The secret to successful partnerships with Andrew Perrott and Anita Howard

Andrew Perrott and Anita Howard talking about partnership
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Episode description

We all know that great events don’t just happen overnight. 

They require collaboration, creativity, and, most importantly, strong partnerships.

In this episode, host Felicia Asiedu is joined by Andrew Perrott, Founder of Chorus Creative Group, and Anita Howard, Strategy Director at ICE (International Corporate Events), to discuss the future of inclusion in events.

They share the fundamentals of collaboration, trust-building, and achieving mutual goals—whether you're managing brand partnerships, coordinating large events, or fostering client relationships.s.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Honesty and straightforward communication are critical in establishing and maintaining successful partnerships.
  • It is vital to have a structured foundation for partnerships, such as detailed marketing activity plans and regular progress meetings, while also allowing space for informal interactions and creative brainstorming.
  • Cultivating a reliable network of partners and collaborators who can be leaned on in critical moments is crucial for success.

Things to listen for:
00:00 Why informal relationships with stakeholders are beneficial in day-to-day operations
05:25 Breaking barriers and embracing technology
06:32 How Anita identifies great partnerships
12:42 The truth to nurturing partnerships
16:13 Protecting your brand and aligning with the right partners
18:31 Honesty and clarity
21:12 Tips on forming good relationships

Meet your host

Felicia Asiedu, Director, Europe Marketing, Cvent

Meet your guest hosts

Andrew Perrott, Founder of Chorus Creative Group

Anita Howard, Strategy Director at ICE (International Corporate Events)

Additional Resources:

Chorus - An award winning live event and creative agency

International Corporate Events - ICE 

Episode Transcript

Andrew Perrott [00:00:00]:

It's as simple as just coming to something very honestly and straightforwardly. I would like to think that anyone I work with would tell you I'm very honest, good, bad, or otherwise, and I'd be a terrible poker player and all that sort of thing. And again, I would like to think that is consistent. That's whether or not it's an internal or with a client or with a partner, whomever. And I think as long as you've got that, as long as you don't have an ulterior motive, and as long as you treat people respectfully and you're very clear about what your expectations are, you can't do much more than that, really. And then the personal side of it takes over.


Alyssa Peltier [00:00:35]:

Great events create great brands, but pulling off an event that engages, excites, and connects audiences, well, that takes a village. And we're that village. My name is Alyssa.


Rachel Andrews [00:00:47]:

I'm Rachel.


Felicia Asiedu [00:00:48]:

And I'm Felicia.


Alyssa Peltier [00:00:49]:

And you are listening to Great Events, the podcast for all event enthusiasts, creators, and innovators in the world of events and marketing.


Felicia Asiedu [00:00:59]:

Hi, everyone. What's been going on in this wide, wide world of events? My name's Felicia, and I'm your host for this week's episode. And I'm so excited about this one. I'm always excited about episodes. I think I'm just an excitable character because this one's all about partnerships. And I don't know if anyone's ever seen me do my talk on will you marry me? When I'm talking about the best way to form partnerships, but I always say you can't just get straight into that. You've got to date people first a little bit, even in the world of business. And I think I've been dating Anita Howard now for long enough that we should get married.


Felicia Asiedu [00:01:32]:

So I'm joined by Anita. Go, Anita. Introduce yourself for us.


Anita Howard [00:01:39]:

Hi there. I love that marriage thing. I think it's necessary. My name is Anita Howard. I'm actually the co-founder of ICE, a community for global event planners.


Felicia Asiedu [00:01:49]:

Fantastic. And I'm also joined. We're joined by Andrew, who's one of your partners. Andrew, we're now dating. This is our first date, so if you could introduce yourself on this date.


Andrew Perrott [00:02:00]:

It's a pleasure. Nice to be on date with you, Felicia. I'm Andrew Perrott. I'm the founder of Chorus Creative Group. We comprise of Chorus, which is a live event creative agency, Scotch Creatives, which is a drinks brand and marketing agency in chorus arts, which specializes in contemporary art exhibitions and events.


Felicia Asiedu [00:02:19]:

Phenomenal. I love seeing the chorus folk out at events. I see Cassidy a lot on panels that I'm on, and Aaron as well, who's just super passionate about what he does. So it's been lovely getting to know some of your team, and now, nice to have you on our podcast. So, thanks for joining us.


Andrew Perrott [00:02:33]:

Fantastic. Well, thank you for having me.


