The next generation takes off

Heading an association is not a bed of roses. But Stefan Rössle, president of Forum Marketing Eventagenturen, and his colleague on the board, Jörg Krauthäuser, continue to radiate optimism after 100 days.

No-nonsense, issues-based work rather than personality cult - Stefan Rössle und Jörg Krauthäuser, both board members of the FME, won't put their names to that. But the "next generation", in office for some 100 days now in a new constellation following the departure of longstanding president Vok Dams, is committed to taking the Forum Marketing Eventagenturen further forward as an association of event specialists. This means, among other things, polishing up its image and standing for strong and self-confident lobbying both internally and externally.
Not that this hasn't been done in the nine years since the association was set up; but times have changed, and with them the expectations of association work. "We can be grateful that Vok Dams fought the FME's corner with such dedication and fervour precisely in its early years. Without a strong personality to the fore, occupying the position we now have in the industry would certainly have been more difficult," his successor as president is certain.
But a change of incumbents often also creates the possibility of departing from trodden paths. The first expression of this change in strategy is a bigger board. Besides Rössle as president it also consists of Jörg Krauthäuser, Peter Texter (Vogelsänger Events), Ralf Domning (kogag)and Gerd Wirtz (face to face), who intend taking work for the association forward as a team.
Of course, all this is driven not purely by altruism and an appetite for extra work, but because an association can only be vibrant if its members are too. And at the moment membership remains flat at around 50. "That's not enough," Rössle is fully aware. "We want to grow, and we must, and we can only do so if we are attractive to our members." Jörg Krauthäuser, who is intent on creating a greater public awareness of the association, would therefore also like to see more controversial debate to introduce fresh impetus into the FME. "The members must become more involved," he demands. "We want them to feel at home and adequately represented." This also implies that they, and potential FME members, know what the association has to offer them in the first place. "Our services are really rather good, but we must make it clearer within the association as well what we are able to provide," Krauthäuser has discovered. Attractive offers such as one free legal consultation per year and member are not something everyone knows about.
So the FME is revving up. Its internal and external communication needs to be dusted down and beefed up. Words are being followed by deeds. For the first time the association will beat its own drum with an image campaign designed and implemented by a "classical" external agency, its web appearance is being revamped, and as from July a new portal aims to generate more traffic on the association website. "The relaunch is intended to provide real utility value for the industry," Rössle says, meaning not only a forum for internal networking, but a platform worth clicking on to for everyone, from agency to freelancer, and most importantly the customer. In an industry long notorious for its rank growth, the FME also perceives itself as the keeper of the grail in terms of the quality of event training. "In three days and a weekend seminar nobody's going to become a ‘qualified event manager'," Rössle says critically of the confusing range of education and training. Establishing recognised training criteria is therefore one of the FME's key missions. "The offers that swamp the market in this area are sadly all too often nothing but rip-offs," Krauthäuser adds. Personally, he would hesitate to recruit anyone with such dubious qualifications. One forum at which the industry can demonstrate how skilfully professionals are able to communicate brand experiences is the presentation of the event award EVA, an industry institution meanwhile. "That the Art Directors Club (ADC) has taken our themes Events and Spatial Communication on board just shows the determination with which the FME has worked to establish events as part of the marketing mix," Rössle is convinced. He does not see any rivalry for EVA or his own association. Like Krauthäuser, he is confident that awards definitely enhance the winners reputation with their customers. "It was a long haul, but now we’ve reached the stage that our clients acknowledge the award's pedigree."
He dismisses the charge that the companies courted so ardently are not present at the award presentation and that little impression is made on them by the "homemade event of the event industry": "There certainly is a difference between the big-budget production of a corporate event or - as at the Eventtag, the trade forum of the marketing event industry - the organisation of a glittering celebration with the help of willing sponsors." He concedes that there is room for improvement, in which the financial aspect is not directly involved. But the president stands by the Event Award which, although constantly up for scrutiny as an important tool, has succeeded nonetheless in establishing itself over the past eight years.

m+a report Nr.3 / 2006 vom 28.04.2006
m+a report vom 28. April 2006