Hosting Virtual Events and the Future of Getting Together
It’s been just over a month since the Evans Communications team merged with ON Advertising to expand our crew, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of the process. We’re now capable of doing more than ever on our clients’ behalf and have enjoyed working as a new unit to get through these challenging times. Since our merger, one question we get a lot is: “What’s going on with your events division?” We were halfway through our spring season when COVID-19 hit and were only able to hold about half of our events for the season. Because of this, we are postponing most of the rest until fall 2020 or spring 2021; as a result, we began offering virtual events.
The Future of Virtual Networking
With such unique times to work through, we’ve been purposefully studious about the best ways to produce online events. Why? We wanted to identify true best practices and decipher which approaches and platforms work best. And while we’re not epidemiologists, we don’t believe that virtual events are the long-term answer to the question of how we’re all going to interact. This too shall pass!
Still, we do see the value in virtual events for some of the clients and organizations we work with. And we’ve noticed a few best practices we can share with you as remote working becomes more of a new normal.
- Keep it small and simple for virtual events. Zoom or WebEx calls are hard enough to navigate for a work function; and for a social or networking event, they can become unruly unless you limit the attendance size and designate a host who can thoroughly manage the conversation.
- Keep everything short. It’s one thing to sit in a hotel ballroom for four hours for a charity dinner. But, it’s quite another to keep people’s attention spans focused online. Especially when they may have a million other distractions around their homes. How can you be safe and avoid losing audience interest? Err on the side of caution that any virtual meeting over an hour is a stretch. And if it’s an hour, you should probably have a reason and make it clear about why it’s longer.
- Market, market, market. Organizations can actually expand their reach far beyond what their in-person events might have attracted if they push hard through social media and other marketing channels. An event that might have drawn a few hundred people in-person can potentially draw thousands online. But, there must be a coordinated, strategic PR and marketing effort to make it work.
- Find the right platform. “Live” events are still very possible, and we’re working with several companies that are providing the option of doing in-studio content, including fundraising platforms that can capture donations in real-time! But, we’re also seeing some organizations pre-create their content. Going instead with a more passive fundraising ask that can be done on the donor’s own schedule.
- Make it professional. If you expected someone to pay to attend your in-person event, and you’re asking them for money now, they should expect to see a professional presentation in return. Think about fundraisers, for example. The in-person experience would ordinarily include a scripted program with themes and supporting visual elements. The online version of the event should be no different!
- Most importantly, don’t do anything off the cuff. Everyone wants to do something right now. But if you don’t go into virtual events with a clearly defined goal, thoughtful content, and a significant marketing and social media push, you’re wasting your time and energy and that of any potential attendees.
How ON Advertising Can Help with Virtual Events
No matter the event, from theme conception to running of the show, the team at ON Advertising is ready to ensure your events are executed memorably and flawlessly. We know times are truly unpredictable and unprecedented, which is why we are here to help you with your specific needs, and to share even further insight with you about how you can make virtual events beneficial in these challenging times.
Contact us to learn more about our event planning services and to start working with our expert team.