For now, large events and public gatherings are on indefinite hold. As a result,
organizations have had to jump into the online event pool. Some had already dipped their toes in webinars and online classes, but few had planned and executed a full-blown, full-day, or multi-day experience.
As often happens with new and unique challenges, many turned to Google to start researching. With more information and more questions, they then turned to one another. In times like this, the relationships we have built (in business and elsewhere) become invaluable. Leaning on each other and learning together makes all of us stronger and ensures that we won’t just get through this move to virtual, we will crush it.
One of our long-term clients and partners, Associations North, reached out to us recently to reimagine a few in-person events that they needed to move online. Mercury owner, Justin, jumped in with his typical enthusiasm and we got this attitude. Working with Associations North Education and Project Manager Sarah Kragness and a volunteer committee, they tackled a big project on a short timeline and learned a lot along the way.
In the spirit of working together to move everyone forward, we are excited to share our insights and findings around creating memorable, engaging, and relevant online events. The first three videos focus on the importance of purposeful planning and excellent communication leading up to the event.
“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.”
Before the Event: Production Companies, Attendees & Sponsorships – Oh My!
Plan, plan, plan. Reinvent, don’t repurpose, was the mantra that guided our planning from the beginning. We learned that online events need just as much thoughtful planning and detailed execution as in-person events. Possibly even more now as we attempt to create a relevant and meaningful online experience for both attendees and sponsors.
One big question that needs to be addressed when planning a virtual event is whether or not to hire a production company. In the case of Justin and Sarah, they did it both ways. For one event, they handled everything and for the other, they brought in a professional production team (EideCom Event Production was chosen for the latter). Get their insights and recommendations in the following clip:
Now more than ever, communication is key. Providing clear, consistent messaging around the upcoming event makes attendees feel informed, prepared and excited. Just like throwing virtual events is new territory for some planners, attending them is new for many as well. This is one instance where there is no such thing as overcommunication. Watch the clip below to find out why Sarah says, “Communicating and time are your best friends with virtual events.”
The days of hosted happy hours and catered lunches are over. Or are they? Learn new ways to entice sponsorship of your events. Below are six solid ideas to get your juices flowing followed by a clip that focuses on the ever-growing challenge of providing value to sponsors.
Games, Contests and Entertainment Breaks
Sponsors that bring the fun may very well be the ones that attendees remember most. Hosting a 15-minute concert, comedian, or magic show is a great way for sponsors to have a presence. Games or contests present the opportunity to get in front of attendees again with post-event gifts.
Sponsors could create a beautifully-designed program that is mailed to attendees before the event. The novelty of a printed piece would be memorable.
Branded Waiting or Breakout Rooms
Sponsoring a waiting room or breakout room offers numerous possibilities for sponsors. They could be present in the “room,” have their logo displayed, or even present a short video.
Everyone loves an unexpected gift! Send something for use during the event or something that they will hold on to.
Happy Hour Drinks
If laws permit, send a mini-bottle of wine or bottle of beer with a nice glass that attendees can use to toast each other during a virtual happy hour.
Coordinating lunch delivery to all attendees at one time could make a strong impression. Leveraging GrubHub or DoorDash may be helpful. If the delivery proves too difficult, providing attendees with a code to order their lunch works too.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on ways to bring value to sponsors. Now is the time to embrace the change in the way we execute events. Those that are creative and persistent will find ways to thrive in this new environment.
Watch the clip below to learn more:
Justin not only offered strategic guidance on the planning of the events, but he emceed as well.