Ruth Hirst, Women Leading Technology Entrepreneur

Ruth Hirst, Women Leading Technology Entrepreneur/Founder of 2023, reveals insights for re-imagining brand events embracing cutting edge technology.

Ruth Hirst, co-Director of Synergy Effect, was named a winner of the 2023 Women Leading Technology Awards presented by Atlassian for Entrepreneur/Founder.

Here, Ruth provides insights into how she found opportunity in potential business disaster, completely deconstructing the traditional event models that had dominated her industry – event management – for the last 70 years, to create new business opportunities and award-winning experiences for the needs of today, for their clients and ALL their people.

When the COVID-19 pandemic saw borders close, work forces disperse and social distancing come into play, revenue for traditional events and conferences evaporated overnight and the outlook was dismal. At Synergy Effect, Ruth Hirst inspired her team to use the opportunity to re-imagine the delivery of events and brand strategy and education in online spaces.


Ruth Hirst said: “When we shifted our focus to online events, we didn’t do this thinking ‘this is just for the pandemic’; we did this with the vision to create a new sustainable and inclusive approach to future forward events. Our vision was – and is - driven by a focus to reach a far greater audience returning greater ROI, sustainability and inclusivity underpinned by cutting edge technology.”


Did you know?

The carbon footprint of the traditional event industry is in line with the greenhouse gas emissions of the entire United States, responsible for more than 10% of global CO2. Online events have the potential to reduce this environmental cost by 95%. We are not saying don’t have your events face-to-face, but more expand your thinking out of just traditional to include hybrid/online in your marketing strategy.


Traditional events are, by definition, exclusive – due to the economics of flying everyone to one place, multi-night accommodation, multi-meal food, beverage and entertainment – not everyone can afford to attend and only a select team might be sent, rather than the whole company. With online and hybrid, you can invite your entire regional or international team. 


Quality, interactive, cost-effective and no borders.

“We began to create immersive and experiential online branded spaces for our clients to hold their events – which could either be completely online, or expanded to multi-site venues located in key towns and cities where their people were located,” Ruth explained.


The biggest challenge Ruth and her team faced was how to make high end content, which historically required sophisticated production studios and large experienced crews affordable for corporate event budgets.


“Using cutting edge technology and redesigned approaches, we have streamlined content production processes, meaning that now high value event and conference content is within reach of any organisation at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention, a whole world of speaker options has opened to planners because no one has to travel; ALL your people can attend and contribute in revamped session types, no matter where they are; plus, your events can run closer to carbon-neutral and enhance the sustainability of your business.”

Synergy Effect’s simultaneous multi-site hybrid event model, the online solution, was born.


Re-imagining events…

In late 2019, Ruth and her team at Synergy Effect were in planning for a five-city roadshow across Australia and New Zealand, then COVID-19 happened. A total of 250-400 guests were expected to attend across all events and the challenge was to quickly move the series online while ensuring top-quality brand impact, enhanced speaker interactivity and an immersive audience experience akin to what guests would experience in-person.


The result? Over 1000 guests attended, more than doubling the reach for a reduced budget.

“The feedback on this road show was incredible, guests reported the experience exceeded expectations and was the same or better than an in-person event, they got to engage with the speaker more than they would at traditional events. Our client added two extra events to the series to capture industry interest and appointed us to create additional online and hybrid events in 2020 and 2021,” said Ruth. Click here to read this case study


No need to fly for a National Conference…

In 2021, with border closures ongoing and travel still limited, a building industry client remained committed to bringing its nationally dispersed people together for a National Conference and Awards Night.


Ruth and her team proposed simultaneous face to face events in key capital cities, linking each venue with the speakers, presentations and interactive social and participation methods so everyone was part of the same experience. Sessions took several formats including a mix of live and pre-recorded seminars, panel discussions and VIP speakers. Pre-recorded content featured people across the business – factory floor, manufacturing plant, line managers, middle-management – recorded in real-world manufacturing and building industry environments. Live speakers were on-stage in one location and beamed simultaneously to national state audiences. Plus, international keynote speakers were brought in live from USA.


“Every venue had a local host, invited to contribute during sessions, live crosses to each venue took place throughout the program and guests were able to constantly engage and participate through the dedicated event app,” said Ruth.


The result? Over 400 staff joined the hybrid multi-site conference and awards night celebrations. “This was the most inclusive National Conference our client had held, both through staff attendance and the opportunity to capture and showcase content presented by so many different people in the company,” added Ruth. Click here to read this case study


An award-winning approach…

In late 2022, Synergy Effect was named winner of Best National Live or Hybrid Event at the Australian Event Awards for its simultaneous multi-site hybrid event, First Impressions by Galderma – which saw more than 5,000 delegates located in 15 cities across the JPAC region attend four different events over three days, with presentations from 13 international speakers.


“A key innovation of this event was our fully-customisable and branded 360-degree, 3D dynamic set which beamed in remote speakers who were in Nashville & Montreal having live conversations with in-person presenters on stage. In fact, panel sessions were chaired by the speaker in Montreal.  The technology is truly incredible, the presenters themselves could not believe the presence given to them by the solution.” said Ruth.


Looking to the future

“From the moment we leapt into online events, I knew this would be the new cornerstone for Synergy Effect. Our whole team was – and is – so excited and energised by this whole new world of event and immersive brand experiences, that is more inclusive, sustainable, cost-effective, and impactful to businesses than ever before,” said Ruth.


For more  tips on how to make your events more impactful and sustainable, check out Synergy Effect’s blog: https://synergyeffect.com.au/blogs-by-synergy-effect/


Synergy Effect has been crafting captivating meetings, incentives, conferences and events - designed to awake, ignite, connect and reward - for over 30 years. Contact Synergy Effect to start planning your next business event to focus on sustainability and inclusivity www.synergyeffect.com.au 



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