7in7 Interview: Celebrating & Managing the Return of Live Events

Deana Ivey is the Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. Ivey has spent the last 12 years branding Nashville, Tennessee as Music City to the world and has been an integral part of growing the city’s tourism efforts into a $4.6 billion industry. Ivey is credited with developing some of the region’s most unique and inspiring events, including “Music City Connection: Heroes Behind the Hits” and Nashville’s blowout July 4th bash.

Ivey’s talent, grit, and expertise are unmatched! We’re thrilled to have her join us for our latest 7in7 interview. She discusses navigating partnerships during the pandemic and hosting the first major public event reopening, the “Let Freedom Sing! Music City July 4th,” where they welcomed record attendance.

Here’s a sneak peek of her 7 insights:

  1. The value of trust

The pandemic reinforced that the trust you build with sponsors will be brought into vivid focus when times are challenging.

  1. More dynamic programming means more engaged sponsors

Rather than focusing on a singular event, Ivey shared how Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp reimagined their events into smaller, more creative engagements that their sponsors could participate in. Events and properties have the opportunity to offer new sponsorship opportunities across a range, rather than just one major annual event.

  1. Don’t let the times get you down

Despite shutting down, Nashville Visitors & Convention Corp worked diligently and proactively to engage with visitors. As a result of those efforts, they are now seeing massive rebound growth and wide-scale positive reception.

  1. Ask yourself: What’s working?

Right now is the ideal time to consider what programs, opportunities and benefits are truly meaningful and valuable to sponsors. Do the work of having conversations with your sponsors to make sure sponsorships are meeting new objectives and see where there are opportunities to evolve together.

  1. New sponsors are emerging

As a result of COVID and newly reimagined programming, events and properties can also explore new prospective sponsors. Consider which sponsors are intriguing to your audience and make new connections to your events.

  1. Sponsors are your backbone

When times get tough, sponsors can be your knight in shining armor —if you’ve done the work. When you build trust, meaningfully communicate and bring authenticity 100% of the time, your sponsors will respond to your call for support.

  1. Flexibility is key

Understand that the work is not over once the contract is signed. Even when it is signed, the sponsorship may evolve in unexpected ways. These moments allow you to connect with your sponsors and collaboratively evaluate what is working and what is not.


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