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The Show Must Go On – How to Convert Your Event to Online

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Innovation, not hibernation. With the country in lockdown, it’s an uncertain time ahead (don’t worry, we won’t mention the C-word) but if you’re a business this doesn’t mean that your event has to be cancelled. 

What are the problems and how can they be solved?

Businesses are hosting events that will not be able to continue… in the traditional sense. Treat this with sensitivity and look at it as an opportunity. People are in lockdown and their spirits need boosting. Give them something to look forward to and plan into their days. 

How can I convert an event to online with limited time? 

Recent events have been completely unprecedented. The key things to think about are:

  • Can you find a place to host the event from (i.e. via video conference) that won’t be shut down? For example, this could be from a home office.  
  • Has your technology got the capacity to host a large online video event? This means checking your WiFi’s bandwidth (this can’t be altered). If you don’t have the capacity, consider supplying supporting documents and engaging social media content (such as quizzes and polls on Instagram Stories) until you can host the event online or in person. 
  • Communication is key. This means communication within your team and with your event attendees/clients, as it is crucial at times like these. Your team will be best prepared if you keep the lines of communication open. Reassure your clients and above all, be honest with your team, and your attendees.

How can I convert an event to online with a limited budget?

We understand that these are challenging financial times for businesses and individuals. However, converting an event online doesn’t have to cost the earth or lose you attendees. There are plenty of free platforms for hosting events online. Some of our favourites are:

  • Facebook Watch Parties – this is a useful way of getting out information to your audience, as well as giving an alternative event experience online. Watch Parties are one of the best resources for building a sense of community, which can be a challenge to overcome with online events. Facebook Watch Parties mean that the community can watch videos together and interact with them in real time. 
  • Zoom – if you’re hosting a small event of up to 100 people then use the free version. Extra participants can be added on for an additional cost but this is an effective way of moving an event online.
  • Skype – this is another good platform for smaller focus groups. Up to 50 people can be involved in a Skype call with the speaker. Due to the reduced number of people who are allowed on the free version, this is good for smaller break-out sessions and discussion groups. Extra sessions with speakers could also be considered if there is high demand.

How can I keep people updated?

With the current situation, government guidelines can change daily. We recommend putting updates on the existing channels used to organise your event, plus  newsletters, e-flyers, and social media posts. Eventbrite is also an effective platform for getting the word out about events. Bonus – it’s free for free events. 

Be open to answering questions on social media and this is where a crisis comms plan is crucial. Some questions will be around updates and logistics, while some will have more emotion behind them. Remember that it is a difficult time for everyone and anticipating some of the more challenging questions, as well as constructing an honest and thoughtful answer will help your brand image. Our very own Queen of Comms, Claire Snook is offering  free crisis comms advice sessions, which are available to sign up to now.

Keeping people updated isn’t just about events. UK lockdown has approximately doubled the UK’s internet usage. Now, more than ever, it is important to step up your social media presence. You could create a daily theme, such as work from home set-up, or you could share uplifting news. Humour can be used but be cautious about your tone. You know your audience best, so think about how your tone will be perceived by them. Now is the right time to step up your social media because when the world has gone back to normal, your brand awareness will have increased. In your content writing, focus on being uplifting, kind, and understanding. 
How can we help you? As a growing business ourselves, we want to know how we can support fellow businesses. If you have any questions about the advice given in this blog, you want to talk to us about PR and digital marketing, or if you just need a kind word, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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