Nell May: When you joined in January, what for you were the most unexpected things that you discovered about The Atlantic? What was surprising to you?
Candace Montgomery: I think that one of the things that stood out was the use of the word Atlantic-y, and fully understanding what that means. I heard it a lot when I started, but it wasn’t until maybe I was a month and a half in, listening to a presentation by our marketing team, when the definition was crystallized for me.
Additionally, the people that work here embody the brand tenants in an incredibly thoughtful way. From how we workshop ideas, develop plans, or execute on strategy, we do our best to deliver against the spirit of generosity, force of ideas, and to provide a sense of belonging. The goal is progress, always.
This is a place where we collect ideas, then we poke holes in them; we like to brainstorm and talk through things to make sure that it really makes sense. Does it really speak to The Atlantic and to our audience? No idea is bad.
May: When you think about applying that specifically to an event framework, or an event vision, what makes an event feel Atlantic-y?
Montgomery: At the core of our event strategy is our unique ability to illuminate and uncover ideas by some of today’s foremost thought leaders. We provide a platform for discourse and conversation about topics that matter most.
Our partners also come to us because our events are extensions of our unparalleled journalism brought to life. They want to align with our audience and our stories.
May: When you think about the next year, where do you see AtlanticLIVE going? Do you have a vision for what you want it to look like in 2022, especially as we move back to having more live events?
Montgomery: I get this question a lot, and what I will say is that I don’t see virtual going away. It’s the ultimate complement to our future and the growth of our business. However, the things that people love about coming to a live event—like having one-to-one conversations on the rim of an event, meeting new people IRL, or the downbeat of the drums from live music—these things won’t go away either.
So I think what we’ll see in 2022—in the absence of not revealing too much of our strategy upfront—we will see both of them coexisting together. You may see hybrid, you may see virtual only, you may see live only. But we will always focus on the audience and make sure the content brings our editorial to life. We are always going to be growing and evolving our business. I don’t do stagnant.
May: From a programming content and brand perspective, how do you imagine the LIVE brand evolving?
Montgomery: I see the LIVE brand evolving in a way where we not only are known for our ability to deliver our journalism in 3-D across format, but we will also think through how we expand our approach to revenue, our position as a thought leader in the B2B space. We will continue to be thoughtful about convening with intention a diverse set of people and topics that advance our editorial. More importantly, whatever we bring to market, I see the AtlanticLIVE muscle-flexing in a way that drives the experience and brand forward. I want us to be louder and definitely known for the can’t-miss experiences.
May: Which client integrations and client activation opportunities have you been really excited about?
Montgomery: I have only been here a short time but really enjoyed the client integrations at our happiness festival. When our partners listen, understand the goals of the initiatives we are trying to put forth, then work with us to deliver a program that aligns perfectly with the audience, everyone wins. The audience also responded favorably to the executions.
May: What makes a good brand partner? It sounds like: really listening.
Montgomery: Yes, really listening and collaborating. And, again, brand partners have objectives. And our responsibility is to take those objectives and look through the lens of our audience and to share back how it will work best—and make suggestions on how we can make it better. Brand partners succeed when they listen to the people they’re working with, who know that audience the best, and work together.
May: I love that. I just have one more question. What has been inspiring you when it comes to this space? From where are you drawing inspiration right now?
Montgomery: I’m drawing inspiration from experiential products. I would love two things: experiential products and actually getting back to experiential design and environments. I think that products are an untapped area for us—thinking about what types of experiential products our audience is interested in and how we can drive community in that way is very interesting to me.