Tracking the Media Habits of Highly Effective Feds

Market Connections conducted their annual Federal Media and Marketing Study and released the findings at a breakfast event on Halloween serving up a number of treats for those involved in marketing to the Federal government (it also happened to be the morning after the Washington Nationals won the World Series, so the crowd at the DC event was in a jovial mood despite being sleep deprived). This annual survey aims to take the pulse of the media habits of those involved in buying decisions (whether they be decision makers or influencers) in the Federal government. Each year the survey looks at where Federal decision makers turn to get information related to their job and also looks at how they consume media more generally for their personal lives.

This year's survey found that event attendance is holding steady, as it has for several years, and even growing in some areas. One reason for the steady event performance may be the Feds trust in associations. Sixty percent of respondents show a high trust in professional organizations. Peers and colleagues come in a close second, with 57% trusting them as key sources of information. Events, especially those backed by a professional organization, give Federal decision makers a trusted place to interact with their fellow workers to get needed information.

Webinar attendance is increasing, with 78% of people who "attend" webinars doing so in real-time. Another 47% report watching recorded webinars during the workday. The best time to host these webinars? Anytime before 2:00PM works well with the 11:00AM to 2:00PM time block being the most preferred.

Podcasts are also gaining in mindshare in the Federal market with 48% saying they listen. However, the majority of those respondents listen to podcasts for pleasure rather than work (68% vs 32%). Also, when listening to podcasts, the majority of people (48%) skip the ads embedded within them.

In terms of what respondents want to hear, whether it is an event, webinar, or podcast, the survey found that appealing to Federal decision makers as people first rather than potential consumers of a product or service has the greatest impact. The survey found that the biggest concerns of this group were around employee morale and recruiting employees as well as funding and budget issues. They are interested in hearing how work can be made better both from a financial efficiency perspective and a day-to-day employee experience perspective.

This connection to the employee experience can impact who you invite to attend and speak at events. The panel discussion that followed the survey results talked about reaching out to the high ranking C-suite officials and continuing to invite them to attend and speak but also asking them, "who are you mentoring in your organization?" and "who else in your organization would be a great speaker or resource on this topic?" By helping Feds cultivate and showcase talent in their organization, companies can begin to earn that "trusted partner" moniker so many aspire to achieve.

For more results of the survey, visit Market Connections.

No More Poker Face – Decoding Attendees’ Real-Time Reactions

We've written here about how the government is looking at facial recognition to improve security and make access to places and data more efficient. While the policy and technology challenges are worked out within multiple government use cases, event planners can look to the same technology to improve how they deliver content and education.

As this article points out, surveys provide a snapshot of audience reaction to an event, but they do so in days, even weeks after it has wrapped. Additionally, there is a lot of effort that goes into getting survey responses back and analyzed, and even then, the sample size may not be statistically valid.

Good speakers and planners know the power of reading the room and adjusting on the fly to keep and increase audience interest and participation. But bright lights, sheer audience size, and general logistics make that problematic. Tracking social media can also provide a real-time pulse on how attendees are digesting and reacting to content. But getting this feedback is dependent on attendees using these platforms and using them in real-time. With facial and biometric technologies, event planners and marketers can remove these challenges and dependencies and collect attendee feedback without having to ask anything of those attendees.

Audience engagement tools using biometrics can identify attendees' emotions without identifying the face or person. In one implementation, video cameras mounted at the side of the stage film the facial expressions of the audience. This feed is run through AI-powered software to identify and track expressions of the people watching the stage and what emotion they are expressing (fear, anger, happiness, etc.). A raw look at this data is available, but within a couple of minutes the software can more fully analyze it and provide a quick view if the audience is reacting positively or negatively.

Following the event, speakers can go back through the data to see where there were emotional peaks. From there, speakers can update their content based on the points that made the most significant connection with the audience.

Pricing can vary depending on the type of technology used and the analytics being run. On average, costs fall in the $5,000-$10,000 range. Some companies offer pricing per attendee, and others have a flat fee. While this can be a large investment, if you weigh the cost of facial recognition against the costs associated with speaker fees, and the event budget in general, spending money to find the effectiveness of sessions makes a lot of sense for future planning.

What are your thought on using facial recognition technology for event planning and management? Have you tried it? Do you want to? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Small Event. Big Impact

As we begin to slide into the last quarter of the year and start planning for 2020, the human inclination is to go bigger and better next year. But, we would challenge you to look at how going smaller can actually lead to a greater impact. Smaller events can deliver the same learning as a large event, however do it in a way that enables event organizers to get closer to attendees as well as a different way for attendees to interact with the content and with each other.

For context, we would define a small event as somewhere around 20-50 people. With this size, attendees have an opportunity to get to know one another and the presenters on a deeper level. This is helpful when you're looking to build better customer intimacy or when you are looking to gather feedback. A small group allows for more interaction and questions, so organizers can take advantage of the opportunity and build in plenty of time for Q&A. Attendees can get the lecture experience at any event, so set your event apart with increased access to and interaction with speakers and thought leaders.

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Revisiting DC: A Look at New Event Venues

Location, location, location. It's a mantra for real estate, but it also has a place in the event planning world. While people attend events for the content, the location also holds sway in decision-making process.

Sometimes it's a matter of commute/travel time to get to the location. Other times it's proximity to public transport or ease of parking. Maybe it's simply that a venue is new and people welcome any excuse to check it out.

For event planners, changing locations can provide a fresh perspective on the event content and how it runs. This is especially valuable for long-running events with a built-in audience. Holding the event in a different location forces organizers to rethink how breakouts are organized and what other activities could be woven into the traditional agenda.

We did some digging and found several venues in the DC region that are worth looking at for events in 2020. Continue reading

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.