Events cancelled or postponed? What we're learning
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Since everyone’s events have been postponed or canceled, we’re speaking with as many people as possible to learn how everyone is adapting. Here’s a roundup of what we’ve learned, including some ideas from the Storyvine Team. If you want to hop on the phone with us and brainstorm additional ways, please feel free to reach out. (Remember, it's physical isolation, not social isolation.)
There are three (3) broad scenarios we’re hearing about: Postponing; Going Virtual; or Replacing the Event with Other Types of Engagement. Below are tactical ideas we’ve heard for each situation.
1. Postpone the Event (but maintain engagement) People are pushing their events into the summer timeframe, or even after Labor Day, and expect those events to take place. In the meantime, they are exploring new ways to keep participants engaged. Here are some tactics being developed:
Content-Rich Emails – Email compelling information about sessions, vendors and featured speakers to attendees to stay on their radar during the delay.
Attendee “What I’m Looking Forward To” Introductions – Encourage attendees to share their enthusiasm for the event and for their fellow participants with short, guided videos. We’re working with an event that was bringing together more than 500 cancer survivors. When the event was postponed, the participants were devastated because they were so excited to meet other survivors. We’re designing a simple template that will allow them to virtually meet and share what they are most excited about when they finally do meet. This will help build camaraderie and familiarity.
“Meet the Speaker” Content – Deliver speaker bios and "content snapshots" in written, multimedia, or video and delivered via digital channels, to generate and maintain interest in the event.
2. Hold a Virtual Event Even the event companies we’re speaking with are making decisions about whether or not to go completely virtual, while others have already made that call. Here are some of the ideas we’ve heard:
Use Dedicated Event Platforms – The good news is that there are a lot of options with a lot of engagement tools, support for virtual vendor booths, and webinar-style live speaker support. The challenge, if you haven’t used these before, is learning the new tool, while you are transforming the event. One of our Pharma event-organizing partners has narrowed the field to three platforms after 15 demos:
On24 - https://www.on24.com
VTradeshow - https://www.virtualtradeshowhosting.com
Shorten the Day - There is already a lot of “Zoom Fatigue.” Hours and hours of live video conferences is challenging even the most focused people to stay engaged. Rather than running an “all-day” event from 9am to 4pm, consider simplifying the “live” content to shorten the day to something more like 11am to 2pm.
Lower the Prices for Online Events – Because overall costs will be lower, consider dropping the price of the event (even with similar content). One of our partners is considering a drop from about $2000 to less than $400, and hoping they can expand the number of participants.
Feature Sponsors/Vendors in Communications - One example we have seen, is an email from NASCAR that included a video RV tour from one of the RV sponsors that you would normally demo in person, at the race. An event partner of ours is working with us to develop vendor video profiles they can include in their emails to provide marketing value to their sponsors.
Virtual Networking – One of the key values people get from events is the chance to meet and engage with new people. We’ve had a number of discussions asking how we might replicate this dynamic. One concept that is resonating is allowing event participants to create profile videos where they share info about themselves both “What they can offer other participants,” and “What they might need.”
3. Replace the Event with Other Engagements Some events (such as education events) are time-restricted, so delaying the event more than 3 or 4 weeks effectively pushes that event to the following year. Other clients are simply so impacted by the crisis, that the event is simply cancelled. Here are tactics we’ve been hearing and kicking around:
Grassroots Fundraising – Use storytelling to inspire others to support the organization through these trying times. Curate the stories so that donors get to experience the organization in a more personal, impactful way. We are working with a foundation celebrating their 60th anniversary to capture video stories of the impact the organization has had on people over the decades. They will compile the best content as a way to celebrate their accomplishments and inspire new supporters.
Share Best Practices – Especially for events that involve professional development, find ways to share the expertise that would’ve been shared organically at an event. There are ways to capture, curate and share virtually. Participants that were going to be in person at an annual sales meeting are sharing best practices through online platforms like Slack, as well as making videos that share where/how they succeeded.
Offer Coping Strategies – We are all struggling with how to work from home, support our businesses, teach our kids, and battle cabin fever. Sharing insights, ideas, and even empathy will make a difference for everyone involved. One of our clients is a state teachers union that converted their event to virtual. The plan was to capture testimonial videos at the event, but we quickly transformed that template. Now the teachers will be using Storyvine to share home-schooling advice, activities and encouragement for parents in these trying times.
Video “Acceptance Speeches” for Award Winners – One of our prospective clients had to cancel their in-person award event, and announced the winners virtually. We’re talking to them about creating a template to allow recipients to create short, co-branded acceptance videos they can share digitally to increase visibility for both brands.
News & Company Updates – We are all in fact-finding mode right now, looking for ways to keep our employees engaged and our customers supported. Any way you can keep people in the loop, especially if you can maintain the human element is needed right now. Earlier in March, we launched a free Update VideoGuide template that lets people easily produce and share video updates both professionally and personally. Feel free to use and share, if you think this may support people or companies you know: https://www.blog.storyvine.com/post/update-videoguide-template-available-free-of-charge
This list is by no means exhaustive, but we are so inspired by our clients and the people we have been talking to, we wanted to share the ideas in as near real time as possible. As I said earlier, if you want to hop on the phone to brainstorm, we’re here… (well, virtually anyway. ;-)
Please stay safe, stay positive and know we’re in this together.