The Meeting 8 kicks off in Aspen with NEPSA Awards, November issue release party and panel discussions

Comments by Jonathan Glass/

The Meeting 8 kicked off in Aspen Thursday night as industry insiders, athletes, filmmakers, media and snowboard enthusiasts gathered for a full weekend of films, forums, parties, concerts, go-karting, mountain biking and more. With fall in full swing bringing brisk air and a palette of colors across Aspen’s beautiful landscape, everyone in attendance was growing antsy for some snow with winter right around the corner.

Heading up to the sundeck on Ajax | Photo: Jeremy Swanson

Continuing the tradition, The Meeting 8 kicked off with the NEPSA Video Awards. In its 10th year, NEPSA is a local’s favorite that brought in nine short films adhering to one of the following themes: Before AspenFirst Chair or Duct Tape to Diamonds. In front of a sold out crowd each film got a great response from the fans as they watched on in the Wheeler Opera House.

Hosts Travis McLain and Chris Davenport. Photo by Jeremy Swanson.

A packed Wheeler Opera House. Photo by Jeremy Swanson

After the nine movies premiered and a tough deliberation by the judges, the top three winners of the 10th annual NEPSA Awards were announced and are as follows:

Carelli, whose film showcased what it’s like to be a snowcat driver on Aspen Mountain, also took home a $500 Target gift card for winning “Crowd Favorite,” which was based on a text-in vote. You can check out all the NEPSA vidos at youtube.com/aspensnowmass.
Sundeck Party!
After another successful night at NEPSA the crowd gathered at the Silver Queen gondola for a nighttime ride up the the sundeck for cocktails and the premiere of Level 1’s Sunny. As we loaded the gondola security patted us down looking for various types of beverages as there is no glass allowed on the gondola. Lucky for us we are quite creative when it comes to concealing bottles of champagne and had one killer 16 minute ride to the top.

Three lovely ladies enjoying the new issue and plenty of cocktails.

After everyone got tipsy on the sundeck we headed back to down to Escobar were we sent it for our November issue release party with friends and industry folk. We teamed up with Pirate Movie Productions to throw the party of the weekend as everyone packed in to the bar to enjoy Candy Cobra and Gryme Tyme as they sent the party late into the night. After a clutch couple (and by couple we mean at least 10) of bottles the lades (and dudes) took to the stripper pole in the back of the club and put on quite a show. You have to enjoy a good ol’ fashion stripper pole at a club as you never know what will go down when there’s some liquid courage involved. Thanks to everyone who came out to support the second issue of the season.
The next morning was a rough one as we partied late the night before. The fine people at Aspen decided not to start the panel discussions too early in order to give everyone a chance to sleep in and be somewhat coherent the next day. They must have done this before…

While the panel discussions have always been a big draw of The Meeting, this year’s installment generated serious buzz. For the first time, The Meeting tapped many individuals outside of the skiing and snowboarding realm to appear; it was a great opportunity to take some insight from the greater business world at large, and to apply some of that knowledge to our own sport, and to our own jobs. On the docket for the day were three topics of conversation: Content DistributionBranding and How to Grow Your Audience.

The Content Distribution discussion was moderated by photographer Chase Jarvis, and featured panelists Nick Hamilton, Content Manager with Transworld Snowboarding; Danny Grant, General Manager of The Orchard Sports; Brendan Gahan, Director of Social Media at Mekanism and Greg Jacobs, Head of Distribution at Red Bull Media House North America. The group spoke for an hour, touching on some key concepts that people and brands could focus on to effectively distribute content.

Some of the ideas discussed included:

