Care and Feeding of Your Content

As we highlighted in the post, The Why and How of Federal Event Attendance, content is truly king. The topic is the driving force for getting people to register and attend an event. Knowing attendees are there to learn, how can event planners ensure attendees have a great experience and are able to digest and use the information presented? We've pulled together a quick tip list to think about when organizing your next event.

  • Can you see me now - check the lighting and sight lines to make sure the audience is able to clearly see the presenter as well as their slides. If possible, test the room set up at the same time of day that your event will be happening. In rooms with ambient light, shadows shift throughout the day. Additionally, it's important to check lighting for the presenters - they should have enough light on stage to be able to read their notes but not too much that they can't see/read the audience.
  • Mic check 1-2 - nothing is more aggravating than sound that is too quiet, too loud or has feedback. While there will almost always be audio glitches during an event, minimize issues by testing all microphones prior to each use and have AV support in the room should something happen during the talk.
  • The presentation is in the mail - attendees are there for the content so make it available after the event. Let attendees know you will email them access to the presentations so they do not have to worry about photographing slides to refer to later.
  • Spell check twice, distribute once - since slides are being disseminated, it is even more critical to spell check and proof every presentation. A typo that may get overlooked on the screen during an engaging presentation will stick out when people study the information closer on their own screens.
  • Reuse and recycle - don't let the learning stop at the event. Take the content presented and find ways to share it after the fact through blog posts, videos/video clips, podcasts, infographics, and more. Doing so will broaden the reach of your event and message beyond the in-person attendees.

Let us know your ideas for how to highlight your content before, during, and after your events. Share your thoughts in the comments.

If You Build It They Will Come? Not Always. Converting Registrants to Attendees

When we surveyed our GovEvents' organizer members in the fall, we asked an open-ended question, "What is your biggest challenge as an event organizer in the government space?" We received a wide variety of answers, but the response that came up most often was converting registrants to attendees.

This conversion challenge is not unique to the government market but may be exacerbated by the fact that so many events are free for government attendees. On average, free events see a conversion rate of 40% to 50% of registrants actually attending. Continue reading

Government Event Market Remains Consistent

Last month we surveyed GovEvents' organizer members to get a pulse on what they are seeing in the government events' market. The common theme we found is that the environment for government events seems to be stable and unchanging.

This is good news in the wake of the GSA event scandal that dealt a big hit to the government events' market in 2012 and 2013, but should we get comfortable with this status quo? First, let's look at some of the stats:

  • 61% of respondents said they are planning the same number of events as they did a year ago.
  • 42% of organizations said they are spending the same amount of money on events as they did last year.
  • 57% of respondents said that attendance at events is about the same as it was a year ago with 29% noting a rise.[Tweet "GovEvents Survey Findings: Government Event Market Remains Consistent. #GovEventsBlog"]

These findings were similar to those discovered by Market Connections earlier this year. In that survey of government employees, the results showed that event attendance continued to be flat for the last couple of years after seeing an uptick after the issues around the GSA event were addressed. Continue reading

The Case of the Disappearing Links

While we were at the AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition a couple of weeks ago, we heard from a number of attendees that they have had trouble accessing information from emails because of a change in policy at DoD. New email security measures within DoD and throughout the federal agencies are taking live links out of emails (stripping links) and, in some cases, removing characters from the URLs. This means even if you copy and paste the web address it may not work if there are missing characters.[Tweet "New email policies at DoD/federal agencies are removing links/URLs from messages. #GovEventsBlog"]

The motivation behind this is likely to thwart foreign hacking attempts and phishing schemes where hackers will send an email that looks like it is from an official/legitimate source but contains links that, when clicked, take users to sites with malicious code.  We've written here before about the need to educate all employees, not just those in IT, as to their role in cyber security. Simply removing access to links does little to educate people about their role in protecting government data and systems.

While we applaud the effort to step up security, the practice of link stripping is concerning for all involved. Federal employees shared their frustrations with their inability to navigate to information they need to stay informed, be it a news article, registration for a training opportunity, or to download a whitepaper.[Tweet "Federal employees shared their frustrations with this new practice of link stripping. #GovEventsBlog"]

We encourage our members to communicate concerns to their IT departments and we'll do our part in talking to IT managers as well. But as we all know, policy, once enacted, is hard to change. So how do we work around this new reality? A couple ideas:

  • Make key events or news visible and accessible from your home page. If you are trying to drive people to a specific link, "advertise" it on your homepage. Email recipients may not be able to get to the exact page, but they should be able to find your home page and get to the info contained in an email message.
  • Look for other venues to drive people to links. If your audience cannot access links to your content at work, see how you can drive them via more "personal" channels. Look into Facebook ad campaigns or upping the number of posts you put on Twitter and/or LinkedIn.
  • Think about plain text. Everything old may be new again. While it may not be as pretty, plain text emails may help get better conversion rates. You can also try a mix of HTML, where in addition to the embedded links, you also list the URLs within the message.

We'd love to hear your feedback. For our government users, have you found a work around to stripped links? Let us know in the comments.

Tactics to Drive Webinar Registrations

web_registerWith readily available and user-friendly technology, webinars are easy to produce. The hard part is getting people to register. Your topic may be interesting and your speaker may be engaging, but with most webinars being free to attend and requiring no commitment in terms of travel, it is hard to get people to commit to attending. [Tweet "Webinars are easy to produce. The hard part is getting people to register and attend. #GovEventsBlog"]They may see your email advertising the event pop up in their email box but there is no sense of urgency to register nor is there a driving force to attend since they (usually) do not need to commit money or a huge block of time. So how do you get people to register and then (more importantly) attend your webinars? We've looked around the web for advice and added some of our own in this quick tip list. [Tweet "Tips to drive registrations AND get people to attend your webinars. #GovEventsBlog"] Continue reading