‘People, the power of hope’ is an enchanting message, and one that was delivered with heart and passion as part of Bogotá’s bid to bring One Young World, the largest global gathering of youth leaders, to the city in 2017. Made at the time of a new push for a peaceful resolution to Colombia’s long-term conflict, which destabilised the country economically and politically for several decades, the bid process was to act as a kind of catharsis, moving on from the events of the country’s past, restabilising Colombia’s place on the international stage, and inspiring the youth with a new vision for the future.
Telling the story of Colombia’s positive transformation process after the country’s period of crisis with their ‘People: The Power of Hope’ PR campaign, the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau united public and private players in the city to bring the international event to the Colombian capital. Their campaign was ultimately successful: One Young World chose the city as the host destination for their 2017 summit, Bogotá becoming the first Latin American city to host the event.
As recognition for this achievement, the Colombian capital – represented by the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau – received the ICCA Best PR Award 2015 at the 54th ICCA World Congress in Buenos Aires. This, together with the city’s selection as a preliminary member of the BestCities Global Alliance in February 2015, marked the end of a hugely successful year for the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau.
The Best PR Award was delivered by ICCA in association with the International Meetings Review (IMR), and considered strategies that have demonstrated the greatest coverage, visibility, story-telling, brand consistency and creativity in the use of print and web/social media channels. Bogotá’s winning case study still functions as one of the first textbook examples of creating a lasting legacy with association meetings.
‘One Young World Summit Bogotá 2017’, the video created as part of the bid process
The idea behind the campaign and what it aimed to achieve
Bogotá’s bid process for One Young World 2017 shows emphasis upon ‘beyond tourism’ value. Their emotive PR strategy sought not only to strengthen the city’s business tourism offering, but also to leave behind a legacy for Bogotá to build upon.
Situating the campaign within the wider context of Colombia’s positive emergence as a global player after a long period of conflict, the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau set several goals:
- host One Young World in 2017
- demonstrate how destinations can live interesting transformation processes through events, thereby strengthening national support for the events industry,
- And, involve citizens in the bid process itself.
How and why the campaign was successful
To achieve these objectives and send a strong message to international decision makers, Bogotá first made hosting One Young World a collective purpose, heavily involving the local community. Choosing the theme of hope, the Convention Bureau identified local allies who could help build Bogotá’s One Young World movement and legacy. Sandra García, Executive Director of the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau, later identified these allies as being key to the campaign’s success.
‘Easy access’ tools, with a large part played by social media, were used at all stages of creating the movement. Working with their local allies, the Convention Bureau created various ‘communication moments’, both physical and digital, to spread their message. Among developing a striking branding campaign and designing a wristband to act as the symbol of their bid, what worked extremely well was a video made to showcase Colombia’s transformation from – in their words - a ‘failed state in the eyes of the world to an emerging global player.’ Beginning with the transformation story, the video goes on to show Colombia’s links to the international events industry with the help of statistics, before presenting their youth as the country’s future and using this as a springboard to invite One Young World to aid the Colombian transformation process in Bogotá. The video’s final message - giving the younger generation of Colombia a new start - created a connection with both the purpose of the One Young World congress and national pride and emotion.
As a testament to the video’s success, Sandra García remarked in 2015 after the Convention Bureau’s win that people still feel represented when they watch it. The message was hard-hitting and stirred even non-Colombian audiences: James Latham of International Meetings Review said during his post-win interview at ibtm 2015 with García that audience members were in tears when it was played during the Convention Bureau’s presentation at the 54th ICCA Congress.
Social media played an important part in the campaign’s success in activating the local community, helping to spread the video message far beyond what the Convention Bureau originally expected. Its use also helped the wristband to become a well-known symbol of Bogotá’s bid, resulting in regular citizens and famous Colombians posting images of themselves across Twitter and Facebook wearing the band to show their support.
The success of the PR strategy also brought national and international opinion leaders into the conversation, throwing their weight behind the bid process. This led to mentions in national and international media as well as significant endorsement of third-parties like the Council of Bogotá, Colombia Joven, Bogotá Chamber of Commerce and the Direct Tourism Institute. Private sector support was also not far behind.
Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau receives public support for their One Young World bid
Consequently, instead of the campaign leading the community, the community effectively began to lead the campaign.
The legacy the campaign helped to create
Bringing wider benefits to host destinations has long been a goal of the meetings industry. This case is a perfect example of how an association meeting is used as an angle to drive societal progress. By tying it to a successful Public Relations campaign, Bogotá not only won the bid to host the event but also created a lasting legacy of hope, inspiring change for its destination.
The One Young World 2017 summit took place from 4 October to 7 October 2017 in Bogotá. Attracting 1,550 delegates, with 196 countries represented, over 4,199 hotel nights were provided to delegates, volunteers, members of the press and others and 1,350 jobs were generated. One Young World 2017 also received US$18,333,333 in free press and was a trending topic on social media in Bogotá and Colombia during the course of the summit.
The last day of the summit on 7 October, ‘Peace Day’, focused on the Colombia conflict and emphasised how young Colombians were essential to making peace sustainable, involving participants in the conflict from both sides. The day’s programme included local Delegate Speakers from various backgrounds, professions and perspectives. 20% of the young leaders who spoke at the plenary sessions were Colombians, with 214 Colombian young leaders in total attending the event. Some of these participants today have been awarded sponsorships that will help them to continue to develop the transformation projects that helped them earn a place at One Young World 2017.
The opening ceremony of One Young World 2017, Bogotá, Colombia
Local policies were also implemented after the event as a result of the successful dialogue surrounding the future of Colombia. Due to the different workshops that were held with the institutions that supported the event, Bogotá’s local government created a youth policy that has been made part of the city’s development plan, and the event’s advisory board will continue to work together to address problems in the city. It is clear that events in Bogotá are now a tool to foster transformation in the city and the country. Evidently, the event not only provided longer-term economic and political benefits to the city but also took on the message of the Convention Bureau’s PR strategy.
The legacy of the Greater Bogota Convention Bureau’s touching and emotionally-charged PR strategy demonstrates that a drive for economic and cultural development can be successfully done by creating an emotional connection with and involving the local community. The very fact the PR campaign helped to create such a buzz around the greater importance of hosting One Young World, the value of which undoubtedly resonated strongly with people living within as well as beyond Colombia’s borders, taps into the international nature of relationship-building within the events industry and shows the far-reaching impact international meetings can have on host destinations.
Apply for an Incredible Impacts Grant to communicate the value of your association meetings
The Incredible Impacts Programme celebrates the “beyond tourism” value of international association meetings to create a powerful platform to advocate their positive societal impact. A panel of independent judges form the association world will determine which meetings have proven impact to award three grants of USD 7,500 on behalf of BestCities Global Alliance and ICCA.
Nominations should be sent to ICCA’s Director of Association Relations Mrs. Ksenija Polla, CMP by email.
For more information about the Incredible Impacts Programme, please visit: https://www.iccaworld.org/incredibleimpacts.
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