  • -Explore who is relevant to your brand, study how that group consumes content, and target those outlets.
  • -Build a piece of content with the end in mind; know how you’re going to push your message. Avoid the classic case of, “Here’s what we did, now what should we do with it?”
  • -When looking to sell content, or to partner with someone to share your content, be aware of the following: How are you getting paid? Who owns the content? Where is it going? How long is it going to be there? What format is it going to be in? Is it going to be exclusive content? This empowers you to negotiate a deal in the best possible manner.
  • -Everyone wants their content to be viral. There’s no formula for this. Understand your objective. Do you want short-form content that will reach tons of eyeballs, or do you want premium, quality content that will reach less people, but has a lasting effect on those people? There is a depth of engagement to be aware of. Hamilton noted that YouTube recently changed its algorithms, taking into account the length of time people spend viewing a video, and not just the total number of views. This change speaks to the importence of content quality.
  • -When you build something, it’s not done. Much time goes into making something beautiful, and the same amount of time must go into getting that product out into the world.
  • -How do you measure the quality of a piece of content? It’s not always measured in metrics and numbers. Gauge how people are talking about your content. Gauge the sentiment. Are they commenting on your website? Are they sharing the content with their friends?
  • -The importance of timing is huge. There are so many aspects that go into launching a product, or an idea. Without thought as to how to effectively push a message, a great thing can fall flat.
  • -A mistake people and/or brands make is to pay for big shoots and trips, and the content that is produced resides only on their site or on YouTube. For a little more money, that content can be packed into a bigger feature that will live in peoples’ minds for a long time to come. Do people remember a webisode from three years ago? Hardly. Do they remember the movies and big projects from three years ago? Yes, and those projects can continue to make money in the form of royalties.

While these are just a few of the many points discussed, the lasting takeaway from the first panel was that it’s a damn cool time to be in the business of snowsports and action sports. We’re undergoing somewhat of a media renaissance, with an ever-increasing means of pushing messages, and sharing content. Embrace the change.

After a short break, the second panel took to the stage to discuss branding. Panelists included Jill Kinney, Director of Gatorade Branded Entertainment & Influencer Marketing; Greg Lucia, Director of Brand Integration at Saatchi & Saatchi and Scott Mellin, Founder and CEO of Factory Design Labs. The three discussed how brands like Gatorade, Toyota and The North Face work to understand their consumers, and to create authentic messaging that resonates with that audience. Each brand presented unique, and creative ways of approaching the challenge; it was interesting to hear first hand how some of the biggest brands in the world target individuals today.

A lasting takeaway from the panel was how much these brands rely on athletes to push a message. Mellin noted, “Athletes play a critical role because they provide the humanity behind the brand message.” Lucia, who works a great deal with Toyota, also pointed out that Toyota has 16 athlete representatives in total, six of which are action sports athletes. Think action sports is important to Toyota? You bet. The discussion revolved around how these brands leverage the athletes to share brand stories, and to influence purchasing decisions (sometimes years down the road) and to educate and entertain. ‘Twas another eye-opening conversation, indeed.

An hour lunch break segued into the third and final panel discussion, focusing on building an audience. Former Freeskier Publisher and Editor-at-Large, Christopher Jerard, acted as moderator for panelists Chase Jarvis, photographer, director and fine artist; Robert Scoble, one of the web’s most influential gear and technology bloggers; Gary Arndt one of the web’s most influential independent travel writers and Alex Hillinger, an internet sensation with a goal of making positive change in the world, via collaborating with designers, artists, filmmakers, scientists and entrepreneurs.

The group discussed topics including:

  • -Do you want your followers to be treated like an audience, or a part of a community?
  • -Tell stories. Focus first on providing a value to someone, not on your follower count.
  • -Pay attention to others. Like what other people are doing, share their stuff, and they’ll be drawn to you in turn.
  • -Punch through the noise.
  • -Have stamina. Can you fall and get back up? “Can you be relevant for a long [expletive] time?” Not seeing an immediate return on what you’re doing? Don’t give up.
  • -Don’t do dumb stuff to make a buck.
  • -Have negative feedback from someone? Talk to them, don’t ignore them. Appreciate that they’re giving you feedback for a reason.

The lasting takeaway from the third and final panel discussion was, as quoted by Chase Jarvis, “You have to give a shit about something, and then tell the world about it.” Tell a story, know what you’re talking about, and be authentic. Good things are built from passion, and people recognize that passion, and want to engage with that passion.

After leaving the panel discussions and talking with others about the new format I found everyone, myself included, to be super motivated to make what we do even better. Thanks to all the panelist for taking time out of their busy schedules to travel to Aspen (I’m sure they weren’t pissed) and share with us their experiences  successes and failures.

So what does the rest of the weekend entail? You can see the schedule for yourself right here. Films, concerts, group activities and more. We’ll continue to bring you updates throughout the weekend, and for the latest, be sure to stay on top of the hashtag #TheMeeting8 on Twitter and Instagram.

Check out the full gallery below from the past two days at The Meeting 8.

The NEPSA judges hard at work.

Ladies crushing the photobooth

Tim Humphreys chilling with the Keystone ladies

Escobar going off!

Fuck Swag

Beats!

Aspen ladiesl

More Aspen ladies!

Bottle service doesn’t suck…