“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” So said the great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. While the stakes are considerably lower, the photo industry is nonetheless pondering that very issue with PMA's launch of CliQ.
To hear PMA's Executive Director Ted Fox and Publisher Gary Pageau, tell it, CliQ is an ambitious effort to court a booming population of photo enthusiasts, while simultaneously staying true to the core functions of the organization. It entails a new website—CliQWorld.com—to serve as an around -he-clock portal to the photo enthusiast community and a rebranded PMA Show (called CliQ 2011) that will offer an expanded program of activities, seminars and interactive zones on the show floor tailored to advanced amateurs.
“We've done two major consumer research studies on the rise of the amateur and we found unprecedented enthusiasm toward the photo category,” Fox noted. “We felt those consumers in particular are starving for as much information as possible to take their photography further and that this was a market need that we could address.”
The transformation is not a matter of PMA—the organization and its eponymous trade show—shifting focus so much as expanding and enhancing its focus, Fox said. “It's not an 'either/or' strategy.”
The public face of much of PMA's efforts will be the CliQWorld website, where enthusiasts can gather “24/7” to get tips and photographic inspiration. The site's purpose is to not only educate photographers but to provide them with links back to their local imaging market, Fox said. Additional functionality is being added to CliQWorld on a rolling basis. As it does, Pageau said, it will begin to offer relevant information to give the enthusiast that local connection.
“If someone is researching Photoshop tips, they could discover that they're local retailer is hosting a class or be alerted to other photo activities in their area,” Pageau said.
Over the longer term, the site could offer “Groupon-like” functions where a critical mass of local enthusiasts can earn discounts on local photo events or products from PMA members through the CliQ World site, Fox said.
A Really Big Show
The PMA Show—now retitled CliQ—will offer new interactive zones, which can be sponsored by manufacturers or produced by the organization itself. These zones, which include a shooting, mobile, software tutorial, innovation, 3D and video, will be dual purpose, Fox explained. They will be oriented to the industry during the exhibition (September 8-10) and will then be tailored to enthusiasts when CliQ opens its doors to the public on September 11.
Making photo enthusiasts welcome will be a major theme of the show, Pageau said, with photo safaris and guest speakers sprinkled throughout the event.
To bolster the enthusiast push, PMA has also been reaching out to a number of groups and associations to coordinate events with CliQ 2011. The Nikonians, for instance, will be hosting 'photo walks' during the show and Photoshop World, which is in Las Vegas just prior to the start of CliQ, will participate in cross promotional marketing as well, Pageau said.
Buying groups will also get in on fun. The Photographic Research Organization (PRO) will host a buying event to coincide with the show and Independent Photo Imagers (IPI) will offer rebates for its members to incentivize attendance. “I believe the overall focus of the CliQ effort is correct—there have been an awful lot of changes in the industry in the last few years and it makes sense that those are reflected in the show,” said Brent Bowyer, Executive Director, IPI. “Change is always good in an environment as dynamic as our industry,” he added.
“One thing we've heard from retailers is interest in bringing some of their customers to the show, so we're looking at programs to support that as well,” Pageau said.
But Fox hastens to add that industry attendees won't see radical changes that would compromise the organization's other missions. “From a trade perspective, the programming will continue to be what people have come to expect, we're not abandoning the traditional segment by any means. In fact, we hope CliQ will bring those segments to the attention of enthusiasts and drive more business.”
That would certainly be change in the right direction.