[31 mar 2023]

How To Make An Event That Matters In 2023


Yesterday’s All Conditions Media: Action Inspired client showcase was our best event ever. Here’s how it came together.

Attending a fraction under one billion media events has taught us one thing: they’re a lot like the birthday parties you went to as a five-year-old. It’s the same theme, with the same faces, the same goodie bags, and the same overtly unspoken agreement that, if you’re invited, you’re giving something in return; something wrapped up in jazzy paper / editorial integrity, ideally. We know, because as well as marketing and creative comms experts, we’re a team of former freelance magazine journalists, current public speakers, event commentators, podcast hosts, community leaders, and engaged outdoor enthusiasts, hitting up these RSVPs on an almost weekly basis. Media events, that is. Not birthday parties. That would be one hell of a sugar crash.

We’ve thrown plenty of them, too. From campaign launches and film nights to client showcases and panel talks, we’ve used our exposure to naff events to help us learn how not to do them, and to make ours totally unmissable and unmistakably ACM. And to be quite frank, we get there by putting 15% more effort, cultural awareness, and creativity than everyone else, into key areas.

Our Lake District film night for Arc’teryx – one that started with a giant Wheel Of Fortune, and ended with a rager that went on into the ungodliest of hours – is a prime example. As is yesterday’s Action Inspired client exhibition, which was followed by an evening of stop-in-your-tracks community-focussed talks from leading outdoor industry heads. Impactful media experiences without a single grim marketing speech: we know it’s the right way to do things in 2023.

Fresh from organising, briefing, setting up, working at, and packing down yesterday’s showstopper, Senior Account Directors Lyndsay McLaren and Charley Greening have given us a peek into the process that pieced together such a great experience. They’ve pulled out just five pointers that, with that extra 15%, will help anyone throw an event that actually matters in 2023…


“What’s your theme?” says AD Lyndsay. “This is the very first thing we decide on, way before venues or guestlists. It’s what sets us apart from the rest, and tells us whether an event is worth the investment. It informs every decision we make right up to opening the doors. Other agencies will start with the words ‘press day’ at the heart of their brainstorm, and leave it at that. We bring a wider meaning. We ensure there would still be substance to our media event if we were to strip out the media element.”

Luckily for us, Action Inspired perfectly coincided with our monumental company facelift. With every element of the rebrand centred on the new company mission statement ‘Take Action To Inspire’, it was pretty clear to Lynds and Charley that this would be a great focus for an event with more than just handshakes, jackets, and goodie bags (and a point later proven by the awesome Sabrina Pace-Humphreys of Black Trail Runners, in this lovely post-event IG write-up).

“It was a great theme,” adds Lyndsay. “It not only communicated our own objectives as an agency, but it tempted everyone who came through the door to challenge their own positions, too. It challenged them to see the key points in our event and use them to take their own actions to inspire.”

Charley adds: “It comes back to our deep understanding of how marketing works. Everything is marketing for us, be it our client coverage in magazines, our full production shoots, our social posts, or our media events. And everything in marketing in 2023 has layers. Take a magazine feature. It’s got to be more than ‘Hey, look at this jacket, it’s new, isn’t it a great colour.’ There’s meaning, trends, brand history, human elements, and more to consider. It all matters. We bring this to our approach, because that’s what audiences want in 2023.”


Theme acquired. Now, prove it.

To nail the Take Action To Inspire theme to our event mast, we turned to our extensive network of clients and experts. We knew we had a rare opportunity to use collaboration, rather than competition, to start an important, insightful, and engaging conversation with big names, around big issues.

Action Inspired’s post-showcase panel talk brought together industry leaders from YETI, Vivobarefoot, GORE-TEX, and adidas, and invited them to explore, together, the ways consumers and communities are inspiring brands to take action in the outdoors. It gave our audience that extra 15% we’re famous for.

But our years of experience have shown us that the best words, experience, and creativity should cost money.

“It’s important to compensate for time, effort, and expertise,” says Lyndsay, a public speaker herself, in her capacity as the founder of female skate community, Neighbourhood. “It’s something I, and we, feel passionately about. ‘Exposure’ is not enough, and it’s not good practice. We could all do more to set some industry standards and make this more transparent and equitable. If you want to listen to fresh and diverse perspectives, you need to compensate, and enable, those inspirational voices.”


Here’s a thing we never need to experience again: absolutely anything in a ‘swanky’ Soho private members’ club. A decade or two ago, the intrigue of maybe seeing a Pop Idol runner-up boozing in the safety of The Groucho Club would perhaps be enough to sway an RSVP. If not, a free wallet-incinerating Old Fashioned. Now, when your invitees are more time-strapped than ever, it takes something – and somewhere – extra special to steal a few hours of their time.

“Hosting Action Inspired in a nature reserve offered our guestlist more than just a look at products,” Lynds says. “It promised a quiet moment away from their screens, in a natural green space, in the heart of hectic London. It’s unheard of.”

“With an old agency, I once managed a fashion show with Boiler Room in a church that had no running water, electricity, or toilets,” Charley says, when thinking back to other media events in out-there venues. “I’ve also hiked for an hour into the deepest parts of the Lake District with 10 litres of water on my back. To be fair, in both instances, the events turned out to be amazing. I just check there are at least the essentials for life available at every venue now.”

“As much as we’d love to go totally off-grid,” Lyndsay says, “it’s just not realistic. Camley Street Natural Park was the closest we could get without sacrificing accessibility… and flushing toilets.”


If there’s one factor to invest your energy into in order to win at the above points, it’s relevance. A relevant theme that makes an event timely and unmissable; a relevant location that caters for your RSVP’s modern needs; and a relevant list of guests and talent to ensure your priorities are right in 2023.

“Diversity has become a top priority at events in the last five years. Without diversity in the room, you and your event are irrelevant,” says Lyndsay. “It reinforces our point about paying your speakers. We’ve learned that the most valuable voices are worth paying for. With Charley and I both Senior Account Directors at ACM, and half the leadership team as women, it’s our duty as decision makers to recognise and implement the actions we can take and changes we can make, in an area of outdoor culture that still needs a lot of work.”

Our Women In Adventure film night and panel talk for Arc’teryx at last year’s Kendal Mountain Festival showed our level of commitment to this subject. For us, it was essential to not only consider gender in the speakers at this female-focussed event, but skill, shape, skin colour, ability, heritage, and more. This focus went further than just who stood in the spotlight. It mattered in who we invited to attend, too.


“Your phone will run out of battery at your event,” Charley says. “And you will not have a moment to stop and charge it. Printing your essentials will save some precious bars of power.”

Speaking from 10+ years of experience, Charley’s dossier of key event intel at AI included taxi reference numbers right through to local sandwich shop contacts for staff lunch breaks. But that’s about 0.1% of the Tolstoy-sized briefing literature that went into organising the event.

“It comes down to learning the hard way,” says Lyndsay. “We’ve done hundreds of events between us, and I know first-hand how vulnerable I feel when I don’t have all the tools and information in my head. Yes, of course, being prepared makes the event run smoother for the guest, but it makes it far more enjoyable for the team – in particular junior members – working it. My briefings were, let’s say, quite extensive, and took more hours than I can remember, but I know the more prepared we are the more happy and confident we can be in our abilities. I want the team to have the best time. And if that means making a call sheet with every conceivable contact number, a lengthy social media briefing pulled together with five other members of staff, or a Q&A document that covers every single potential question on the day, then it’s worth it.”

Photos – https://lizseabrook.com/