Tips for Producing Successful Virtual Client Events
With large gatherings still deemed generally unsafe, it’s predicted that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. With that, advertisers and event marketers have had to overcome a slew of new challenges in figuring out how to effectively facilitate modern events for clients, whether it be moderating smaller-scale press tours, or planning full-blown networking conferences.
As with all the new challenges the past year has brought, communications professionals have learned to adapt. Here are a few key takeaways MGHers have learned that you can apply to your client’s next virtual event:
PRACTICE AND PREPARATION MAKE PERFECT.
When it comes to utilizing new marketing and event hosting mediums, it’s expected for challenges to arise. Do your best to avoid the cliche -- “you’re on mute” -- by practicing using new platforms, taking advantage of their built-in features, and preparing with all parties involved ahead of time.
- “Practice whichever platform you’re presenting on! For a larger-scale client conference, we had a preview & tech day, which set a timeframe where attendees could practice and become comfortable using the platform prior to our virtual event launch. This was super helpful for individuals who aren’t as tech savvy, especially with the platforms having so many features! On the day of the event, I’d plan to have a schedule that includes buffer time between sessions, so both attendees and speakers have enough time to log onto their next video with ease.” - Carly Greenberg, Account Coordinator
- “Plan on doing a tech check prior to the event with all speakers. This gives you time to make sure their microphone and camera work properly, and they have a clean, professional background. You may also want to consider having a set background for presenters, such as the conference logo, to avoid anything controversial popping up.” - Sam Yeager, Account Coordinator
PLAN FOR TECHNOLOGY FAILS.
Raise your hand if you’ve been on a call where someone unexpectedly drops off, someone can’t share a screen, or someone accidentally uses a filter (looking at you, judge with the cat filter). Throughout the last year, we’ve all been there. And while we’ve done our best to become digital communication pros, even the savviest of us can fall victim to unforeseen tech mishaps.
No matter how big of a tech-xpert you may be, planning to expect the unexpected will insure your event moderators succeed.
- “On the day of the event, make sure speakers log on a few minutes early. All speakers should have a back-up plan in place, like calling-in via phone, in case a tech issue arises.” - Kelly Hamilton, Account Executive
- “Have a back up plan to your back up plan. Is the WiFi working at the host’s location? If it fails, who is on standby for back-up or what can you do to create a hotspot or other solution for the host? Does the client want a video of the press conference? If so, the service you utilize may offer a recording, however, you then need to be cognizant of the video delivery timeframe, or if someone else is available to manually record the event in case technology fails.” - Kristi Stewart, SVP, Group Account Director
- “For a recent client’s conference, we hired producers from GoToWebinar (the hosting platform) to ensure the technology side was all functioning well on event day, so we could remain focused on the quality of the content rather than troubleshooting IT issues. Additionally, these producers were able to present from their fiber optic, hard-wired devices, making for a better streaming experience for guests, rather than relying on presentations from multiple locations with potentially spotty connections.” - Chris McMurry, EVP/COO; Account Management/Public Relations Account Director
EVEN VIRTUAL EVENTS SHOULD BE FUN!
One of the largest dilemmas for event planners in recent months has been trying to figure out how to bring the element of human connection and fun into digital events that can inherently feel distant. While event attendees may be physically apart, there are a ton of angles you can use to bring people together at your virtual event.
- “Consider a platform that can allow breakout rooms to facilitate smaller discussions or working groups. Try to have some element of fun or networking to make it feel more like what people expect from attending an event. A few fun options might be to send everyone food delivery platform gift certificates, so they could all have lunch delivered for your lunch-and-learn. Or, send wine to ticket holders and do a brief happy hour. At one recent client event, we engaged attendees through a trivia game with awesome prizes. The key is to keep these events short, but sweet to avoid burnout. - Kelly Cahill, Public Relations Account Director