In the past we’ve explored various motifs that define the events industry. Today, we will introduce something that perhaps will call for many more explorations down the road, and that is the concept of media companies being event producers. The first example we’ll use is the CNBC Delivering Alpha Conference. No particular reason; it’s not the biggest — only about a hundred or so people attend each year — it’s not the most expensive — though at $5,000 a ticket it certainly isn’t cheap — and it’s not the most historied — being only at its 7th Annual production — but it’s a close example that I just happen to know a little bit about, because they post lots of videos on Youtube of guys I like to listen to like Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman and so forth, and they’re based right here in Manhattan, thus far always out of The Pierre.
The Delivering Alpha conference is simple enough in its underlying concept: bring together the biggest and top performing money movers once a year to discuss what’s happening with the world. Simple and solid. Like most other well produced high level conference brands, the folks at Delivering Alpha realizes that to truly delve deep into any industry, you can’t just exclude everyone outside that immediate industry. As we’ve explored in the past with the World Economic Forum, once you get to a certain level of society, the lines begin to blur between business and politics. That’s why in Delivering Alpha, people ranging from Chris Christie to Ted Cruz have spoken and been very well received.
Aside from being a pretty typical conference from a production standpoint, the most important thing I want to explore regarding Delivering Alpha is its relationship with CNBC. NBC as we all know is a media conglomerate that owns many affiliate and subsidiary channels, amongst which its primary business channel is CNBC. As we established before, there are many commonalities between the needs of media production and the needs of conference production. Having the infrastructure of CNBC makes producing a conference like Delivering Alpha much easier than if it had been attempted from scratch by an independent conference producer.
For one, the interviewers and moderators for the conference can be taken straight from the CNBC staff of anchors and reporters and journalists. Jim Cramer, Becky Quick, Scott Wapner and a bunch of the other anchors from CNBC have all hosted the various sessions of Delivering Alpha over the years. While I don’t know all of them by name, I can tell you that all the interviewers and moderators at Delivering Alpha can be googled and traced back to the CNBC anchor staff.
Furthermore, during the day of Delivering Alpha each year, the programming of the CNBC channel gets modified to being the live and exclusive coverage of the conference itself. Not that this necessarily helps with the conference promotion; Delivering Alpha is not invitation only, but the $5,000 ticket does make it an event that usually the same small group of about 100 or so people each year attend with not many newcomers. Anyway, the various levels of infrastructure available at a media company does make it an ideal kind of company to produce a conference.
Another key element that makes it easier for a media company to produce a conference is that they already has an established audience-base who draw a strong brand association between the media company and the contents that it covers. In the case of CNBC and Delivering Alpha, CNBC is already more than well known enough in the television news business to be able to get interviews from top level names in the investments industry. The business model of the CNBC television shows is that these top level people agree to do interviews in order to be watched and regarded as experts by the millions of people tuning in. For the Delivering Alpha conference, it’s simply a matter of taking these top name people and gathering them physically under one roof, making them all an audience of each other.
Like any conference, my belief is that the main reason people pay $5,000 to attend Delivering Alpha is really just to be amongst the other people who pay $5,000 to attend Delivering Alpha. The contents are great, but like any other conference, the contents function just as an excuse to get these people to gather. People like Carl Icahn won’t just show up to a cocktail party, so you gotta use the pretense of having a conference with contents and a hefty ticket price to get him to come. Along these lines, I don’t think conferences produced by media companies are fundamentally any different than all the other conferences in the world. They just have certain advantages.
See you at the next exploration!