Ask CEMA Live-Webinar

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CEMA Members Share Insights and Advice on “The Pivot” at the first “Ask CEMA Live!” Webinar

More than 400 event professionals participated in our first “Ask CEMA Live!” webinar on April 9.  An expert CEMA member panel shared views and advice on how to manage the pivot from physical to virtual events in the new “low-touch” reality.

Moderated by Jimmy Ervin, founder and president of Velocity, the expert panel featured Colleen Bisconti, vice president of global conferences & events, IBM, Diana Cam, senior director, partner marketing, Workiva and Sara Straw, senior manager, event program strategy, Sage.

Panelists shared the status of their events programs, most of which have been cancelled or postponed until later in the year. The discussion shifted to how we evaluate whether or not a physical event can be re-cast as a virtual one, and how to best manage the pivot.

There was consensus that we can’t just take physical events, drop them into virtual platforms and expect everything to be the same. It’s important to deconstruct face-to-face events and identify the  elements that really drive business impact, and attendee experience and value.  According to the panel, the elements that shift to digital may vary based on event structure, goals, and requirements. A successful pivot requires being creative and realistic about which ones can be made virtual in a meaningful way.

Our experts identified core experiential “buckets” that can be used to design the right platform, user interface, content formats and interactive  environments to deliver them digitally.

  • Delivering core content: How do we make sure our attendees have the robust content from keynotes and breakout sessions they need to take back to their businesses; how do we translate main stage activities and key announcements for a virtual environment, and how do we translate energy, excitement, anticipation – the human impact of live a presentation  –  to a digital environment?
  • Attendees professional development: how do we ensure that we are delivering educational and technical content effectively in a way that informs, educates and helps attendees build skills?
  • Networking: people go to events to meet with customers, peers, experts, and solutions providers. How do we facilitate networking in a meaningful way and in particular, how do we bring value to our partners and sponsors?
  • Attendee engagement: people at home in front of a screen have myriad distractions and are prone to multitasking. How do we keep attendees engaged during a digital event?
  • Marketing: Promotion must also pivot in line with how we engage attendees in a digital way. The messaging is not the same as marketing a face-to-face event. We have to convince people that there’s still value in participating.  It’s a challenge, especially when event marketers lack digital skills and digital experts don’t understand events. We need to embrace dual education.

The panel also discussed the probability that hybrid face-to-face events with digital extensions will become a long-term model for event marketers, even if we return to a scaleable level in live events. As these models evolve, they will open up opportunities to attract new attendees and to deliver additional value to existing ones.

Our first Ask CEMA Live webinar proved to be a robust and meaningful exchange — a shining example of how the event marketing community comes together to enrich each other and help each other out.

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April 9, 2020



Posted On

April 7, 2020