Multimedia connection

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Interop, the trade show and conference, has seen tremendous growth as the information technology market evolves—and it's preparing to enter Brazil in 2008, with China and India shows waiting in the wings. Media Business caught up with Lenny Heymann, general manager of the global event acquired last year by CMP Technology, to talk about growth, the award-winning Web site and what CMP brought to the table.

MB: What developments in the information technology industry are affecting Interop?

Heymann: One of the key things driving growth in the IT industry is interoperability. Our events were founded to help foster interoperability in the network. Today, that founding mission is really relevant to the entire business technology market.

Over the past few years, we've expanded our mission to go beyond the network and include all parts of business technology. We're important to a broader audience, people who are concerned with security, with mobile devices, wireless networks. You can't move forward with business technology unless you take a holistic view. We provide that on the show floor and by extending the conference to cover emerging issues.

MB: Interop has developed an online portfolio that includes video and audio clips, blogs and other collateral. How important is it for trade shows to leverage new media?

Heymann: It's critical. You definitely want to engage folks—allow them to learn about the event beforehand and keep them involved afterward. Let them have access to content and elements that maybe they weren't able to get to on site. And certainly there's a whole audience that doesn't get to the event. Hopefully we can convert those folks to attendees in the future.

MB: How do you gather the content?

Heymann: We have a one-man army [at the show]. He creates video and gets it up quickly, and we enhance that once we leave the site as well. [Before the show], we're doing phone calls and pretty high-level digital recordings, editing them and putting them online. It's not rocket science, but if you get a little momentum behind it, it enlivens the site. It shows that we're using the technology we're talking about, and it lets people learn more quickly and efficiently about the event.

MB: How do you manage the content?

Heymann: We look at the site in terms of where we are in relation to the show. Ahead of the show, we've been using podcasts and video to help prospective attendees learn about what's going to happen on site. When we're promoting the paid conference, we're providing depth in terms of the [educational] tracts. We'll interview exhibitors or instructors. Leading up to the event, we have more of an expo push. We feature the parties, and exhibitors and free content that people can get on site.

While the show is going on, we turn the Web site into a media platform. We incorporate our content and the content of the media covering the event. Afterward, it's what was the buzz on site. That's the great thing about the Web, you can change it to suit your requirements.

MB: How does CMP's leveraging of online and face-to-face brands affect Interop?

Heymann: It's great to be part of a marketing machine. We can work with other parts of the sales effort to create packages and solutions for particular vendors. We're able to put together solutions across those platforms. A lot of what we're going to see in the future is a combination of marketing face-to-face and online. Print is not vanishing, but it's not in the lead role today.

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