Felicia Asiedu [00:02:35]:

No problem. So, let's get straight into it. When we sort of met before, we were talking about, you know, we got into this conversation, we're going to talk about partnerships and how to create them and all that. And Andrew, you asked a really good question. You said, what do we mean here by partnerships? What are we specifically talking about? And I said, that would be great to define that early on. So, I'm going to throw it straight to you. What do you think we mean? What do you mean when you talk about your partners in a business context?


Andrew Perrott [00:03:01]:

I think it's quite colloquial, it's quite informal these days. And like you, after we had initial chat, so thinking about it, I think the partners, from my perspective, come from all angles and all sides of just day-to-day operation. They may have started as clients, they may have started as suppliers, they may start as stakeholders or other agencies, but I just find, well, certainly in my day to day experience, the roles between stakeholders on a project or in our working life have become so blurred that you end up sort of gravitating towards like minded people and you just find a spark and you realize you've got something mutually in common and it tends to grow very naturally from there, but it's hugely, hugely rewarding and ultimately beneficial.


Felicia Asiedu [00:03:52]:

Yeah, I couldn't agree more. Anita, what do you think to that?


Anita Howard [00:03:55]:

I absolutely agree. It's all about that collaboration piece of actually getting a sector to move forward and actually helping people to move forward. So I think the partnership thing for me is about people actually facilitating what could be great for them as well, which they go into a great partnership. And as Andrew says, it's got great outcomes and obviously commercial outcomes as well. Not just obviously the lovely-dovey bit, but actually things that actually achieve results for people. So, yeah, I just. Partnerships are where life should be happening within the events world because we do it. So sometimes that thing about the them and us situation in partnerships is really wrong.


Anita Howard [00:04:40]:

And I think it's important now in this new world that we live in is the blurring of those are very, we're in it together, let's achieve something.


Felicia Asiedu [00:04:48]:

I think, you know, we've been working together for a long time now, like, five good years. And I think one of the things I've always appreciated about working with you that, you know, like you said, there's a commercial element to our relationship. There's a contract somewhere that gets signed where we get these things that we need, but we also sit there, and we ideate, and we're kind of like, I've had an idea. I've thought about this. I remember one time, you're like dog walking in the park. What do you think? Or cook off for a group of people that just want to come together. And I love that we're able to just chat and think, well, what would be, yes, mutually beneficial for us, but for the audiences that we serve, like, how could we make life good for them as well?


Anita Howard [00:05:25]:

Because I think that thing of breaking down the barriers of society in your personal kids or grandkids or whatever, you see them using technology and platforms and everything else in a different way. And it's the breaking down of those barriers. And I think sometimes in business, we can almost be a bit too formal, and it's trying to make sure that changes for everyone's benefit. I think casting, talking about the glue of everyone, those stars aligning together. And that, to me, is a perfect partnership. And the issue, I suppose, some of us have within the events industry is how do you improve Roi on that and actually basically developing that into something that the business goes, oh, my goodness, this was amazing. If they're still working in quite a traditional, formal way, which we find within our corporate organizations that are members, is actually having the trust that people believe that you're not just going after them because you're trying to get into the likes of PwC is trying to make sure that everyone's breaking down those barriers to build up the best partnership.


Felicia Asiedu [00:06:32]:

And how do you identify them, Andrew, how did you? Well, how did you and Anita start working together? And did you sort of identify all that's good partners work with, or how did that come about?


Andrew Perrott [00:06:41]:

Yes, I think it was, obviously, we were aware of ice, and I think, like all these things, perhaps we started chatting at an event or through a mutual connection, and I think it's. We met and very quickly realized that, a, we had a lot in common, and we thought similarly about the industry, and we saw there being potential for us to connect and partner on whatever project might be. We're very happy to be a member and a supporter of Ice, but equally, it's a two-way street, and Anita is very generous with her time, and it becomes much bigger than a transactional relationship.


Anita Howard [00:07:17]:

You've just had an amazing thing happening with some of your clients where they're going, you're doing this for us, but you can do that for us as well. I think that's what's really interesting that happens with your partnerships, isn't it?


Andrew Perrott [00:07:28]:

For the context of this conversation, partnerships for me personally and everyone I work with, it's very altruistic. We go without any expectation. We partner with people because we like and respect them and we see there being a mutually beneficial reason to be involved. But if you then take that forward to what does that mean potentially beyond just learning more and widening your network is all of our industry? Certainly my business is entirely built on referral. When we work with new clients and new accounts, how are you supposed to go in and try and convince someone that their most important live event in their career to put that trust in your hands if there isn't some personal connection and someone has said to them, these guys know what they're doing, and it's not a facetious way of trying to get to that. But that is the practical output and benefit sometimes is you, you widen your, your group of connections and somebody says you really need to meet so and so because they could do with your advice. That's how simply it comes.


