Podcast

Helen Bassett: The Power of a Story


Skift Take

Helen Bassett, senior vice president of Live and Events for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, understands the impact of a good story.

Studying journalism while at university in the UK has impacted Helen Bassett, senior vice president of Live and Events for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.

“I’ve always loved a good story and have spent much of my career at magazines and local newspapers,” she explains.

When we chatted, final details were underway for the sixth iteration of the Future of Everything Festival, an event where industries, innovators, and ideas intersect. 

This year’s festival at Spring Studios in New York City focuses on key issues around mobility, artificial intelligence, equality, and sustainability.

Working hand-in-hand with the Wall Street Journal’s newsroom helps Bassett and her team identify what and who is making the biggest waves regarding how we live, work, and play. 

It’s three days of concurrent sessions and experiences happening on multiple stages. There is the festival stage, the future stage, and the lab, which is the experiential extension of the festival. “That’s where we bring imagineers, innovators, and companies that are on the verge of making their way into their respective industries,” she explains. A series of events are held throughout New York City in conjunction with the festival. 

This year’s featured speakers include Kelly Blair, CEO of OnlyFans; Lina Khan, Federal Trade Commission chair; Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer; John Mackey, co-founder of Whole Foods; Lidiane Jones, CEO of Bumble; and more. Plus, Elmo will also be on hand. 

Right Place at the Right Time

Bassett laughs as she explains she has benefited from being at the right place and time. When she set out on her career path, she wasn’t familiar with the world of business events. Her first stop was a marketing role at one of the UK’s leading radio stations, where she learned the value of events and their power in connecting audiences. 

Then it was off to Sydney where she took a short hiatus from the media industry, working at more consumer-facing brands and not-for-profits.

An opportunity to head up the events team at Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal led her to pack her bags and move to New York City, where she resides today. 

“Now the role really goes a little bit further than just creating and imagining experiences more toward helping understand the strategic role that live events can play for a business,” she says. 

Sustainability

With a focus on making less of an impact on the environment, it is important to create set pieces for the festival made from sustainable materials that are then donated. For example, last year’s stage backdrop is now a sunshade for a community garden in Brooklyn, and the stage itself is part of the garden. 

Inspiration

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity inspires Bassett. “There are so many brands there activating and telling their story experientially in different ways. And I think it’s so interesting to see what other businesses think is cutting-edge and how they tell their story,” she says. 

Many event planners attend the Future of Everything Festival for inspiration. Many call it a transformation journey from its design to its thought leaders.