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Event orchestration | 13 November 2019

12 Imaginative Events from The New York Times

Jacob Thomas

Learn how the New York Times hosts amazing events that always keep audiences coming back for more!

The New York Times is one of the most influential newspapers in the world. Since 1851, the Times, as it’s affectionately known, has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes – the most ever – and broken some of the biggest stories in modern history.

But the Times is more than a newspaper. It’s also a world-class event host. Every year the publishing company hosts numerous must-attend gatherings. In this article, we’ll explore 12 imaginative events from the New York Times and identify key takeaways from each.

1. TimesTalks

TimesTalks - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: YouTube

TimesTalks is “The New York Times’s live conversation and performance series that pairs New York Times journalists with the most creative and seminal figures in the fields of film and theater, art, music, literature, innovation, and fashion.” The event series has been held for more than two decades and has featured well-known guests such as Bill Clinton, Stephen Colbert, Denzel Washington, and many, many more.

Key Takeaway: TimesTalks is a great reminder to book interesting speakers for your events. The keyword here is interesting. You don’t need to spend your entire annual events budget to get some big-name celebrity to address your attendees. But you do need to secure speakers that are interesting to your target audience and will provide them with valuable knowledge, an entertaining experience, or both.

2. New Work Summit

New Work Summit - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: Zimbio

This annual event is dedicated to exploring the future of technology and business. The 2019 gathering was held in February and focused on the future of work — especially as it pertains to artificial intelligence (AI). Speakers included Sam Altman, the Co-Founder, and Chairman of Y Combinator; Evan Spiegel, the Co-Founder, and CEO of SnapChat; and Brad Smith, the President of Microsoft. 

Key Takeaway: Consider making technology a focal point of your event. You can do this by discussing the most forward-thinking companies and their latest breakthroughs. Or you can simply invest in event software and let advanced tech run behind the scenes. The path you choose will depend on your business and unique audience. But it’s the 21st century and it’s safe to say that progressive technology will play a major role in just about every industry moving forward. Embrace it!

3. “The Truth is Local” Campaign

The Truth is Local Campaign - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: Ad Age

“The Truth is Local” campaign by The New York Times is an extension of its “The Truth is Worth It” brand activation. In a nutshell, both campaigns seek to show the world how dedicated NYT reporters are to sharing the truth with their audience and why a subscription to the New York Times is crucial to sustaining their efforts. “The Truth is Local” campaign took place in June 2019 when interactive storefronts brought to life NYT headlines in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. As folks visited these interactive storefronts, they were given the opportunity to scan a QR code into their phones and listen to a podcast-like recording which detailed the NYT reporter’s experience reporting the story.

Key Takeaway: “The Truth is Local” campaign gave NYT readers a look behind the curtain and allowed them to see and understand what it takes to deliver the quality stories that we all love. Your company can use this strategy as well. Document your event planning process, from initial idea to full-fledged conference and let your audience come along for the ride. They’ll appreciate the backstage pass and you’ll get plenty of content to help with event marketing. Win!

4. The New York Times Travel Show

The New York Times Travel Show - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: TravelPulse

The New York Times Travel Show is the largest event of its kind. Every year, more than 35,000 attendees, 700 exhibitors from 176 different countries, and nearly 300 travel industry expert speakers descend on the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City to discuss industry trends and showcase the hottest new travel products. It’s the must-attend travel event of the year!

Key Takeaway: Mega-events like The New York Times Travel Show take a lot of resources to pull off every year. The venue must be chosen, the program planned out, keynote speakers, booked, and so much more. It can be overwhelming — even for large organizations like the New York Times. One way to offset financial overwhelm is to secure event sponsors. Just under 30 travel companies support The New York Times Travel Show. Who can your company offer sponsorships to and ease the financial responsibility inherent when hosting conferences, training seminars, and trade expos? Answer that question and you’ll be well on your way to hosting a successful gathering.

5. DealBook Conference

DealBook Conference - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: The New York Times

If you’ve never heard of the DealBook Conference before, it brings “an exceptional group of innovative thinkers and business leaders” to the stage for “a day of riveting discussions with celebrated Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin in the spectacular setting of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room at the Time Warner Center in New York City.” 2019 guests included Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Gwyneth Paltrow, and many more. 

Key Takeaway: In the rush to find great speakers, secure event sponsors, plan exciting conference tracks, and sell as many tickets as possible, choosing the right event venue can get lost in the shuffle. It’s a shame because a spectacular venue can do wonders for your events! The annual DealBook Conference is hosted in the Appel Room at the Lincoln Center and the stunning venue has become as much a part of the event as the lauded celebrities who speak at it. Do your best to find a venue that fits your event and inspires awe in your audience.

6. Higher Ed Leaders Forum

Source: YouTube

The Higher Ed Leaders Forum is designed to inspire and teach professionals in the (you guessed it) higher education space. As campus issues grow more complex every year, leaders at colleges and universities need to be prepared to handle them in satisfactory ways. The Higher Ed Leaders Forum brings together the most influential authorities in the field of higher education to explore solutions to the challenges facing America’s schools.

Key Takeaway: One can’t go out and simply purchase a ticket to The Higher Ed Leaders Forum. The only people who are able to attend this esteemed event are those who are invited. Have you ever considered hosting an invite-only event? Perhaps you should. Invite-only gatherings naturally exclude people. But the folks who receive an invitation will likely be flattered and adopt a higher opinion of your company and its event branding.