Andrew Perrott [00:08:31]:

And our entire business is built on that because come back to my earlier, but everything is so integrated. I don't think anyone can be an expert in everything, particularly in sort of live event world. And you increasingly lean on your partners and your collaborators more and more and you need that expertise. So I think it just fosters if, if you go in curious and generous and open minded, that's where eventually it pays back. But you go in very genuinely in the first place, I think is most important.


Felicia Asiedu [00:09:02]:

Absolutely love that viewpoint. I think even as I was listening to us, you know, I'm listening to us have a conversation, I'm like, I want to make sure our listeners have something tangible they can take away and, you know, what are we given to them beyond this nice conversation we're having and that viewpoint of trust? And, you know, as an event planner, you are doing some of the largest events with hefty budgets being trusted to prove that Roi. You need to be able to put someone in place and trust that they're going to deliver, you know, even the nuts and bolts of the staging just down to that level, you know, so that you can feel confident that this is done and it's going to work.


Andrew Perrott [00:09:38]:

And there'll be some clients and some brands we work, we may not necessarily do all of their work, but if there's a live broadcast or if there's a moment where it really is on the line, then we do get a phone call because we've been in that situation with them before and that sort of goes down the line in turn. We have specific, we have lighting designers and content creators that we have that relationship as well when we need something to be absolutely on the money. And the brief is a rushed 32nd phone call because it all has to happen story. But you know they're going to get it and you know the first edit is going to be perfect. What value does that have beyond the commercial side? It's just that sense of reassurance and be able to operate quickly. And I suppose that's the tangible output of the start of this conversation. Why even bother trying to connect with people in a collaborative way? Because that's ultimately you end up with a black book of people who will get you out. I joke with my guys, if my phone rings at quarter to six on a Friday afternoon, I take a deep breath and wait for whatever the drama is that's about to come down the line and we go into action and you make something happen.


Felicia Asiedu [00:10:51]:

I love that. I know when to not call you then.


Anita Howard [00:10:56]:

No, I was just going to say that whole thing of actually having a book of people that you can call upon, it's so crucial. And, you know, I can't emphasize enough the things that I hear a lot of our members say. You just go, yeah, that's because you've got connections with each other. Some people, they don't build up that trust network as they develop. And so I think that's really important going forward for anyone walking away from this is go and build your network up. Talk to people. If someone talks about something, let's have a chat about it. Let's do it.


Anita Howard [00:11:30]:

Because that's where the partnerships build up.


Felicia Asiedu [00:11:33]:

So thinking about, like, you know, that supplier relationship versus partner relationship, how do you know when you've tipped the balance from good supplier, great supplier, trusted supplier, into actually know that's a partner?


Anita Howard [00:11:46]:

So my big thing is very important that you have. You start from the beginning of having a partnership that actually has got structure to it and people understand where they stand. And once you get into that, you can then move forward into it becomes, I'm just going to give Felicia a call about something, something that's really important. I think you need to start with a structure piece because everyone needs that. And then basically, once we're all comfortable that we're delivering on what, because it's a two-way street. We do within ICE and marketing activity plan sheet up for our partners, and everyone hates it, and we insist they meet every month with us just to make sure we're all on track for anything. And I think that's really important to usually three months in, we then start believing that everyone's doing the right thing and everyone trusts you, you trust them, and we all go, right. Yes, let's do it.


Anita Howard [00:12:39]:

But I think the structure at the beginning is important. And then friendship.


Felicia Asiedu [00:12:42]:

Yeah, I mean, I know it's really good. When we have, like you say, the tracking sheet, we can follow along. We at least know what the structure of our relationship is. And then you and I can go for coffees every now and again and just make it very friendly, which I just think like, and I know I'm saying it in a funny way, but when we're talking about nurturing these relationships so that they do go beyond just the kind of like that, the structure pieces. What advice can you give to how you nurture a partnership? Andrew, if you were thinking about how do I make it, you know, just continue to work to nurture, I think.


Andrew Perrott [00:13:14]:

It's a bit similar to what Anita was just saying around when it becomes more of a partnership as opposed to just a connection is, I think it's common goals, agreeing when you stop just being sort of friendly and you think, actually there might be a way we could work together on something. And it might. And to give a tangible example, there's a number of peer agencies that we collaborate with and we have different specialties, and we get on very well. And every now and then, we'll get together and think, what projects or brands do we think we could potentially combine on and provide a solution to, and. Or it might be more educational. Again, another agency that might have a real expertise that we don't and vice versa. And then that's more of an internal thing. If you spend the time and you share what you know in a very open way.


