@ClareB you made very happy and sad at the same time :). Happy because somebody finally uses the concept of context and sad because you have had bad experiences with photographers.
This conversation can go on for a long time, and to be honest I do not have the secret potion. I have worked with RedBull for quite a bit in the past, and if anybody wants to know the secret of its success is 'context' taken to the extreme.
We are building The Book of Splento, which will include among others a long lesson for photographers in context and a How to Write a Brief, for our customers. I will let you know when we have something tangible (very soon hopefully).
Getting back to 'context' in images, I think there are two main problems here:
It's a team problem. Usually, people put the whole burden of this on one individual. This can be the event manager, the event stylist/creative director (we can use any name here), the AV company or the photographer/photography company. This is wrong. Because 'context' is a team job. If anybody does a bad job, there is no context
There is a lot of context in contextual images (please excuse the punt). In trying to answer your question better, the first question(s) that needs to be answered is: what do you need the pictures for Sponsors? Future Sponsors? Social media? Photographers Portfolio? Annual Review? Attendees? Case Study? Stock? Press? Suppliers? Venue? Win Awards? Put them on a Wall in the Office? Outdoor Advertising? TV Roll?
The funny bit is that there is no correct answer. But if you look at different positions in the event industry, they all have a definite answer, or in the best case scenario, a priority based on personal preferences, not a realistic overview of the project.
Now, because I have probably bored everybody here, I will finish with a question: what is your desired RoI from still images? And when, or if, you answer that question, don't start with 'I want' but with 'We need'
The second somebody has an answer to that, we can have a conversation.
You will be surprised Clare, that there are a lot of people that do not know the answer to this question. Just to underline the fact I am very very happy to find someone who, not only has the answer but understands the principle If you have the time, let me buy you a coffee and we can talk more.
And @nick_lawson let me give you another myth: Photographers can read minds and can make your brand look amazing and put it in a great context although you have no idea how to put your brand in the correct context :). Some very very good ones can, but they cannot do magic!