Kirsty Fields has over 20 years experience in the event management business. She has coordinated everything from kids’ events to national sports games. As an eager student of modern digital and promotional techniques, she has expanded her business into new areas of marketing expertise to offer her clients. She offers many types of workshops to help train companies in social media, digital marketing and branding, and can provide training to accommodate anyone.
YMag caught up with her to interview her for their issue featuring their Female Thought Leaders of 2019.
Below is the full unpublished interview with Kirsty Fields.
YMag – When did you start your business?
KF – My business evolved after a friend contacted me to ask if I could assist the professional teaching association she volunteered for, with their state-wide conference management. That was in February 2017. I was in shock after losing my job as a marketing manager at a private college which came from government changes in tertiary education fees. It was a pretty messy situation and I was still processing it all. At the same time, my husband was in the middle of negotiations for a job in Texas, USA – so I wasn’t actively job hunting. The thought of taking up a job when we were thinking of leaving the country didn’t sit well with me.
Assisting with conference management required me to have my own ABN and as a result of that process, my business was launched. I knew that there would be the inclusion of social media in my business after years of using it for business purposes, though it was quite unclear what it would look like. That was how Social Ocean started.
YMag – Why did you add events and social media services?
KF – Prior to my marketing management role I was a relations manager at the largest rugby league club in Queensland for eight years. I’d helped initiate, build and manage their digital and social media accounts to communicate with our National followers as well as players and families. Our platforms became integral in communicating with them about events on and off the field, weather, and so much more.
We tried out a variety of digital communication points to serve our fans and stakeholders. As a volunteer-based community however, it was easy for us to identify their potential as a marketing tool.
I was using Facebook from when it first launched, it became second nature to me. I had MySpace and various other accounts in my uni days, but nothing for business. Using Facebook specifically as a business tool was certainly not the intention or initial design.
I feel in love with the ability to ‘meet’ and reach others online with social media. But more than that, it because a way for me to sell tickets to events, invite people to support philanthropic activities and move them emotionally.
One year, I’d sold hundreds of tickets to a national rugby league game that had an extreme weather forecast. We had to scrap the event entirely as we weren’t able to bus the teams in due to flooding. Thanks to social media, we contacted thousands of fans preparing to travel through extreme conditions to watch their teams play. In less than 90 minutes, we’d been able to spread the word at three various levels of the game along with multiple other partnering sites who rallied to get the word out. It’s unfathomable to think just how many people will see your message.
It’s this passion and realisation of it’s power to assist business owners relay their message online, that meant I just had to have social media as a focus in my business.
Social media is also a key tool in Events Marketing. If you’re running an event – regardless of where, when or why – you must have an online presence for that event even if the event has no charge.
The events side of my business itself has been something that’s come naturally to me. I started managing events in the late 1990s and, with through career changes, my events experience also put me in a position to assist my employers along the way.
YMag – It sounds like you’ve been involved with lots of different event experiences, what are some of the most memorable ones?
KF – In 2016 I worked with the Queensland Police Service to launch a public campaign at a local sporting event. On the day we had police puppies, horses and the highway patrol cars all kitted out – combined with State Ministers, the Police Commissioner and various other government officials. It was a memorable occassion.
I enjoy providing clients with a different perspective. One of my client’s seminars are always held at a local pub, so guests can have a steak lunch with jugs of beer, allowing them to network more casually. Another client now has a successful trade component to their quarterly confrences, which has increased their revenue and built ongoing professional partnerships.
EVERY ONE OF MY CLIENT’S SUCCESSES IS MY SUCCESS – Kirsty Fields
YMag – Tell us about your workshops. What kind of programs do you offer?
KF – There’s different formats to my workshops, depending on the audience. I could be in a room full of managers from a franchise or particular industry or speaking at networking groups or conferences.
I run small group workshops a couple of times a year on various topics of social media and event planning. At the moment my most popular workshop topic is Content Creation. It’s where we sit in a quiet space and extract the business information from within you to recognise your original detailed content, ready to present online.
This year Canva, Instagram and LinkedIn are really popular too. Business owners are realising there are special techniques – hacks even, I love that word – they could understand to amplify their efforts in connecting with or attracting others.
YMag – Who are the people you work with in workshops?
KF – Most workshop attendees are sole traders in start-up and initial building phases of business. Having an intimate group scenario improves their comfort level as well as giving them a new opportunity to connect with their next collaborator or referral partner. Their incomes are yet to support outsourcing, but they are aware of the importance of activity online to create awareness and start new business friendships and collaborations.
I run my own events, just how I’d coordinate conferences, seminars or sales events for clients – bespoke in content and design.
YMag – What makes you passionate about what you do? What’s your Y?
KF – There’s something deep-seated in me about showing others that they don’t have to be rich financially to be rich in knowledge.
Further from that though you can have lots of knowledge, but I don’t believe everyone needs to “know it all”. I want to share with others what knowledge will be helpful to them, to make a difference in their businesses to help them succeed instead of overwhelming them with #allthethings. Let’s use what we need – not just what’s hot for a minute.
Every one of my client’s success, is my success.
There’s also something special about looking at the faces of those people who are attending events. They are there to inspire, educate and motivate themselves.
Corporate events can be different than coordinating “fun events” like weddings, engagement parties or 21st birthday parties. There’s almost always a strong educational element with workshops, seminars, trade expos and retreats. Though I attend a lot of events I always learn something new.
With my own events, I set a target for my delegates and guests to have more then one “light bulb moment”. I call it a “light bulb moment” because you see in the faces of these people when it happens – their eyes becomes wider and brighter, and it’s often joined by a smile. It’s a physical identifier to me that we’ve hit the mark – and it’s a priceless moment to me!
Plans for the Future…
My goals for the future are based on what I’ve learnt as a business owner. The first year was tough and I certainly couldn’t have survived without a second income in the house, but it taught me how to build a professional audience of my own, establish a referral network, connect with like-minded peers collaboratively and build a business from $1000. for 2019/2020, I’d like to show others how having a few dollars can create maximum impact and generate what success means to you.
My immediate goals as one of the 100 Small Business Digital Champions businesses from around Australia is to kickstart two online programs. One will support businesses with social media, and the other will support those looking to build their business using events. Social Ocean will be undergoing a digital transformation to support these programs and allow me to reach a national audience.
I don’t think I’m prepared to become an author – working with social media is always changing – so, by the time I published something, it’d be out of date. However, I have template booklets in the works. These are perfect for time-poor business owners who struggle to put time aside at the computer to plan their content.
It feels like a distant dream still, but I’d like the template booklets to lead into a social media planner for marketers, social media managers and business owners. There just isn’t one that combines social media with a great diary – it’s something I find myself searching for every November and December without success. I’d love to hear from other business owners if that’s something they feel would be useful.
An edited version of this interview was published in Issue 09 of YMag (July 2019).