Lots of my clients are calling and mailing to cancel upcoming events, for obvious reasons. Everyone wants to postpone but let’s be frank, that won’t always be possible. We won’t have twice as many people to attend events in the second half of the year, or twice as many venues. So while postponing is obviously the ideal situation, it is worth considering alternatives. Here are a couple of suggestions based on my recent experiences.
Do it digitally
Yesterday I was due to speak to an audience at a local authority as part of their internal strategic and management development programme. I had created a 90 minute workshop covering the basics of applied futurism, athletic organisations, and the critical future skills. This is content that I have only ever delivered face to face. But for obvious reasons, they had to cancel the big gathering. Rather than try to postpone though, they moved the session to one that was all digital.
Everyone dialled into a session run on GoToTraining that I delivered from my workshop at home in Manchester. I confess this was a little daunting at first. I’m used to feedback from the crowd. I couldn’t quite see how it would work without that face to face interaction.
Do you know what? It was brilliant. For a start, more people turned up than had been expected for the face to face event. And throughout the session, the engagement on chat was amazing! Not only could the participants chat to me, but they could chat to each other, sharing ideas as the session spurred them. The client told me afterwards that in the 15 years she had been working with that leadership team, she had never seen them so engaged!
Obviously I would like to take some of the credit, but I think the format can really work as well. And at much bigger scales than I expected. We had 72 people in this session and they could all participate if they wanted to, whether that was on chat, polls, or in the exercises I set them as we went through.
A week ago I would have been very sceptical about delivering talks and workshops down the line, but now I am a confirmed fan.
One to few or one to many
My session was interactive with a medium-sized group, but there’s no reason you couldn’t live stream to many more. If you’re organising an event for a corporate or conference and want to talk about my experience of doing it digitally, then drop me a line. Happy to share what I can of what worked.
Turn it into a content programme
Events are just one form of content. If you can’t get people together, and you don’t think digital will work, then maybe turn your event into another form of content. Especially if it is for something time-sensitive, like a product launch.
I have worked on a few incredible content marketing programmes recently, including Auto Trader’s Future Car project and the Future Pizza project to launch the Big Bang Fair.
The Future Car project combined an in-depth analysis of the future of the car over the next three decades, backed with a round of broadcast interviews that I gave to support it. (There are advantages to having 14 years and a few thousand appearances behind the microphone). The story went truly global with coverage in Nigeria, Malaysia and Portugal as well as on BBC News and in many of the national papers. You can find more information at https://www.autotrader.co.uk/content/features/cars-of-the-future
The Future Pizza project was slightly different. I was commissioned to work out what the future pizza might look like, with our recipe (involving insects) turned into a video and a PR campaign. This again caught attention around the world, including from Germany’s biggest science show, Galileo, who came to Manchester to film me making the future pizza. Again, the story was picked up by many of the national press. You can watch the original video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEJpSLyUQsM
Get the message out
If you are worried that your marketing campaign is going to suffer because of the event shutdowns, maybe think about a future-focused content campaign? Drop me a line if you would like to chat through some ideas.