Pivoting Your Event During Uncertainty
Although change is inevitable, let’s face it. Many of us are thinking: “I didn’t sign up for this. A pandemic? Here we are, more than two years later, and we’re still feeling the effects?” The uncertainty alone is enough to make us turn to the Magic 8-Ball for answers.
"Should I still have a live event?"
(Briskly shakes the Magic 8-Ball)
"It is decidedly so."
And there you have it. The decision has been made. Okay, maybe you’re a little more strategic in your decision making than shaking a Magic 8-Ball! So let’s talk about strategy, shifting direction, and adapting while planning your next corporate event.
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave footprints throughout virtually all industries, event planners around the globe are still working hard to manage the disruption. They are faced with tough decisions that must be made quickly. All options need to be weighed to achieve a successful – or dare I say, even a powerful event while practicing safety precautions.
Considerable planning must be done now to drive your message and brand home at your event. With thoughtful planning and execution, you’ll need to balance these short-term issues we’re facing with your long-term goals.
Where to Begin?
Start with a “people-first” mindset. Walk a mile in the shoes of your attendees, your partners, and your workforce. What do your attendees need right now? How can you achieve your event goals while also leveraging your partners and their offerings? Did your partners pivot? How? Have you collaborated with your team to uncover new ideas for your event?
Adapt, Survive and Thrive.
Event planners must understand their challenges and adapt rapidly, holding their ground on the objectives for their event. Your company’s core values don’t change, so the objective here isn’t only to “adapt and survive”, we must come out on the other side of this hitting our targets and thriving. We must act now, going full tilt with confidence, commitment, and focus.
Address the problem, adjust your direction, uncover opportunities and be creative.
Postpone, Cancel or Revise?
Assuming you have already somewhat pivoted your event strategy to cope with the impact of COVID-19, it is time to reassess. If this happened again, what would the short and long-term impact be to your organization if you canceled altogether? Postponed? What about a blended event? What are the current safety concerns? Have you prepared well in advance?
Whatever you decide (you now know just how quickly our world can change), are you and your company poised to have a safe and fully live, virtual (aka “digital”) or hybrid event at the ready? Build campaigns now to address the shift and have them ready to implement. Don’t be stuck with a “Ready. Fire. Aim!” approach if you’re caught off-guard by the next curve ball.
Consider Digitally Enabled Experiences
Now more than ever, companies need powerful, buzz-worthy events. In fact, this pandemic has forced the industry’s hand to be more creative and more resourceful with more of a need to innovate ways to engage their customers than ever. Virtual events can be extremely engaging and effective, as companies exercise never-before considered options for their audiences’ digital experiences.
Your corporate event buzz and promotional opportunities will last long after the event has wrapped through various online channels. You can share the experiences via event highlight emails, exciting highlight videos and creative social media posts.
Your Budget Must Also Pivot.
Move your budget dollars to the most impactful components of your event project. If you’re not feeding a large group or hosting sessions at your fully live venue just yet, then fund high quality, effective campaigns to create hype and increase attendance. Work closely with a creative corporate event production agency that will watch your budget and provide you with new ideas to save money and ensure your event is a home run. Set your event up on a turn-key digital event platform. Ultimately, you are looking for those air high-fives among your team and partners after the event has concluded.
Establish Agility with Blended Events
A blended, or hybrid event is one of the most agile approaches we can take during a pandemic. This option provides a real-time opportunity to explore and balance the most impactful ways to reach and engage your audience. During a pandemic, an invisible enemy is a moving target, wreaking havoc on the norm, so we must work to stay two steps ahead of it by carefully balancing our options. A well-executed hybrid event includes the perfect blend of technology, planning and creativity.
Establish clear-cut objectives for your event and then collaborate with your production partners. By now, your production partners should have proven themselves adaptable. Meet with your internal team and discuss how to drive consistent messaging while achieving each of your goals for the event. Stick to your objectives and be open to new ideas for new content-rich experiences, methods for engaging your audience and opportunities to connect.
In Summary...Why Pivot?
As we are working through this pandemic, we must consider fundamental changes to the way we serve up events. We must focus on meeting the new needs of our customers while maximizing new opportunities.
I once had a boxer named Pivot. I named him that because his spine had been injured during birth and his back legs didn’t work at all. It took several months for him to regain full use of them. Until then, little Pivot would sit on his bottom and yap and squeak and spin around, oblivious that he was anything but perfect and adorable and excited about absolutely everything in life. It is with at least a spark of this enthusiasm that I hope you will find cause to pivot with your event – and see the new opportunities that lie before you. Your event is not handicapped; you have new and exciting opportunities to develop and nurture meaningful connections with your customers. Go ahead. Use Pivot as your inspiration – he’d be happy to help!