Such events are meant to be “ambitious” and high level, where matters of gravity are addressed. Smart Communities reflects that summits are “usually reserved for the heads of something”, those who are “decision makers of the highest order”. So “things can get done at the summit” and the term is said to “signal the importance of the issue being discussed. If you have a summit on something, it must be important.”
These points are all evident in the National Summit in Detroit, which is pitching for Obama to attend – to achieve “a goal of identifying policy solutions to deal with the nation’s huge economic challenges.”
“By Day 3 of the summit,” says Tom Dekar, vice chairman of Deloitte, “we hope to have panels of CEOs and cabinet-level people, maybe President Obama himself, engaged in a policy dialogue with several thousand attendees, plus maybe 100,000 more on the Internet.”
Adds Chappell (president of the Detroit Economic Club), “We want to emerge from this with kind of a national declaration of competitiveness, with ideas and a dialogue we can build on year after year.”
If that isn’t grand enough for you, what about a series of summits? Last weekend’s ASEAN summit aims to convene further summits to “mobilize the resources of the Asian community, the International Financial Institutions and the United Nations system to tackle the global economic and financial crisis”.
A summit has significant PR potential as the meeting of Obama and Brown has been somewhat pretentiously described as a summit.
What is the value of these summits? Last Sunday’s EU Summit was termed “the summit you have when you’re not having a summit.” It was “hastily arranged by the current president of the European Union, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. It came just three weeks prior to the regular EU summit scheduled for March 19-20, which itself takes place just two weeks prior to the G-20 meeting, April 2, where President Barack Obama is due to make his international debut. ”
Is this simply the equivalent of job title inflation for meetings? The New York Times reports that the recession is causing a decline in business meetings and professional events as people don’t want to be caught out of the office or spending money unnecessarily.
So if you can’t attend a conference or be seen holding meetings, is a summit the answer? Has the humble meeting simply been given a PR makeover or are summits something more?