7. NYT Winter Olympics AR Initiative

NYT Winter Olympics AR Initiative - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: The Verge

In 2018, one of the biggest world-wide events happened: the Winter Olympics. Naturally, the New York Times wanted in on the fun. But rather than just writing nifty articles about the athletes set to compete — something every other newspaper and news outlet was already doing — NYT took things to another level by releasing a mobile augmented reality (AR) experience. Folks who owned an iPhone and had downloaded the NYT mobile app were able to view 3D models of “figure skater Nathan Chen, speed skater J.R. Celski, ice hockey goalie Alex Rigsby, and snowboarder Anna Gasser overlaid on the real world.” It was a truly amazing display of experiential marketing!

Key Takeaway: Both B2C and B2B event marketing is hard. One way to distinguish your events from the rest of the gatherings in your industry is to raise the stakes. What can you do that’s different — revolutionary, even? Perhaps you utilize an advanced technology like the New York Times did with its Winter Olympics AR Initiative. Maybe you book the best slate of speakers your audience has ever seen. Whatever you do, aim to push boundaries and your attendees will reward you by booking tickets for future events then encouraging their friends and colleagues to do the same.

8. The New York Times Food Festival

The New York Times Food Festival - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: The New York Times

The first-ever New York Times Food Festival was held in 2019. Unsurprisingly, the event was a success and will be back again in 2020. If you attend, prepare to taste incredible food, view live cooking demonstrations, and hear fascinating interviews with professional chefs. The conference is a ton of fun and incredibly informative. What more could you ask for in an event?

Key Takeaway: Most conferences focus on what attendees can see and hear. But if those are the only senses your events focus on, you’re missing out. Look for ways to create multi-sensory experiences for your attendees. For example, you could hire a local chef to craft appetizers and hand them out to guests or make sure each of your conferences features hands-on learning sessions. These “extra” details will go a long way towards making your event memorable.

9. International Luxury Conference

International Luxury Conference - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: The New York Times Company

The International Luxury Conference brought together leadership personnel from some of the world’s most luxurious brands. We’re talking about brands like Lebua Hotels and Resorts, Ralph Lauren, and LVMH. The event was held in Hong Kong and hosted by Vanessa Friedman, the Fashion Director for The New York Times.

Key Takeaway: The International Luxury Conference is full of insightful keynote addresses and training sessions. It also does a great job of prioritizing networking. Yes, people attend conferences to learn. But they also want the opportunity to network with others in their industry and move their careers forward. So make time in your event schedule for attendees to meet and mingle. They’ll appreciate it, guaranteed.

10. New Rules Summit

Source: Twitter

The New Rules Summit was all about diversity. People of all genders, industries, and walks of life were invited to learn from wall-breaking revolutionaries and propose solutions to equality issues plaguing modern workplaces. For those who were unable to make the event but interested in the topics discussed, visit the New Rules Summit website to watch replays.

Key Takeaway: Diversity is more than a buzzword; it’s a fantastic way to conduct business. Use your events to promote equality amongst all people and you’ll be able to host more well-rounded events that cater to the needs of all attendees.

11. Get With the Times

Get With the Times - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: NYT Conferences

Get With the Times is a live conversation series for college students that explores the most provocative and timely issues that students face on a daily basis. If you’re in your late teens or early twenties and want to know how to distinguish good ideas from bad ones, how technology is changing the future of work, or how to build a successful business right out of school, Get With the Times is for you. Every event takes place on a specific college campus but is also broadcast live to watch parties on other college campuses around the country.

Key Takeaway: Get With the Times reminds us that it’s important to host certain events that cater to specific demographics. When brainstorming new corporate event ideas, take a look at all of the people your company serves. Now ask yourself, “How can I help a small segment of them?” Maybe you take the NYT route and craft an event for college-aged students. Perhaps an all women’s gathering is a better fit. Not every conference you host should be catered to a micro subset of your audience, but some of them should be. This event strategy will help your company connect with all of its target audience.

12. NYT All Access Plus

NYT All Access Plus - The New York Times Event MarketingSource: The New York Times

Last but certainly not least, we have NYT All Access Plus, which isn’t so much a specific event as it is a portal to many private events hosted by the New York Times. For a small monthly fee of $10, you can get digital back-stage passes to exclusive interviews, museum tours, and more. Subscribers also get access to NYT articles, crossword puzzles, and the cooking recipe archive.

Key Takeaway: Live, in-person events aren’t going anywhere. But digital, online events are growing in popularity and provide a fantastic way to boost event ROI. When you host a digital gathering you reach more people without having to book a bigger venue, fly speakers in from all over the world, or deal with setup and teardown. It’s definitely one of our favorite event types and should definitely be something you consider.

Main Takeaways: Host an NYT Worthy Event

When it comes to corporate event management, the New York Times is a shining example of how to host amazing gatherings. Here are the main takeaways you can use to improve your own conferences, training seminars, and trade expos:

  1. Get the Main Details Right: The New York Times does a great job of booking quality speakers, venues, and sponsors as well as crafting content around audience interests. If the speakers, venue, and content aren’t top-notch at your events, they’ll fail.
  2. Always Put Your Audience First: What do they want to learn about or experience? How can you cater to all of them, even the minorities and underserved demographics? Answer these questions and your events will be successful.
  3. Embrace New Technology: AI, VR, and other new technologies aren’t going anywhere. Do yourself a favor and jump on the bandwagon now. If you don’t you’ll fall behind your competitors and produce subpar events.

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