Andrew Perrott [00:14:03]:

And I think to come back to the question of how do you nurture or develop that, I think it's being really open about what's the objective. So if people start spending time on something, then it's important to respect that. So, you know, it might be, let's combine and see if we can improve our capability on X, Y or Z, and we'll share an amount of time with one another over the next month or three months. But what's the output? What is everyone getting for that? Just so that no one feels like you're constantly being asked of favor? So the natural next step of that open conversation, initially, it's actually, could we put in a monthly meeting? Because what I want to get out of it is X or Y. Are you okay with that? Are you cool with that? And does that work for you? And I think it's just having that. It's like, coming back to your introduction, Felicia, it's, like, dainty.


Felicia Asiedu [00:14:52]:

You're absolutely right. Anita, if you could reveal to us, this is me just asking you to be really honest. Have you ever had any link challenges? You don't have to name the partner, but have you ever had any challenges that you've been like, oh, that's just not working?


Anita Howard [00:15:06]:

Oh, I've had a few along the way, you know, many years ago. The challenge is when that breakdown of structure, then basically familiarity. I can never say that word, comes in and no one's looking at the detail anymore on both sides, you know, sometimes happens. And then basically, I think one of the big things for when this particular relationship broke down is that you have to be honest and go, it's not working. You know, we have a saying that it's only home furnishings. You know, events are very, very stressful and everything else. So I think it's really important that honesty and actually break the tie when you think it isn't working. You know, sometimes you just go, and I know you can't always do that.


Anita Howard [00:15:47]:

Obviously, I'm kind of. I run my own company, so it's easier, but sometimes you just have to be honest and also, it's ruining your. Your brand. You know, if something's gone wrong and no one's joining in together, you know, when there's a problem happening, things happen. It's not perfect all the time. And I think sometimes the best partnerships come out when things haven't gone by and you basically sort them out. And if they don't sort out, then let's call it a day.


Felicia Asiedu [00:16:13]:

I think that's such good advice. I mean, you mentioned the word brand there. A lot of the partnerships that, I mean, I build for our team are because of our brand. And by that, I mean we find brands that align with us, that are working towards those shared goals that you've both spoken about. And so in order for that to bolster your brand, I think you need to protect it and not just continue to do those partnerships because you're friends or because, you know, the lines are getting blurred, and there's that familiarity and all of that, you've got to look after your brand at the end of the day. And that's for both your organization and for your clients who are relying on that trust that we spoke about and all those things that they need so that they can know that you're doing the right thing by them as well. So, yeah, hard advice that we have to sometimes chop that away, get rid of that relationship.


Anita Howard [00:17:03]:

You just go like, no, but, you know, also it's making sure if something has gone wrong, you know, it's not the end of the world. You know, you carry on and everything else, and you don't suddenly drop them like a ton of bricks. Go, no, this partnership's not been good. I'm just out here. I'm out of here. There's been a problem. So, you know, build up that thing again, see if you can get back on the right track with people, because I think often people just wash their hands, go, oh, God, that's a disaster. You know, no one's died.


Anita Howard [00:17:35]:

You know, it's kind of like…


Felicia Asiedu [00:17:37]:

We’re all just running events, people.


Andrew Perrott [00:17:42]:

But it certainly doesn't work out. It doesn't have to be a relationship issue. You recognize it hasn't worked, and you move on, and you respect one another's time, and there's no reason to fall out. Just if something hasn't worked out as you hoped. And the whole spirit of trusting a potential partner is you're trying something often for the first time. So you've got to go into it willing to fail for it, to ever actually having any chance to succeed, really. So it doesn't always, doesn't have to be an awkward circumstance if things don't work out, I think, certainly in my experience, completely agree.


Felicia Asiedu [00:18:19]:

So, on that note, and to try and wrap us up a little bit, what makes you a good partner, Andrew? What makes. Is it? Is it you, or is it Chorus? I don't want to put all the pressure on you.


Andrew Perrott [00:18:31]:

It's as simple as just coming to something very honestly and straightforwardly. I would like to think that anyone I work with would tell you I'm very honest, good, bad, or otherwise, and I'd be a terrible poker player and all that sort of thing. And again, I would like to think that is consistent. That's whether or not it's an internal or with a client or with a partner, whomever. And I think as long as you've got that, as long as you don't have an ulterior motive, and as long as you treat people respectfully, and you're very clear about what your expectations are. You can't do much more than that, really. And then the personal side of it takes over, as you say. Then you develop a friendship, and it runs from there.


Andrew Perrott [00:19:10]:

But I think if you just start as you mean to go on again, the final point there is without any expectation, but whenever I've ever contributed or offered anything to a circumstance, I've always received it back tenfold. So the smallest act of generosity ends up coming back, and that's not a reason to do it, but that's certainly a lovely thing when it happens.


