As the impact of coronavirus seeps deeper, events, company all-hands and business meetings are being cancelled.

Some of these might have been primarily social occasions that can be rescheduled or refunded. But many other events – such as internal strategy sessions or intra-office meetings – are crucial at a time when communication is the key to business success.

Plan ahead

We are in a period of ‘unknown unknowns’, but it’s clear that coronavirus spreads quickly and with stealth. 

If you have a large-scale – or small-scale – event planned in Europe or the US in March, April and May it’s no doubt at risk as we reach the containment phase of the virus.

Cancel early, and shift to a remote or virtual event as quickly as you can – the more of your attendees you can prime, and inform, the better. Avoid negative “we’ve cancelled” messaging and focus on the positive: “We can still meet but virtually.”

Focus on outcomes

It’s important to go back to basics when you re-think your event – at the core of the experience, what do your attendees want or need to take away from the event?

It may well be that you can focus only on ensuring your keynotes or major sessions are streamed. Or you could decide that you need a full range of speakers and have the bandwidth to schedule a full running order. 

Consider re-creating your event without an audience, filming it on site with your speakers if they are able to travel, but streaming to your broad audience.  

Re-staging the event as a ‘virtual television experience’ is relatively straightforward and can work for both internal and external audiences.  

This will work if you have not been told to isolate completely and can still get your speakers in to your workspace or host location, or if you are broadcasting from your own audiences to a disparate or global workforce.

Pull on your strongest speakers – or your speakers delivering business critical information – and build your running order or schedule around them. 

Think hard about the format

Consider compressing a two- or three-day event into 5 or 6 hours. You can include breaks and interstitials for the audience to discuss and ‘virtually break out’; bring in a ‘host’ or primary speaker to pull the event together and ensure that you keep to time and can react to events and interaction from the audience. 

Consider breaking your virtual event into segments or chapters. It’s one thing to schedule straight-through sessions when your audience are all seated in an auditorium, it’s quite another when they can tune out at will online. 

Don’t forget that if you audience are homeworking too, they may be facing distractions a live audience would never encounter. Breaking the event into chapters will avoid people switching away from your event mid-session.

Your technology 

External event providers such as ours will provide one single video stream that you can share to your intranet, chosen environment or social channels, working with your IT department to ensure this is a smooth experience. 

If yours is a small event, you can use streaming technology – such as Skype, Skype TX, WebEx or Zoom meeting app – to deliver your keynotes or presentations, bearing in mind that quality may not be perfect quality for a large screen. 

At a time like this the information you are delivering is more important than the ‘look’ of the presentation. 

Scheduling and languages

Ideally you will schedule your virtual event to be at an optimal time for all your audiences. But finding a time that suits all time zones can be a challenge. You can always pre-record and share a recording after the event if attendance is not possible. 

Don’t forget you can also offer instant translation or subtitling to enable your message to be delivered to as broad an audience as possible. 

Multiple platforms

Consider all outlets to push your event out to your target audiences. Start with your core space – either your business website, YouTube channel or your intranet. Bolt on additional platforms if you need to extend the reach of your event. 

Today’s tech solutions will enable you to upload documents, presentations, imagery or videos into your live virtual event. 

It’s relatively straightforward with available tech to push concurrent live feeds to platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Consider how best to engage your target audience. 

Enable interactivity 

It’s crucial that the event is as engaged and lively as an in-person event. Here are some ways to include interactivity: 

– If you are using a technology like Skype, WebEx or Zoom, use the chat functionality during keynotes to solicit comments and conversation 

– Stream on Twitter and run polls and votes; encourage comments and build thread commentaries

– Build in ‘water cooler moments’ via your meeting technology, where people can discuss issues and points of interest

– If it’s a large event, switch off live comments so the flow of a presentation or keynote is not interrupted

After the event

Solicit feedback to determine where you can make changes and improvements.  This is a learning experience for many companies, so don’t expect to get it right the first time.

