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EXPO organizer draws from past work experiences to create show

Behind the scenes: attention to detail insures success

JACKSON — By the time an expected 6,000 business people gather for a two-day extravaganza at the Mississippi Business EXPO 2001, Linda Jacobs will breathe a heavy sign of relief.

While attendees sip coffee at the kickoff breakfast on Wednesday, the veteran event organizer, along with a team of assistants, will have worked around the clock to successfully launch EXPO 2001. To aggressively market and advertise Mississippi Business EXPO 2001, more than 60,000 brochures and 30,000 tickets will have been distributed. A multi-media campaign totaling more than $100,000 worth of promotion will have been targeted to business owners, executives, managers, purchasing agents, accounts executives and office managers.

“We start setting up two days ahead of time to decorate the Trademart, register vendors and guests, set up breakfasts and luncheons,” said Linda Jacobs, the Mississippi Business Journal’s special events director. “But the work actually began as soon as the previous EXPO was over.”

Jacobs joined MBJ in October 1998, with scant time to properly prepare for EXPO 1999, a challenge she enthusiastically embraced. Prior to that, Jacobs spent five years organizing Jubilee Jam, worked as an account executive at WJTV, and also spent time at Malaco Records, where she met countless recording artists, including Dorothy Moore, who will perform at the Mississippi Business Woman of the Year Luncheon.

“All of my experiences have tied in nicely with organizing Mississippi Business EXPO,” Jacobs said. “For example, I had known Dorothy Moore for almost 10 years. She’s a very popular, Grammy-nominated recording artist, and I knew she would be a very welcome addition to EXPO 2001.

“I am so excited about the EXPO. It’s like my baby. But this EXPO — this time of the year — has been exceptionally hectic.”

But Jacobs doesn’t let details interfere with the EXPO. She knows that most of the show’s attendees come from companies with an annual sales volume of more than $1 million. She can quickly tell you that 60% of EXPO attendees want to keep up with new technology, trends and services, and rattles off statistics such as “40% of seminar attendees came because they were invited by an exhibitor and wanted to find out more about the company,” or “the average attendee spends an average of two and a half hours at the EXPO.”

“A lot of creativity goes into producing the EXPO each year,” she said. “To keep from seeming repetitious, I try to present new exhibitors with new products such as Nextel, which arrived in this market only this year, British Airways and others.”

For example, Nextel Partners Inc. of Jackson provides fully integrated digital wireless communication services including digital cellular, text/numeric paging, wireless Internet and Nextel direct connect digital two-way radio — all in a single wireless phone.

“We will be launching service in the Jackson, Meridian and Hattiesburg markets on Jan. 15th,” said Cami Fowler, Nextel spokesperson. “We felt the EXPO would be a great opportunity to introduce our staff and services to this market. Through past involvement with the EXPO, we have found this a great place to get your product exposed to the business community.”

Even though the EXPO is geared to attendees over the age of 18, Jacobs chose to feature the Canton High School Choir in lunchtime festivities at the Top 40 Under 40 Luncheon “not only because they sound great, but because this experience will provide the students with an opportunity to witness company owners, CEOs and a host of professionals, most of whom are under the age of 40. This will definitely be an inspiration to them as they choose universities and make career choices,” Jacobs said.

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About Lynne W. Jeter

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