By EHM Editor Jade McKenzie
The first of its kind in Australia, Make Nice is a three day event for creative women to learn from an exclusive lineup of international and homegrown industry vanguards in an intimate un-conference format.
The inaugural Make Nice is on 2 - 4 June, 2016 as a part of Vivid Ideas. Differentiating itself from other conferences, the intimate environment at Make Nice will provide practical advice for working in the creative industries, promote the importance of a thriving and supportive professional ecology, and foster ongoing dialogue for the continued exchange of ideas.
Make Nice is as much about sharing knowledge between pioneering creative women during round-table discussions and practical presentations, as it is about forming valuable and genuine relationships with other attendees during programmed social events. We love that the event is about conversation so we spoke to co-Founder, Ngaio Parr, about everything Make Nice!
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! We would love to hear about the Make Nice Un-Conference and the how the idea was born?
My Co-Director Alex and I both returned to Australia after studying and working as creatives in the United States for a while, and found it very difficult to feel supported, particularly by other women in the creative industries. The support networks and friends we had made in a matter of months in America took years to cultivate in Australia.
There was a generosity of knowledge and network sharing in America that we felt was lacking here. It is great to be competitive, dedicated and have drive, but not when it runs the risk of disadvantaging an industry from growing collectively or keeping other women down. We wanted to create something for women who are doing well - but perhaps working freelance, or working in a studio with few female role models, to connect with other creatives. In their own field and beyond.
We love that you are taking a different approach to a more traditional conference schedule, what steps have you taken to ensure dynamic and extraordinary experience for guests?
Make Nice caters for women who have some experience under their belt - so they have opinions and ideas that we want to hear about. We wanted to build an un-conference format to help facilitate this exchange at all levels (emphasis on the exchange). It encourages people to get to know who else is in the room and is far less passive than traditional conferences.
Essentially, an un-conference style event is an informal exchange of information and ideas between participants. We have a amazing lineup of presenters and panelists, but we also know that the attendees in the room have a wealth of knowledge and we want to engage with and take advantage of that breadth of knowledge. We want our attendees to feel like they’re an essential part of the event, part of the movement, because they are. Our attendees can expect two days of programming that includes keynote presentations, panels and round-table discussions curated by those in the room. For good measure, we've opted to balance these sessions with plenty of good times too - with opening drinks, breakfast, coffee and tea, and a dinner and dance party included in the ticket price.
What has been your promotion and marketing tactics? Do you find social media campaigns along with mailing lists work hand in hand, or has one been more successful for you?
As an event in its inaugural year with limited exposure, our main priority was spreading the message and ethos of Make Nice as far and wide as possible. This involved using as many tactics including social media (organic and paid), e-marketing via our mailing list, advertising and publicity.
In terms of what’s worked “best”, it depends on your definition of the word. We’ve successfully grown our e-news database by 300% and consistently receive open rates of over 60% - well above the industry average of 30%. Although our database is on the smaller side compared to other organisations, the quality of people who follow us are 100% on brand and keen to hear from us.
Likewise, our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) have all grown at a strong rate and continue to rise as we grow closer to Make Nice. Since January, Facebook has grown from 109 to 626 likes, Twitter from 54 to 182 followers and Instagram from 161 to 991 followers. Our decision to boost certain posts worked in our favour as they reached a total of 20,000 people.
You have some amazing Partners and Sponsors on board, supporting the event. How did you go about approaching organisations and companies that reflect what the event values are all about?
It was really important to us that we ‘walked the walk’ and only partnered with companies and sponsors that truly believed in women. We’ve made sure to not only curate an amazing group of women to present, but have made sure that we are also collaborating with women in every aspect of the event. We have amazing women-run Flour and Stone and Love Soup providing our food, Two Birds Brewing to cheer for our beer (the first female-owned and run brewery in Australia), women-led Cake Wines bringing the wine, and an all women team in the Make Nice studio. Partnering with companies that are owned by or championed by women makes our hearts happy.
The Make Nice Un-Conference is a part of the Vivid Ideas 2016 Program, do have any plans to branch out into other cities in the future?
We’ve been blown away by requests from women all around the world asking us to bring Make Nice to them in London, Los Angeles, Japan, and Pakistan! Of course we’d love to do all of it, though it does make us a little dizzy thinking of all the additional work involved. We’re also dreaming of presenting Make Nice in conjunction with a festival like SXSW in Austin - it would be a fantastic way to pull interesting women together to discuss the collective experiences we have.
Check out Make Nice and buy your ticket HERE!
All images courtesy of Make Nice Un-Conference