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Q&A: A Driving Force for Event Marketers

Name: Kimberly Gishler

Title: President and CEO

Organization: CEMAce

Why was Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA) created?

CEMA was created in 1990 by a group of senior event marketers—representing mostly tech brands and agencies—to create a diverse and intimate professional community for event-marketing leaders who could offer unparalleled expertise, unique experiences and comprehensive resources.

CEMA’s headquarters is in Roseville, California, and there are three full-time staff members and a host of member volunteers. We have more than 675 active members, who are a unique combination of senior-level event marketers, CMOs, VPs of events, experiential marketers and the suppliers that support them.

How is CEMA playing an important role in the meetings and events industry?

Our mission is to advance strategic event marketing and marketing communications for senior-level event marketers and industry professionals. CEMA is the eminent professional community for event marketing leaders. We play a vital role in guiding the industry and grooming the next generation of leaders and strategists.

How does CEMA facilitate peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing?

Mutually supportive peer-to-peer sharing is ingrained in our culture. It’s why CEMA exists. The primary way we promote knowledge-sharing is through our events. Our Ask CEMA online platform allows members to ask questions and get answers from top CEMA-member experts.

In what ways do CEMA members engage at your educational and networking events held throughout the country?

We don’t do high-volume “speed-dating” events. We design our educational and network events to be intimate and hands-on. Being able to experience the event, and the people attending, in a close, comfortable and fun setting allows members to really get to know one another. Even at our annual summit, we provide smaller-scale experiential activities that allow our members to spend quality time with each other, sharing their fascinating and enlightening experiences.

How do your events serve as a valued resource for industry education?

Each educational event, local lunch and learn, professional networking reception and behind-the-scenes study tour offers the opportunity to gain experience, ideas and industry knowledge. Our annual CEMA Summit presents world-class practices, interactive marketing strategies, success stories and powerful keynote speakers.

Our members jointly explore the latest and most relevant event-marketing technologies, with case studies on how and why they are being deployed successfully. Further, our curriculum goes beyond event execution to master strategy, event experience and measuring business impact.

What are CEMA Study Tours and why are they important for members?

Our Behind-the-Scenes Study Tours are probably the coolest thing we do. They’re an innovative and intimate way for members to talk directly to peers about challenges and successes of their programs. Essentially, a member organization—be it on the client or venue side—invites a member group to tour the “back of the house” at one of its signature events. There we learn the vision, planning and problem-solving that went into planning the event, and get to see it take place live.

Why did CEMA recently establish a partnership with Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)?

Working with PCMA was on our radar for a few years. The associations have unique and complementary services, so the synergy was there. And some of CEMA’s past board members have been actively involved with PCMA, so there was a familiarity, as well. We’re most excited about the opportunity to collaborate on new research and educational programming, and to expand access to professional networking and knowledge-sharing. We believe the partnership will enhance the experience for PCMA and CEMA members.

What other significant partnerships does CEMA have with events organizations?

We joined the Event Industry Council more than six years ago, which was a real boon because we had been the industry’s best-kept secret. It has been wonderful for CEMA to be part of the council and have a seat at the table. It has definitely expanded our reach.

Going forward, how would you like to see CEMA develop?

We want to continue to grow—intentionally—while maintaining the integrity and sense of community of the association, and advancing a culture of innovation, forward thinking and continuous learning. We also want to ensure we are always meeting the professional growth and networking needs of senior-level event marketers, so we have to stay fresh and serve as a conduit to the latest and best thinking. Lastly, we want to do more with industry data. Our relationship with PCMA will be a big help on that front.

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