READ MORE: 

#Coronacomms: How to be productive when everyone’s working remotely

How the right kind of content can help build trust in your brand

Communicating sustainability: 7 companies doing it well

 

If you would like to know more about how Formative Content has helped tell the brand stories of some of the world’s biggest B2B organisations, please email gay@formativecontent.com

About the author: Gay Flashman is the CEO and founder of Formative Content. Last year, she was named in Thrive Global’s Top Female Creatives of 2019 list. Connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Or if you would like to find out more about her recently published book ‘Powerful B2B Content – Using Brand Journalism to Create Compelling and Authentic Storytelling’ click here.

For an event to be credible, it must have regular blog content and social media postings. That is the opinion of the absolutely overwhelming majority – 97% – of people who have attended a business event in the last two years.

The finding is from a survey commissioned by Formative Content for its new report: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital.

Rapid change

The report polled event organisers and attendees to gauge opinion on what is experienced and expected in the industry and how organisers are responding to rapidly changing demands.

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The flip said of the 97% figure, of course, is that only 3% of those who have been to events would regard an event as credible if it did not have digital content. It is a stark demonstration of how mobile devices and digital content have become a central part of the event experience.

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Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

Information expectation

The central role of online content was highlighted by the fact that the majority of people who attended events said they used the events online presence as their main source of information ahead of and during the event.

Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

The report shows what a challenging time it is to be running events, with a fragmented media market and multiple, rapidly evolving technologies. But it concludes that with an informed content strategy, there are unique opportunities to too.

“For innovative, dynamic organisations, this is also a time of almost limitless possibilities. With strategic thinking, audiences can be engaged like never before. Credible, authentic and democratic involvement fosters interest and loyalty and helps build a brand that can endure and expand.”

The study sets out the need for a Digital Action Plan to engage and inform event customers before, during and after events and shows how events can evolve to become a year-round brand.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

The many challenges facing event organisers have been highlighted by a unique survey into the industry commissioned for a new report The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, from Formative Content.

As the ways in which people network and consume information continue to evolve and proliferate, over a third of event organisers believe that industry needs to adapt to reflect a hyper-connected world.

While 56% think events have a secure future, 35% believe their survival is contingent on significant change.

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The report examines the challenges and opportunities presented as the industry tries to invent new ways to engage and leverage digital without threatening the very reasons audiences attend live events.

The survey shows what organisers are now expected to provide, with a decisive 97% of event attendees saying an online presence was vital if the event was to have credibility.

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Source: The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, Formative Content

As time constraints grow and budgets are tightened, the competition for event audiences is growing, notes the report. Audiences are being bombarded with huge volumes of information via multiple platforms presenting both a product and a marketing challenge.

So how do event organisers respond to these challenges? The answer is carefully tailored digital engagement: a Digital Action Plan.

By developing content for use before, during and after a meeting, the event gains resonance and reach while its impact is amplified and extended.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

[jumplead_form id=”57f3c2f16726daf16b8b459c”]

Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

Events are undergoing a profound change, transformed by digital technologies and content like so many other industries. But what does the future really hold, and how can events professionals harness the opportunities presented by these dramatic shifts?

These were the questions we set out to answer at an event in London this morning, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital, to coincide with the release of our report of the same name. The session was moderated by Formative Content CEO Gay Flashman with presentations from Jazmin Beale from Olympia London, Una O’Sullivan of KPMG, Lucy Eldred from KNect365 and Joe Edwards of Sage.

One of the key questions surrounding digital content for events is – if you put all of your event content online, won’t delegates be less likely to actually attend?  It’s a moot point, according to Joe Edwards, a comms industry veteran. Whilst the digital toolkit now available to event organisers is the most varied it has ever been, there is still one central purpose of holding an event and that is to network, he said: “People talk about ROI and leads, but one of the most important part of events is connecting people together face to face.”

It was an attitude shared by Una O’Sullivan, who runs a biannual internal KPMG event: “A conference is a social event,” she said. “It’s about getting people talking together.”

Indeed, research conducted by Formative Content for our report shows that almost 50% of those that attend events do so predominantly for the networking opportunities that the event presents.

The key challenges

But of course, you still have to get people to the event in the first place. This was one of the enduring challenges for organisers, according to Jazmin Beale.  Jazmin was perfectly placed to outline the problems faced, given that she stewards 220 events every year at Olympia London, with a combined footfall of over 1.5 million.

