How much time do you need to produce a virtual and/or hybrid event? (Additional Content)
Editor's Note: This is a guest post contribution from Jeff Starr, a Senior Producer at TRADEMARK. Author bylines and information are found at the end of the post.
When we last posted about virtual event planning timelines, we were at the 16-20 week milestone. By that time, you should have completed:
- Choosing MeetingPlay as your platform and best partner to support your vision
- Guest/keynote speaker selection and promotion
- Sponsor prospectus
- Save the date, agenda, and microsite
Now comes the fun part: Promotion, Gamification, Engagement, and Other Considerations
Virtual/Hybrid Event Timeline: 20 - 16 Weeks Out
Getting the Word Out Through Media, Social, Promotions, and Sales
Depending on your internal resources, the disposition of your Sales team, and the alignment of several planets, your promotions schedule can be challenging. Your events promotions should be coordinated with corporate campaigns and your design department, too, so it helps to sit down with all stakeholders early to map out a schedule.
- Media plan: Whether third-party or in-house, meet with your media team to identify your personas and how to market to them. They should be able to recommend spends over a series of weeks or months, plus the frequency of outreach.
- Content plan: Work with corporate communications or agencies on a communications plan and determine what content is needed to fulfill it.
Hint #1 for success: If your keynote speakers are a big draw, work with the speaker bureaus during the negotiation phase to ensure that pre-event headshots, Tweets or Instagram posts are part of the contract!
- Customer testimonials, video clips: If your event is recurring, use snippets from a past event’s sizzle reel or a customer or partner testimonial as part of your campaign.
16 - 8 Weeks Out
MeetingPlay offers several resources, such as the Ultimate Guide to Virtual Event Engagement, detailing how to build community before, during and after events. You’ll notice that many best-in-class events have devoted significant time to pre-event activities. Consider some of these:
- Give back opportunities: Host a contest related to daily step counts, random acts of kindness, or other community-based activities that can be logged on an app or the MeetingPlay platform.
- Networking and Q&A: One event we coordinated had open roundtables based on subjects of interest submitted by attendees pre-event. Another idea: activate MeetingPlay’s live Q&A to allow speakers and attendees to continue the conversation!
- Photo booths: MeetingPlay’s photobooth allows attendees to upload fun photos and share them with others.
- Badges and awards: MeetingPlay also provides customized stickers, badges, and other assets to recognize affiliations and accomplishments.
8 Weeks Out
Virtual events provide several opportunities for gamification. But remember to reward engagement rather than mere competitiveness. This trick is to offer prizes that reinforce why your attendees are there in the first place!
- Everyone wins: Here’s what you don’t want: complaints about the games not being fair. Here are some ideas to ensure everyone plays for the right reasons:
- Create a grid of all the possible ways that attendees can participate, assigning points to each area. Then cap the possible points in each area. This way, your most competitive attendees will likely run up points early and then pay attention to the event.
- Enter top earners into a raffle and make one of the prizes airfare and admission to next year’s in person event!
- Enter anyone who hits a threshold of a certain number of points into a raffle to win prizes at a mid-range level, such as noise-canceling headphones and gaming consoles.
- Swag: Just because it’s a virtual event doesn’t mean you can’t offer swag. Consider prizes that attendees can download themselves or sponsors can drop ship!
We hope that this blog series on event planning timelines helps your internal teams and partners align around milestones, and why you need deliverables at certain key points. If you have any questions about how working with a creative agency, event production team, or MeetingPlay, ask your MeetingPlay sales rep for guidance!
Today’s guest blog post comes from Jeff Starr, a Senior Producer at TRADEMARK, a creative agency that produces live, virtual and hybrid events and has helped several MeetingPlay clients manage their productions. Jeff Starr, Sr Producer, Trademark.