The Ekka: socially savvy or is tradition tapering?

18 Aug 2014

The Royal Exhibition, warmly known as the Ekka, is Queensland’s largest annual event. It is a reflection of Queensland’s diversity, encompassing regional and urban attractions. The first “Royal Show” was held in 1921, when His Majesty King George V signed off on the show to take place. The show runs for 10 days and attracts over half a million visitors.

The Ekka is a crucible of the unique and diverse sub cultures of greater Queensland. Small towns such as Lockyer Valley Regional Council are afforded the opportunity to represent their community at the Ekka.

Numerous traditions contribute to the distinctive atmosphere the Ekka evokes. Some of the beloved traditions Queensland families share year after year include the wood-chop competition, animal shows, Showbag pavilion, produce competitions, fireworks, stunts, laughing clowns at Sideshow Alley and strawberry sundaes.

The Ekka’s commitment on tradition is evident in the re-introduction of the rodeo competition, which is returning this year with a State-of-Origin twist.

The diverse array of activities ensure a good time for everyone, of all ages. Petting zoos and sideshow alley are perfect for little ones, bargain hunters can nab freebies at Government pavilions, foodies can peruse produce pavilions and thrill seekers can watch dangerous stunts.

The Ekka is committed to tradition. In a time where social media presence heavily influences the popularity of any event, should tradition be compromised to adapt to today’s technological demands? Or should its PR remain traditional?

Professor Ulrike Gretzel of The University of Queensland Business School believes it is extremely important for large-scale events to transition their public relations onto a social media platform.

“Consumers talk about events online and the Ekka needs to be a part of conversations and manage them,” she said.

“The social media landscape is diversifying rapidly and no one platform engages all audiences equally.”

The social media network of the Ekka includes an active Twitter Feed, Facebook page, Pinterest, a Blog, and Instagram account.

Though social media engages a large proportion of the younger market, promoting the Ekka for older generations may prove a challenge.

Yet Professor Gretzel believes that a strong social media presence usually translates into traditional media exposure.

“It is important to acknowledge that mainstream media increasingly source their contents from social media.”

Though most attributes of the Ekka is positive, the flu is an unwelcomed yet accepted reality of the event. To track concerns of visitors, social media monitoring may be a good tool to do so, Professor Gretzel says.

“It is important that they are aware of whether consumers are concerned…  The best way to encounter such concerns is to encourage visitors to post about their great experiences.”

The power of social media may present itself as a positive tool for promoting the Ekka. Perhaps its tradition will be redefined in new and innovative ways!