Events may not be in person these days due to COVID-19, but thanks to services such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live and more, the meeting (and the party) goes on! Moving forward, many events will continue to be virtual, or look very different, as we gradually emerge from social distancing restrictions.
At Fort Lauderdale- and Aspen-based public relations and special events agency Durée & Company, our expertise ― and creativity ― in special events is coming in handy during these unusual times. With gala season approaching, things will be different, and it’s important to be prepared for the new normal.
Virtual events are effective components to any public relations strategy! There are many positives to hosting virtual events, including that attendees can tune in from anywhere around the world and from the comfort of their homes. Different types of events that you can host include concerts, town hall meetings, nonprofit fundraisers, art classes and exhibitions, conferences and expos, food and beverage tastings, workouts and more.
Here are the Durée & Company Dynamos’ best practices for hosting virtual events:
Before the Event:
- Develop a Strategy and Goals for What You Hope to Get Out of the Event:
- Timing: Research other events to ensure that you’re not hosting at the same time as a competitor. Ask your audience for time and date suggestions ― go with when most people will be available.
- Speakers: Determine if you need a host, ― someone who will be personable and introduce speakers. Then, decide who will speak. Will you need one speaker or multiple speakers? You can even utilize celebrity speakers to attract attendees. Next, decide on what they will speak about, and create an outline of topics and talking points.
Keep in mind, speakers must be comfortable presenting live in front of a remote audience. They will not have a script because virtual events are live! They should be able to speak clearly and efficiently, be knowledgeable about the subject, and answer any questions.
- Venue: Decide on the location. You can host the event from a home, office or venue. Depending on the type of event, you may need to find a venue with a stage, a podium and audio/visual equipment. Ensure that the background is clear and well-lit!
- Run of show: Create a run of show with a timeline of the virtual event
- Define the Format: Virtual events come in many formats ― one person could take the stage, or the event could be similar to a trade show or workshop with an activity. It’s key to create a unique experience that is different from that of your competitors. If your budget allows, hire a professional to help with the behind-the-scenes operations. Find the event type that aligns best with your brand.
- Choose the Best Platform for Your Event: Most livestreaming services have the same basic features, including video, audio and options to display your screen or a presentation. Do a free trial on various platforms before the event to determine which one works best. Some include Zoom Webinar, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live, Google Hangouts and more.
- Promote the Event: Think of creative ways to make your brand and event stand out.
- Social media: Leading up to the event, post about it on social media to promote it and garner ticket sales. Social media posts can be linked to other content, such as speaker bios, blogs, videos, and even a tutorial on how to log into the livestream. Use a custom hashtag to promote the event, and encourage others to do the same.
- E-blasts: Send these before the event to promote awareness.
- Media exposure: Research media outlets that cover the topic of your event and create a targeted media list. Pitch media for pre-event coverage and invite them to attend. Offer a key source from the brand to do media interviews. Use Zoom, Skype or FaceTime to do the interviews.
- Prepare for Tech Troubles: Conduct a test run before the event, and make sure all audio and visual components are working properly. Log in to the event 30 minutes early to prepare and troubleshoot.
During the Event:
- Be on Standby for Potential Tech Troubles: Designate someone to assist in the event there are problems. Have a back-up plan if something does go wrong.
- Encourage Engagement: Give attendees an opportunity to ask the speaker questions. Ask them to submit questions ahead of time. Ensure that the event is informational and entertaining.
After the Event:
- Give Thanks: following the event, be sure to send a thank-you email to attendees.
- Use Social Media: Encourage attendees to share their experience on social media using a custom hashtag. Also use the custom hashtag to disseminate event footage on your social channels and through an e-blast.
- Blog About It: Share pictures, testimonials and key takeaways from the event.
- Gain Post-Event Media Coverage: Follow up with members of the media who attended the virtual event to thank them for their participation and to share press assets. Make sure you also reach out to those in the media who were unable to attend. You’ll want to give them press materials from the event and offer them an interview with a spokesperson.
Your event can be impactful ― even virtually! You just need the right tips and tools to do it. Contact us at Durée & Company to help you create your memorable virtual event.
About Durée & Company
Durée & Company, Inc. is an award-winning, full-service public relations, marketing and special events firm founded in 1999. The firm has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Aspen, Colorado. Durée & Company serves the corporate, agency and nonprofit arenas for local, national and international clients. Services include public relations, social media, marketing, content development, advertising, special events, branding, radio promotions and more. Durée & Company clients include well-known names in business, fashion, hospitality, travel, wellness and CBD, marine and yacht, art and culture, nonprofit organizations, legal and professional services and real estate. Durée & Company is a member of PR Boutiques International™ (PRBI), an international network of boutique PR firms. To learn more, go to https://dureeandcompany.com/; call 954-723-9350; or visit Durée & Company on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DureeCoPR/, Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/dureecopr Twitter at https://twitter.com/dureecopr, LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/dureecopr or YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/DureeAndCompany.