John Kaplan is Group Creative Director at Centerline Digital, a content marketing agency focused on strategic and digital content based in Raleigh, NC. In his role, Kaplan works directly with clients, architecting creative solutions that address business challenges and needs while also driving results.
When Events Get Canceled: 5 Ways to Deliver a Company Message You Intended to Share In-Person
Life happens. From unexpected weather to a global health crisis, a host of forces outside of our control can jeopardize our planning. The recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak shines a lens on this reality. In the wake of the cancellation of large events, such as Mobile World Congress, Facebook Global Marketing Summit, and Google I/O, enterprise brands are scrambling to find alternative ways to share important announcements—announcements they had hoped to make in-person.
The “obvious” answer might be to create a webinar or to livestream a presentation. But these experiences are prone to technical difficulties and often leave viewers uninspired. Instead, businesses should consider more creative ways to share company news, by leveraging innovative technology and storytelling best practices. There is no perfect replacement for the magic of a live moment, but alternatives do have benefits, including cost-savings, more control, and reduced risk and pressure for speakers.
Here are five ideas B2B brands can use to convey important company news in the wake of an unexpected event cancellation.
1. Take to the stage (then add graphics)
A Large Format Stage Presentation combines footage of presenters on stage with engaging graphics and videos that are added in the post-production process. It is a huge step beyond sharing a PowerPoint with a voice-over, and a more cinematic take on delivering a company message.
To mimic the energy and scale of a live event, an LFSP is filmed at a large theater venue with multiple cameras. Companies and their production partners use a custom green screen to replace the back of the stage. Then, in the editing process, the green screen is replaced with relevant visuals to augment the speaker’s message and keep audiences interested.
You will lose the thrill of a live audience, but these staged events have merit, particularly when speakers are delivering complicated messages, or when getting the verbiage right is paramount. Since the LFSP isn’t live-streamed, speakers can use multiple takes to nail their delivery. The production team will ensure the video feels authentic while reflecting the speakers’ best performance.
Companies can also consider supplementing the presentation with a live Q&A session so audiences can ask questions, as they would during a webinar, after the presentation.
2. Add new elements to your keynote
Sometimes filming a keynote, TED Talks-style, makes the most sense for circulating company news. But companies should improve audience engagement by adding interactive features. For example, a business could host discussions about the announcement on the video landing page or on social media, moderated by subject matter experts and/or people from the brand. Businesses can also use polling features to glean valuable feedback from audiences while keeping them engaged.
3. Switch up the format
With your message, audience, and time and budget constraints top-of-mind, consider creative storytelling formats you could use to share your news. For example, an enterprise could leverage a late-night talk show format, in which a host brings up guests—companies executives, partners or clients—to share key messaging. This playful approach allows multiple thought leaders to shine and engages the audience in a way that feels at once familiar and novel. If budget allows, consider securing an industry expert outside of your company to serve as your host.
This approach can be especially effective for B2B companies sharing technical news, as it keeps audiences engaged even as content gets complicated or detail-oriented.
4. Find the right media partner
To reach a wider audience and drum up awareness about company news, enterprises can partner with a relevant publication to launch creative marketing campaigns. Consider a site takeover that includes banner and video advertising and branded content plays. Note, this tactic works best when the announcement is truly newsworthy, and when the partnering publication has credibility and relevance to your audience.
5. Go back to where you started
If you planned to make an announcement at a major event that was canceled or that you can no longer attend, reach out to the event brand for solutions. Often, event companies have opportunities to reach their audience of attendees and prospects, such as branded newsletters or apps. For example, MWC recently launched MWC Shorts, short videos that bring together innovators and experts from the mobile ecosystem. You will still connect with the conference audience and associate your company with the event brand, but you can create the video remotely.
Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control jeopardize the in-person moment you had been planning. But the show must go on. There are ways to customize and tailor virtual meetings, and to convey important news in novel, engaging formats that drive engagement. While there is no perfect substitute for a canceled event, these alternatives have unique benefits and can prove as effective, or even more effective, than your original plan.