C-Suite Conversations: An Interview with Mykel Nahorniak, Co-Founder and CEO, Localist

Article ImageWhen are a Grateful Dead-inspired ringing of Cornell University’s chimes, a flamenco show in downtown Portland, and a tai-chi class at New York Presbyterian Hospital considered “digital” content? According to Mykel Nahorniak, co-founder and CEO of Localist, an interactive online calendaring platform, it’s when the host organizations use their online event calendars as a means to capture, analyze, and grow audience engagement.

“Events are authentic content,” says Nahorniak. “For companies, they’re about going out to where your audience already is, in a way that serves the brand.” Nahorniak co-founded the company in 2008, citing frustration about how he would hear about big events only after they were over. Localist’s goal is to make events more easily discoverable online from the perspective of the audience, not the website admin.

“Publishers spend a ton of time and money on website, blogs, and social media content,” he says. “But almost invariably, event calendars are done as a complete afterthought on a website, slapped up with name, date, and location.” Localist sees in-person events as high-quality audience engagement, building engagement, brand awareness, and loyalty. Beyond that, “Connecting in real life leads to more empathy and compassion,” says Nahorniak, “and that’s something we need more of, especially right now.”

Trends He’s Watching

Nahorniak believes the Internet of Things (IoT), along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, can offer new insights into audience behavior before, during, and after events. He says, “How are audience members learning about events, and where are they buying their tickets? During an event, the only anecdotal feedback speakers get is applause. But the IoT could give us the ability to measure audience sentiment in real time.” Afterward, that analytical view of events can help publishers improve event planning and garner sponsorships and advertisers, all while building audience loyalty.

Challenges He Faces

“Ninety-nine percent of our conversations are to teach how events can build a brand,” says Nahorniak. He points out that most of the company’s clients already have a calendar and think that Localist will work similar to how a CMS does for content. “But we take a step back and talk with them about how to use event content to magnify the brand. The event calendar can become the entry point to the rest of the brand.”

Dreaming Big

“I’d like to make organizations realize the power of event content. There’s a lot of emphasis on digital engagement because it’s cheaper and scalable. If organizations could recognize social media’s limitations and supplement them with old-fashioned face-to-face engagement, they’d have a powerful pulse on their community.”

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