Felicia Asiedu [00:19:32]:

Oh, that's very nice. Oh, that's like our word of the day. I love it.


Andrew Perrott [00:19:39]:

Holiday. We're all in a good mood.


Felicia Asiedu [00:19:42]:

I could wax lyrical here, but what makes you a good partner?


Anita Howard [00:19:46]:

I think the thing of, you know, sharing interest and being excited about things, that sort of makes me, you know, I'm always looking for how to, they think of things differently and then partnering with people that are kind, you know, like that whole kindness piece. I think I feel that, as Andrew said, once you're kind to someone, it makes your day and then you get it backloads in advance. So best thing is just, you know, being lovely, enthusiastic and making sure that it's really great fun to go to work each day.


Felicia Asiedu [00:20:18]:

Oh, love that so much. I think when I think about, you know, the people that we partner with, we've got some, for example, we've got some media partners that, you know, some of that is, like I've said before, transaction or we pay, you put the thing in. We've got others where they're like, we really want to talk about sustainability because it's so important. And they have what you just said, that passion, they've got something in them that's like, this is important. Shall we just talk about it together? Shall we just do an event together? And you're like, yeah, because it's just important. And I love being driven. I think maybe that's me personally. I'm a very passionate person as well.


Felicia Asiedu [00:20:51]:

So when someone comes with that swell of, like, fresh air and passion, it drives me so much. I'm like, yeah, let's do it. I'm sure the business doesn't always love it because it's like, where is the commercial value?


Andrew Perrott [00:21:06]:

Yeah, exactly. You're right. You gravitate to those people, don't you? That's natural.


Felicia Asiedu [00:21:12]:

Yeah, definitely. So if we were to just leave people with one piece of advice, let's say, let's give this piece of advice to somebody who's not entirely sure how to even start building partnerships. They're just like, what are you talking about? Who do I start talking to? I can't just pick up the phone, or do I just bump into someone at an event? What would be your piece of advice that you leave someone with to go and form good partnerships? Andrew, we'll start with you.


Andrew Perrott [00:21:36]:

I would say reach out directly. We're all used to direct communication either via LinkedIn or industry events, obviously. ICE Expo, that's where all of the great partners are in the summer. But here in London just this week, we've had the D&AD Festival, the C2 in Montreal. There are so many opportunities now to get together in person with your industry. If you identify what you want to know more about or who you think you'd like to be in touch with, it really is as simple as plucking up the courage and go up and introducing yourself. I really don't think it needs to be more complicated than that.


Felicia Asiedu [00:22:11]:

Agreed. Anita, what have you got?


Anita Howard [00:22:13]:

You've summed that up, I think that's it. And be brave. You know, go for it. You know, have that conversation and reach out to any of us. We've got some great networks, so, you know, just talk to people, and they're always willing to help.


Felicia Asiedu [00:22:26]:

Absolutely fantastic advice. And I think I'll just wrap that last bit up and just say we're all human at the end of the day. And I think that's what great partnerships are built on. Humanity, relationships, you know, and no one is a giant or a king or a queen like you can just go and talk to them. And I think that's something I learned as I got older and, you know, wiser in my career, that we're all humans that have just, you know, got into our roles just because we've got big titles. Say we. Some of you've got big titles. It doesn't makeup.


Anita Howard [00:22:58]:

We, please.


Andrew Perrott [00:23:00]:

Everybody's making it up as they go along.


Felicia Asiedu [00:23:05]:

Brilliant. And on that note, thank you so much for joining us and we'll see you next time.


Alyssa Peltier [00:23:12]:

Thanks for hanging out with us on Great Events, a podcast by Cvent. If you've been enjoying our podcast, make sure to hit that subscribe button so you never miss an episode.


Rachel Andrews [00:23:22]:

And you can help fellow event professionals and marketers just like you discover great events by leaving us a rating on Apple, Spotify or your preferred podcast platform.


Felicia Asiedu [00:23:32]:

Stay connected with us on social media for behind-the-scenes content updates and some extra doses of inspiration.


Rachel Andrews [00:23:39]:

Got a great story or an event to share? We want to hear from you. Find us on LinkedIn, send us a DM or drop us a note at greatevents@cvent.com.


Felicia Asiedu [00:23:48]:

Big thanks to our amazing listeners, our guest speakers, and the incredible team behind the scenes. Remember, every great event begins with great people.


Alyssa Peltier [00:23:58]:

And that's a wrap. Keep creating, keep innovating, and keep joining us as we redefine how to make events great.