The main challenges were threefold, she said. Firstly, driving revenue by getting people to the conferences and getting exhibitors to hire stands; secondly, maintaining the quality and quantity of attendees: “Like any party, the people who attend contribute greatly to the event experience,” she said; and thirdly, the realisation that digital engagement throughout the year encourages repeat attendance and word of mouth referral, and is therefore key to any event.

“Many leading shows are on the journey to become a brand in their own right, and are engaging their industry with great content,” she said.

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How to make digital content work

How are events making digital content work for them? Joe Edwards thinks that organising social media at events is a bit like herding cats, but, that said, it can be done very effectively.

“The most important thing for social, when looking at events: it’s all about increasing awareness – and that has to be emotive, exciting and engaging,” he said. “If I see another video of people walking through doors and vox pops saying how great the conference is, I will shoot myself,” he promised. “It’s got to be done differently.”

Among the more inventive methods Joe said he has used was demonstrating the Internet of Things by having delegates send a tweet with a hashtag and a particular number in order to switch on a lightbulb. The key was to “connect the message of the event to some sort of activation idea within the event,” he said.

Lucy Eldred’s KNect365 Finance runs 48 events under 13 different brands every year, and also tries inventive ways to engage the audience. She tries to make her content stand out with a Graham Norton-style chat show for one of their key annual events, the FundForum Asia.

“We try to do content that speaks to people as people,” she explained. “We do a daily livestream chat show, like Graham Norton for the Asset Management community, and it is relatively entertaining given how dry the subject matter is. We send it out immediately to our global audience and it’s a way of them accessing the content of the event in an engaging way.”

Joe Edwards recommends implementing a social command centre at events, with social media managers dedicated to pushing content outside of the physical event. “They can identify and direct conversations; they can promote questions and promote engagement while the talk is going on. The command centre can also manage the live feed with photos, vox pops, and videos, as well as moderating the social conversation around the event.”

Una O’Sullivan also makes great use of video and pictures, “We have a video booth where we get people talking together, and it shows that we are a collaborative organisation.”

Living beyond the moment

But perhaps the biggest take-away of the event was the importance of maintaining that audience engagement across the year.

Una O’Sullivan faces this challenge in mobilising internal engagement at KPMG. She runs a bi-annual gathering of 200 – 250 financial services leaders within the organisation, which serves as an opportunity for financial services leadership to set out their strategy and gather inputs from partners at the coalface. The most valuable part is getting that information and knowledge to cascade down the organisation, as she explained:

“There is very much a before, during and after,” she said. “The purpose of the conference’s digital output is to firstly, help the delegates get the most out of the conference by preparing them; secondly, to capture the news and the conversation at the event, but thirdly, and by far the most importantly, for the delegates to be able to take the information back and cascade it. There are some really important messages that can be taken back to member firms, global account teams, and of course to the clients.”

Among Una’s box of tricks is a well-designed message from KPMG’s global chairman, which is sent out pre-event to the delegates, summarising the purpose of their attendance and imparting relevant information. Then there are daily updates sent to delegates, as well as a wrap up of the day’s discussions. There is a global news site which enjoys very good engagement and which, for the week of the conference, is full of stories from the event.

Finally, there is a toolkit produced at the end of the event, which is sent out to every member of the financial services team – some 30,000 people.

“Content is so much more than telling people what happened at the event, it’s a year-round process,” agreed Lucy Eldred. “If you can get them to engage at the time of the conference and come to you because of the insightful information that you are providing, then you can continue to provide that content year round and become a source of insight for your prospective conference-goers.”

The future is bright

According to the research conducted by Formative Content, over 90% of event organisers believe the industry has a secure future – but only if it embraces full-time digital communication.

“In an increasingly digital world, events bring communities together – face to face,” said Jazmin. “They share a common belief, a passion or hobby, through a shared industry or as part of a local, national or international community.  Events make things happen.  They ignite ideas and knowledge.  They progress education and understanding.  They create and enrich the communities they serve.  They bring investment to the country and local communities.”

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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Formative Content’s team of experienced journalists and marketers will help you build the reputation of your brand. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. office@formativecontent.com Tel: +44 (0) 20 7206 2687

Alex Gray is a Senior Writer at Formative Content responsible for writing fast-turnaround, engaging blogs on a variety of topics and industries.

