Recently, Market Connections released their 2020 Federal Media and Marketing Study results, providing a look at how the pandemic has shaped the way the federal buyer consumes media. Findings from 2020 can support marketers in short term planning and serve as a basis for longer term thinking about what their marketing strategy should look like.
The biggest long-term change is the location of where people work. Prior to March 2020, only 5% of federal workers were teleworking full time. This number moved as high as 59%, and while it will drop in the future, 27% report they expect to telework full time in the future. Another 46% expect that partial telework will be a regular routine moving forward.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and that is in fact the case with virtual events. The ability to host virtual events has been available for quite some time, but the demand has not been there. With the sudden shutdown of the country due to COVID-19, event planners looked to postpone events but, as the crisis continued, they quickly embraced the online medium to keep some kind of connection to the public they needed to reach.
Virtual events are proving to be more than a stopgap as we work through the response to a public health crisis. It is generally accepted that habits form after 21 days and lifestyle changes cement themselves after 90. Being far beyond 90 days into online meetings and gatherings, we all now accept and even enjoy attending events and learning online. For event planners, virtual events have proven to be an amplifier of their content, often attracting more people than would have attended in person and providing a recorded version of sessions that can be used in other ways throughout the year.
The impact of the coronavirus will have a long-lasting effect on the events market. At GovEvents we saw 22% of events listed on the site canceled with no plans to reschedule in 2020 and another 26% of live, in-person events scheduled for March 16 or later moved to virtual. The Federal events market was quick to adapt to ensure learning and professional development has continued while we've all been quarantining, but as conditions allow how and when will the government community be ready to meet again?
Market Connections recently released findings of a survey to gauge how the federal workplace environments have been affected by COVID-19 and how federal employees are adapting. Among the findings, the report painted a picture of what the reception for in-person events will be in the coming year and a half. The results were presented in a webinar along with results from a similar study of the contractor market conducted by the Professional Services Council (PSC).
Webinars and online events have been the only source of learning for the Federal market since mid-March. While 80% of respondents reported attending in-person events prior to March 2020, that number fell to near zero for March onward. 63% of respondents are using webinars more than they have in the past. Despite the novelty of video wearing off, usage is staying steady as the pandemic wears on. Continue reading
We've written quite a bit about virtual events and webinars. With our new COVID reality, we thought it was an important topic to revisit.
While virtual and online events may be the only option in the short term, event organizers can benefit from a virtual mindset when they approach all events going forward. Integrating a plan to host your event virtually if circumstances demand it should be a mandatory part of the overall planning process. Organizers should have the technology in place so they can easily "turn it on" when needed. Even if the event does go off as planned, live and in-person, consider adding online aspects to increase engagement. The option to create streaming video should become an essential event utility like electricity or WiFi.
While social distancing may have accelerated the acceptance of online events, webinars, in particular, are not a new concept in the federal market. Market Connections' Federal Media & Marketing Study (FMMS) found that three-quarters of federal workers reported watching live webinars during the workday and at least one in five were watching recorded webinars on their own time (weeknights and weekends). Webinars tend to be mainly one-way communication - with a speaker presenting and time for questions at the end. Frequently, the Q&A is not done "live," rather questions are gathered via messaging, vetted, and asked by the host. However, as our collective comfort with platforms like Zoom, WebEx, and Skype grow, future webinars could become more interactive, allowing for video participation and interaction between speakers and participants.
On April 8, GovEvents' Director of Client Relations, Stephanie Gravel, was invited to speak on Government Marketing University's (GMarkU) daily IDEATION virtual call.
Stephanie discussed the current government events climate and the latest event marketing trends during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:
- Data on cancellations, rescheduled events and the transition to virtual and online
- Competing in the growing virtual events market
- Best practices for rescheduling events and digital event promotion
- And more!
Couldn't make the meeting? No problem! You can listen to the recording and follow along with these slides.
You can also sign up to join the daily IDEATION calls for insightful discussion, innovative ideas, and practical strategies to support your government marketing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond