An Expert Panel on Redefining Virtual Events
Creating virtual events that people actually want to watch is the new daily challenge facing the event industry. Luckily, Live Nation Special Events has brought together some of the brightest minds in event planning to start the conversation on redefining virtual events.
Our team of event production, creative marketing and venue panelists took the stage at The Fillmore Philadelphia and The Met Philadelphia to showcase innovative ways to reimagine events and, most importantly, explore what’s next. They shared lessons learned, explored inspirational ideas for creative event solutions and collected tips & best practices for creating virtual events that stand out from the crowd.
The Virtual Events Panel
We invited Katie Everett, President of Katalyst Productions, and Ashlee Hollis, President of Helm Creative Studio to join our very own Gretchen McHale and Jeff Rugg to talk about virtual events for a live-streamed online discussion.
Helm Creative Studio and Katalyst Productions have partnered to create a totally in-house, full service virtual event production agency. They’ve combined their expertise in program development, creative storytelling, digital content development, event production, live-streaming, partnership development and marketing.
As leaders on the Live Nation Special Events team, Gretchen and Jeff both know exactly what it takes to successfully navigate the gap from live to virtual or hybrid events. As two of the leading voices in event planning, Katie and Ashlee are in a unique position to share insights into better serving the continuously evolving needs of clients.
Key Insights: It’s A Live Event Mind Shift
Live events have a fluid, last-minute decision-making process, but virtual events don’t have that luxury. Learning to flip the timeline is essential for success. Make the big decisions upfront so when you’re planning for a virtual event, the major elements are already in place. Know the key storyline and the messaging early so you can craft a virtual experience around them.
Key Insights: Lead With Storytelling
The number one goal of a virtual event is to have the audience feel something. Find those moments and threads that weave through a virtual event and make people feel connected to the mission of the organization or the product that’s being launched. Try to understand and anticipate how people are inspired and engaged.
Key Insights: Evolve Your Strategy
Rethink the way you're serving your clients by evolving your strategy. Update your products and services to ensure they’re relevant. For example, Live Nation Special Events has developed five responsible event formats: virtual, hybrid, regional, micro, and drive-in. These are scalable formats that mix live and virtual events while reimagining their venue spaces in creative new ways. Anticipate your clients’ needs and get out in front of them with innovative solutions.
Key Insights: Event Programming is Essential
Polished programming is essential to create a compelling virtual event. Live events feature a captive audience, but virtual events come with distractions - your guests could be parenting, folding laundry, or doing any number of other things while they watch. Condensed and engaging content is critical to getting attention early and keeping it. The burnout rate for event styles and formats is shorter as event planners borrow successful ideas from each other - what’s great now might not be relevant next week. Keep educating yourself , talk to people and find the next new trend or twist so that your content doesn’t become repetitive.
Virtual Events Don’t Have To Be A Glorified Zoom Call
We’ve been thrust into a virtual world. We’re on dozens of calls per week. Don’t let your virtual event get lost among them! The live event-caliber experience that your clients are used to doesn’t have to be sacrificed when you go virtual. Take your virtual event to the next level with creative ways to engage your audience. Remember, it’s all about the experience - and we don’t want to lose that when we transition from live event to virtual. Find unique interactive ways to immerse and transport your guests. Mailing swag bags, branded merch or even catering to your guests’ homes is a great way to create a shared experience and a connection to the event.
Lighten The Lift
One of the biggest benefits you can provide the client right now is to “lighten the lift” - that is, to take as much of the work out of the virtual event process as possible for your client. “We’ve got that”, “We have a resource for that”, and “We have a vendor or partner for that'' are the new mentality for serving clients right now. Things like one-sheets on remote etiquette and recommendations on which iPhone settings provide the best video quality go a long way towards creating the best possible virtual event experience for clients.
Marketing, Promotion And Sponsorship Are No Longer Local
Geography is nowhere near as important as it used to be as the transition to virtual has removed boundaries for sponsorship opportunities. At its foundation, marketing and promoting an event are about creating a conversation and connection between the event and its sponsors. Partners who used to be out-of-market are now great options to help enrich events because we’re no longer restricted to the limitations of travel and physical space. When it comes to sponsoring your next event, think global.
New Opportunities For Event Sponsors
One of the biggest differences in switching from live to virtual events lies in finding organic opportunities to highlight your sponsors. Start by identifying every single place within a virtual event where you can incorporate sponsors. Logo lockups, title cards, branded lower thirds, pre & post screens, scrolling credits and sponsor spotlight messages are just a few. Know your clients’ goals - no matter what they're looking to achieve, it starts with a brainstorm and a discovery session. Look into how you can reach their goals in a way that makes the most sense and leverages the resources that you already have.
Get More Mileage Out Of Your Content
Your virtual event can be way more than just one night. Be sure to put systems in place to capture evergreen content as you plan your event so that you’ll have an entire bank of resources that you can all use all year. A few quick editing sessions can turn your event footage into branding opportunities that will last well beyond the event itself, broadening your marketing opportunities and the longevity of the work you’re doing.
It’s not either/or, it’s both and more. That amazing maxim comes to us from the Helm and Katalyst partnership, and it’s never been truer. As guidelines and restrictions evolve, we’re in a great position to help our clients be more creative, think outside and above the box and come up with new ways to reinvent the event concept. All of our panelists agree - our industry has never seen greater challenges, but this will be our best season yet as we bring the very best of live and virtual events together.
Watch The Entire Conversation
For more insights on how to redefine your next virtual event, watch the entire conversation between Live Nation Special Events and Helm X Katalyst below:
To book your next responsible event, contact Live Nation Special Events today.