


<Larissa Padden  01:15

Hi, thank you for having me. That's a little weird to say having me on the podcast. Normally we take turns on this and we're here together, but it'll be fun!


Vanja Lakic  01:23

Fun co host.


Larissa Padden  01:25



Vanja Lakic  01:26



Larissa Padden  01:26



Vanja Lakic  01:27

Walk us through the weeks of preparation, you and the team have done ahead of the event as Money20/20 Is official communications partner.


Larissa Padden  01:34

Sure. So we have a good team that is made up of people from the New York office, people from our UK office that also handled the Europe show, we started about two to three months out in advance, we handle all the media relations. So that means that we are signing up pitching to media, journalists, analysts to attend the event. At the same time, we are creating publicity for Money20/20, the brand and the show themselves the spokespeople for the show as well. And then we are securing interviews and coverage, both pre show for the brand. And then the keynote speakers that wish to participate in media relations as well we handle all of that.


Vanja Lakic  02:19

And of course, this is your second year doing this, what's changed from last year?


Larissa Padden  02:24

It's bigger. I say that mostly from ambition of the brand. You know, every year they want to grow, they want to achieve more, they want to reach more people with important messages from the industry. So you know, they always challenged themselves to come up with new ideas, bigger ideas, and just put on a really fun show. They want people to really enjoy being there.


Vanja Lakic  02:49

What were some of the challenges?


Larissa Padden  02:51

So I think there's always a challenge in getting media to attend, not that they don't attend, but they sign up later in the process. So it's a fair bit of wondering, Where is everyone that was there last year when you start to see the registrations and they do come. But you know, it's important to note that a lot of people, and I was guilty of this myself, when I was a reporter, you make the plans to go and almost forget to register, it's an afterthought. So you've booked the hotel, you make the plane flights, you start scheduling interviews, and then you think, oh, I should probably register for that press pass. And they can do it all the way up until on site at the conference. So we always get a really good crowd that attends, but it's a little bit of a challenge, you know, controlling your nerves when the media list doesn't look exactly like it did last year, in the early months. So that's always a challenge. It's a lot of plates spinning just in terms of a lot of schedules that you're coordinating for both the brand for yourselves for the keynote speakers. So that's always a challenge. But I feel like we have it a pretty good system now. Those are the main ones that come to mind. And it's a big show. So you know, you just have to be prepared for long days, lots of running, drink water, when you can bring a sweater because it's very cold. Some of our team members learned that this year, and just be prepared to always be on the move.


Vanja Lakic  04:05

What were some of the biggest media and PR opportunities for businesses this year?


Larissa Padden  04:10

So I don't know if it's specific to this year, Money20/20 offers really good multiple platforms for a company or business to engage or get their message out. So they have an announcement stage. So they make announcements throughout the show. So companies ahead of time can prepare messaging, press releases what they want to say, and you can be chosen to be one of those. You can be a speaker and we can get into kind of that process a little a little later. You can network it's a massive, massive show, you know, with hundreds of press and analysts there thousands of attendees. So, you know, there's always a networking opportunity as well. You can release news on your own around the timing of the schedule, you know, and you can just engage with the press. They're all in the press room. They're all walking the show. So there's there's multiple ways in which you can engage and get your message out there.


Vanja Lakic  05:00

Let's talk a little bit about what it takes to be a panelist. How do you apply for that? How do you get that opportunity?


Larissa Padden  05:08

We get this question a lot, there's no formula for how to get past the process. But I will say, they open the call for speakers early enough, that you have a good amount of time to think about, you know, what your expertise is, what your story is that you want to bring. They also have different storylines that they're pursuing that year that they're highlighting that they feel are important and tied to the fintech industry, currently, and they publish those on their website. So you can kind of align your message to with what they're trying to promote during the show. And then the one thing I always say is, they are way more focused on a relevant story than they are a big name. So they highlight the smallest startups all the way to the biggest banks, you're not going to get on the stage by just being a big name. They're much more interested in highlighting the conversations and bringing value to their audience.


Vanja Lakic  05:59

That certainly gives a lot of hope to just about your companies. Yeah, smaller companies just about all the businesses out there who have a good story and good content to share, tell us some of your biggest takeaways or learnings for next year.


Larissa Padden  06:15

Yeah, one thing I say every year is start earlier, which logistically is not always possible, but you know, the amount of time that you can engage with the press and really target your outreach to them is important. So always having sufficient time for that if we could get more time for it great. And then also, we found this year that there's an opportunity to even further engage with the press in the press lounge in the moment, meaning, you know, there's a lot going on, it's a very big show. So having information handy, so schedules for the different stage printed out, so they could see it a map of the show floor posted in the press lounge, just just really informing them. We're constantly in touch with them via email running up to the show, but there's so much going on for them as well. And they've got their own schedule that, you know, they don't really know all of the events that are being offered and all of the opportunities that they can partake of out the show. So we found that there's really an opportunity to engage more with them day to day in the press lounge and just really arm them with information.


Vanja Lakic  07:16

And for a business who's thinking for the first time to go to Money20/20, what would you suggest to them?


Larissa Padden  07:22

I would suggest take advantage of the press that is there. All attendees that request a press list ahead of the show are able to get one, they can do their own outreach, they can set up the meetings, and that's what the press is there for, you know, obviously, people go to hear the speakers to see the content that's on the show, but it's a major networking and working event for reporters. So I think that, you know, engaging with them, you know, hosting meetings, seeing when you can meet them, not just in the press lounge, but really engaging with the press is a really big opportunity as well. And you know, it all it's always worth thinking of some kind of company announcement, maybe having some news that you can hold for the show and make the announcement whether that be just on the wires around the show, or through Money20/20 there's that opportunity as well. It's kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. There's hundreds of reporters there. So just really thinking about how you can engage with them.


Vanja Lakic  08:13

Events seem to be fully back in person post-pandemic, is it your expectation that we'll see much the same next year? What if anything, might change heading into 2024 that businesses should prepare for?


Larissa Padden  08:25

Yeah, I do think that everything is back post-pandemic, you know, we had to fight the crowds just to get through the hallways, there were a lot of people there. I think that will continue. I think that Money20/20 is, you know, the biggest name in fintech, so that isn't going to change. So I think the show and the brand will continue to grow. Conferences in general, I think are making a comeback. People want to be out there. You know, networking is just not possible to do if you're not face to face with people. And I think that yeah, there'll be more competition, because a lot more shows are coming back year after year to there'll be that. And I think the main thing that I took away from the content on the stage that might change is what fintech is, you know, the fintech of the past maybe isn't what the industry is now, both from what they're pursuing and also the players that make up the space, you know, AI is changing things incredibly rapidly. You know, there's been a shift from consumer focus to back-end-focused processes. So, you know, I think that there's regulation that's always changing the industry. So I think those are kind of the things that are going to change as well from a content standpoint. So it'll be interesting to see what's talked about next year on stage.


Vanja Lakic  09:37

It'll be very interesting to see what's in store next year. Larissa, thank you so much, and hopefully we can talk to you again next year.


Larissa Padden  09:45

Great. Thank you. Thanks for having me..