Engage Your Attendees From COVID-19 Postponed Events
As we fight the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, the new reality is that all non-essential events are being postponed for weeks (or even months) to come. This is the right decision for our health and well-being, but it can feel crushing to those who put time and energy into planning events this year, and the guests who look forward to attending them. The good news is, even if we’re not physically together we can still show support for each other. With the right tools, the right communication and the right mindset, we can find creative solutions to keep guests of COVID-19-postponed events engaged and informed.
As an event planner, you already have determination, problem-solving and ingenuity in your toolbox. Here’s a guide on how to use them during these uncertain times.
Consistent, clear messaging is vital! Begin with your internal strategy. Be sure that your starting point is in compliance with public health officials and local government. One of the biggest missteps you can make right now is contradicting or flaunting the rules put in place to flatten the curve.
Identify stakeholders (front-line staff, exhibitors, speakers, partners, key vendors, etc.) and collaborate early and often. It’s critical that everyone gets on the same page before you go public with your message. When it comes time to contact your attendees, a multi-channel approach mixing email, social, a dedicated website landing page and live streaming gives you the widest platform and the most touchpoints. If you choose any one of the above, make sure that the channel makes sense for your new event strategy.
Postpone, Don’t Cancel
All experts agree, we will get through this! DON’T cancel your event but DO postpone it to a future date when it’s likely that life will resume with normalcy. Execute a strong messaging campaign to highlight how much you appreciate your attendees' understanding and make your company available for questions. It's important to work together to share the most up to date information. Get ahead of the curve by creating graphics and drafting emails to quickly deploy to your audience and partners as updates come in.
Focus on the opportunities to plan an even better experience! When we all emerge from social distancing and quarantining, people will want to reconnect as soon as possible. Events will play a huge part in fostering a sense of community and bringing us back together.
Use A Virtual Streaming Platform
If you plan on postponing your live event, you can still use a virtual streaming platform to enhance the experience. Host a virtual pre-event as a lead-up or create a live webinar series to keep attendees engaged at regular intervals. There are a number of tools to engage your event-community online, like popular live streaming services such as Periscope, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live. If you do pivot to a virtual meeting, be sure to test the platform first and share the full list of steps (Is downloading software required? How about creating a username & password? What is the max bandwidth?) with attendees well before the meeting.
As you communicate with your team and your attendees, be sure to stay positive and inspirational. With COVID-19 news coming at us 24/7 from every angle of life, we could all use a little assurance right now. Staying calm, upbeat and hopeful will go a long way towards keeping your guests, your team and yourself fully engaged and ready to take on this challenge.