Formative Content is a UK based communications agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients.

More than a third of event organisers acknowledge they will need to be agile and innovative if they are to withstand the pressures of technological developments combined with an unstable economy. That’s the finding in an industry report following a series of surveys involving hundreds of attendees and organisers of business events. Over 90% of organisers believe their industry does has a secure future, but 35% of them concede that they will need to adapt to survive.

 

Of the survey participants who had attended a business event recently, almost half went primarily for the networking. And events organisers ranked people’s need for connection as one of the key elements that will serve to secure the future of events

 

Even in a world where we are hooked to our mobiles, tablets and screens, what people are seeking is even more connection.”

 

In a separate survey of over 200 business professionals, events and conferences came out as the top means of gaining industry insights, learning and connecting, with 27.5% placing this first. In second position for gaining insights were social media, blogs and online content with 17.9% of the vote. It follows then, that combining the potential where to buy clomiphene tablets impact of both to enhance the audience experience could be a powerful combination.

 

Many of the applications and possibilities for online content and social media are not yet being exploited fully by the majority of large-scale business event organisers.

 

From video to live blogging and tweeting, the opportunities to share takeaways and support connection amongst delegates – not to mention a wider audience – are ever expanding.

 

Being part of the conversation – and staying relevant  – is the goal.

 

“Key to that relevance is building communication across all appropriate platforms through intelligent, useful and interesting content,” explains Gay Flashman, former Channel 4 News Managing Editor and CEO of Formative Content, a journalist-led content marketing agency. “You must offer comprehensive coverage and content before, during and after the event, ensuring longevity of engagement and a boost to your brand or event’s credibility throughout the calendar year.”

Maintaining website content

Two thirds of the event attendees surveyed expect events to have a live website and active coverage well in advance of, and for some weeks after, the event.

More than a third would go a step further, expecting a year-round online presence to be considered credible.

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Events need to undergo profound change in order to survive. That’s the clear finding of a new report into the future of the industry, which examines the way digital technologies and content are changing the events landscape.

A survey of event organisers conducted for the Formative Content report The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital found that more than a third think only significant change will ensure a long-term future for the events sector.

The survey also found that 97% of event attendees feel that an event needs regular blog content and social media postings to be regarded as credible.

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Significant challenges

The report explores how the proliferation of mobile devices and availability of information online has created many opportunities for the industry, but is also throwing up significant challenges.

It shows that with the cloud-based video conferencing market expected to be worth $2.9 billion by 2020, and many companies even making their AGMs ‘virtual’, face-to-face meetings are under pressure like never before.

Attendance drivers

Despite the challenges of selling-in large-scale events to clients and to internal audiences, there is still a strong desire to meet people in person. Of the survey participants who had attended a business event recently, almost half went primarily for the networking.

The desire for events is there, but the type of event that customers demand is changing.

Take action

The report includes a range of practical and detailed steps on how event organisers need to engage audiences before, during and after events, through the creation of a Digital Action Plan.

It suggests the content offered to support a live event might range from social media posts, infographics, blogs and longer-form articles, to videos and specially commissioned research.

Find out more in the report, The Future of Events: The Challenge of Digital. Enter your name and email address to download your copy.

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If you’d like to hear how we can help you amplify your corporate content, then get in touch today. Email: office@formativecontent.com or call our team on +44 (0) 20 7206 2687.

Keith Breene is a Senior Writer at Formative Content, specialising in the creation of first class live reporting, blog writing and film making. Formative Content is a UK based content marketing agency producing high quality content, live event coverage and strategic communications support for clients around the world.

The London and Buckinghamshire content marketing agency, Formative Content, has been shortlisted in the New Consultancy of the Year category at this year’s PRCA National Awards.

The New Consultancy of the Year Award recognises significant growth and success of new PR and communications agencies. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on Tuesday 8th November.

Formative’s CEO, Gay Flashman, said: “As a new agency we are delighted to be recognised by the PRCA for our rapid growth and impressive client list. This nomination is recognition of what a small, committed team of professionals can achieve in a really short time. We look forward to more growth, and more success in the future!”

Need help with a comms challenge? Call the team at Formative today: +44 (0) 207 206 2687