Making the Shift to Live Virtual Events.
Businesses in today’s marketplace need to be innovative and agile to remain competitive. With the social distancing restrictions imposed on organisations, resilient organisations have had to make the shift from the physical to the virtual. The winners, however, were those businesses that have continually focused on the changing needs of their target customer base.
There are often several stakeholders that contribute to a brief of a marketing campaign with a variety of agendas and demands. Briefs therefore evolve, and consequently, the final outcome is often not always was originally planned. In this case, our client had originally briefed a pre-recorded four-person panel discussion. Within a few days of the virtual event, the project had rapidly evolved to a seven-person live stream panel discussion. Our agency was tasked to make this happen, and we were ready and willing.
While a well-produced, pre-recorded webcast would present content in a better light while also requiring less preparation time for panelists and crew, however, our client wanted to hold a dynamic event with a casual and conversational tone that only live events can normally offer. As such, a bigger on-site production crew during the live broadcast was required, as well as significantly more preparation time and resources were required for panelists. All this needed to be achieved within less than a week.
Key to the success in delivering a standout was three main foundations:
- Aligning different stakeholder objectives and messaging to ensure the campaign had a clear focus and was uniquely positioned to best resonate with the needs and challenges of the target audience
- Enabling panelists with the tools and resources to effectively articulate their insights and align their points of view to the umbrella messages of the virtual event. Careful executive-level management was also required to ensure we executive panelists valuable time was best utilised
- Effectively managing the live stream production with the relevant resources, plans, and contingencies to offer the best production value and maximise the attendee experience.
How we made it happen
To fail to plan, is to plan to fail. This is the tested case for the majority of executions, but even the best and most considered plans would need adjustment when priorities change. And this was the case in this project. Content messaging and scripts were created and approved on schedule. Over time, other departments wanted to contribute to the success of the campaign and their new demands required attention – such as inclusion of various topics and more air-time of specific content.
A major overhaul of the messaging strategy was executed so that all stakeholders were considered, while still balancing the need to keep content insightful and of value to the target audience.
The end result: development and approval of a new Core Value Proposition and the foundation for the newly created scripts and talking points for all panelists.
As timelines were extremely short, another key factor to success was to ensure that panelists had the tools and resources to best their case in the panel. Countless pages of information were summarised for panelists and our content lead worked with each panelist to understand their key talking points which were communicated across all panelists. Each panelist had a summary of other panelists’ talking points and high-level opinions before the event; thereby facilitating better collaboration and engagement.
A shared understanding of each other panelists’ talking points was not only invaluable for the panelists themselves – this was also the case for the on-site production team who were tasked with streaming the live content to a virtual audience. It was by having a solid understanding of each panelist’s discussion points, that the executive producer and film crew were able to produce a standout production to behind the scenes.
In order to ensure all contingencies were covered, the additional team members were deployed to ensure the smooth-running live stream. Like the set of a live tv show such as Ellen, we had an Executive Producer, Technical Director, and various film crew members.
With any live event production, planned scripting does not always go to plan. To help panelists with any curly issues that might pop up during the broadcast, a content expert was available to dynamically provide guidance and feed panelists information via feedback monitors. This was especially useful given that some panelists had only one day to prepare.
In addition to the above tactics, our agency executed the event with the solid pre, during, and post-event activities to ensure success:
- Production of eDM invitation and landing page
- Attendee generation telemarketing to garner the target number of registrations with the strictly defined target audience.
- Working alongside our client’s social media agency to provide social media resources for amplification.
- Set up and management of the streaming platform.
- Drop out minimisation tactics including personalised outlook invitations, SMS reminders, and follow-up reminder calls.
- End-to-end live virtual event management.
- Competition management and coordination of applicable licenses.
- Management of leaderboard gamification during the event to optimise attendee engagement.
- Post-event communications and follow-up of those attendees who could not attend.
The campaign was successful in terms of metrics attainment and feedback from sponsors and event attendees.