Event marketing has undergone seismic shifts in the last two years. At the beginning of the pandemic, when events that were once live and in-person went completely virtual, companies had to adapt to the challenges of producing quality experiences for people logging in from screens around the world.
Then, as vaccination rates rose and many people began feeling eager to gather and safe enough to do so, hybrid events grew in popularity. These events, which bring together both in-person and virtual attendees to experience live content, are in many ways more challenging to plan and execute than solely in-person or solely virtual events. That's because event marketing managers essentially have to plan and execute two productions for two audiences who have very different needs and expectations.
While many event marketing managers are producing hybrid events for the first time, at Crawford Group, we are now working on more hybrid events than ever. And for all we've learned, we can confirm that 1) hybrid event marketing is constantly changing and 2) the most successful event marketing managers are the ones who can quickly pivot and adapt.
Read on to discover three things we learned from our last hybrid marketing event.
Client: A leading financial, software, data, and media company headquartered in New York City
1. Your Virtual and In-person Event Teams Need to Team Up
As we mentioned in our blog Top Tips for Planning a Hybrid Event, since hybrid events are essentially two events in one, it's recommended you have two different teams in place. You'll need an event marketing manager, a producer, a content manager, and a technical producer for each phase of the event, in-person and virtual.
Recently, we learned how crucial it is that both teams are well-versed in all aspects of the event. As an example, at our last hybrid event, an in-person "Meet the speaker" session had to be canceled at the last minute. But because our two event teams were aligned, the in-person event team knew that they could offer their attendees the option of joining the virtual session during the same time slot. Since both teams were well versed in the schedule, they solved the unexpected issue promptly.
2. Make A Practice Of Staging Practice Runs
Whether you're in charge of hybrid a user conference, product launch, or trade show event marketing, great events are a hallmark of a great brand. Keep in mind your attendees are likely taking time away from work to experience your content; it's essential that your event runs smoothly, and they get the maximum value for their time.
To that end, we've found that thorough pre-event walkthroughs are essential for hybrid events — and you'll need all hands on deck. For example, during a walkthrough before our last event, when a virtual speaker could not share her screen, proceedings were delayed to track down a technical resource to help her resolve things offline. So from here on out, we'll identify where each staff member will be and what they'll be doing at each phase of the event to eliminate redundancies and ensure sufficient coverage.
Be sure to rehearse the end-to-end in-person speaker experience, the in-person attendee experience, the virtual speaker experience, and the virtual attendee experience to identify gaps, troubleshoot possible issues, and answer any questions. Something almost always comes up, so it's better to identify and fix it during a practice run than to scramble during your live event.
3. Always Have A Backup Plan
At our last hybrid event, a technical glitch prevented us from streaming a short video during one of our virtual sessions. (Everything had worked fine during rehearsals!) This only reinforced how important it is to have a backup plan in place. In our case, we were able to have a speaker step in to relay the video messages verbally. But as hybrid event marketing managers, we all need to know what we'll do in cases like these:
- A virtual session must be canceled
- A speaker runs late or cancels
- An in-person session needs to cancel streaming
- A virtual speaker can't connect or drops off mid-session
- A virtual technician drops out
Encourage your team to prepare a Plan B for any scenario, so the overall experience remains positive and fulfilling for in-person and virtual attendees alike.
Crawford Group can help you plan, produce, and execute your next hybrid event
Whether you're hosting one event or a series — or multiple sessions within a larger live or virtual event setting — Crawford Group can make it happen. We empower organizations by providing a full range of event services that drive results, from pre-event planning to event production to post-event management and webinar marketing services. We can work with you to determine the right level of support for your team.