“Two Hours of Magic”: Pivoting from a live experience to virtual/digital? Here are a few things to consider.
By Jimmy Verrett, Sr. Creative Strategist / Sr. Creative Director, InVision Communications
Clearly, the COVID-19 (aka Coronavirus) outbreak has significantly upset the event industry—both B2B and B2C. Events such as Google I/O, the Geneva Auto Show, and SXSW have been canceled. Others, such as Coachella, Stagecoach and numerous corporate meetings are reportedly rescheduling to later in the year.
And then there are events like Facebook F8 and Adobe Summit that are pivoting from planned live events to virtual/digital experiences in an effort to maintain momentum and support important corporate initiatives.
Several high-profile InVision clients are pivoting from live to virtual/digital. Here are some of the ways we’re helping them navigate a path to success.
Communicate Early and Often
While clear, concise and consistent communication is always a best practice, it is even more critical in times of uncertainty. Within the present context, we’re working with client partners to generate and execute communication plans that engage and inform stakeholders in as close to real-time as practical. We’re drafting robust FAQ documents that efficiently house important information. And, wherever possible, we’re tailoring messaging to audience personas and care-abouts. Pre-experience communication featuring these characteristics not only drives participation, but it also serves to build trust with the audience and confidence that the upcoming engagement will be both compelling and worthwhile.
Whereas a typical multi-day live meeting or corporate event is well-suited to long general sessions, arrays of social activities and scores of breakouts or deep-dives, the successful digital/virtual event calls for a different format—one that puts the highlights front and center and makes the balance of content available on-demand to specific, interested audiences.
We like to call it “Two Hours of Magic.” It’s the distilling of many hours of corporate vision, news, product launches, demos, initiative announcements and more into a tight, dynamic two-hour “streaming broadcast” broken into various bite-sized segments. This ensures the audience stays engaged—riveted—with the biggest news, the most promising new products, the strongest, most intriguing demos. Perhaps there’s even some big-name entertainment tied to a promotion or corporate philanthropy. Key goals: Optimize the balance of 1) what needs to be communicated during this virtual “general session” and 2) deeper audience engagement, with a specific focus on the audience’s virtual experience.
Mix it Up, Keep it Tight.
Going virtual unlocks tons of new opportunities. New ways to engage, new formats to explore, new ideas to try. We often read about how short attention spans are these days; now, we can work that to your advantage!
Dynamic graphics, “shot on iPhone” style videos, TED-style keynotes, geo-agnostic panel discussions (no travel!), “on location” reports from regions/geographies, emcees and anchors, and more.
It is essential, however, that a clear strategy is formed, objectives are articulated, and the program architecture developed with these guideposts in mind. While going virtual provides a significant opportunity, efforts must be focused.
Consider pushing content out IN ADVANCE
Now here’s something that might surprise. When moving to a virtual/digital platform, it might make good business sense to deliver much of the deep-dive and breakout content BEFORE the actual engagement. Why? Because doing so drives deeper, stickier experiences and optimizes the effectiveness of your live streaming investment. Audiences are more knowledgeable, more connected and more likely to exhibit positive behavioral action. All good things.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It feels good to say; it feels good to hear. It isn’t only the events team, meeting planners, corporate executives and content generators having to change things up when going virtual; the audience is experiencing something new as well. Expressing gratitude—to team members, partners, executives, content generators and particularly your audience—advances in a positive way the collaborative spirit that fuels a successful pivot from a live to a digital/virtual experience.