Feeding the Virtual Event Habit

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.

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Virtual Events Time to Shine – Are They Here to Stay?

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.

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GovEvents’ Stephanie Gravel Talks Event Marketing Trends During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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

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.

The Real Scoop on Virtual Events

With fall upon us and colder weather coming, our "hibernation" instinct kicks in and people start to stay in more. But even if you are ensconced in layers of blankets with a pumpkin latte in hand, you can still grow your professional knowledge base. Virtual events have been growing in popularity among event planners and attendees alike. In the government market specifically, over 60% of federal employees surveyed reported attending one or more webinars in the past year. 46% of government marketers surveyed are planning on investing in webinars in the coming year.

The allure of virtual events is cost and time savings. With no physical venue to rent and no need to travel, both planners and attendees save money as well as time. These virtual meetings run the spectrum from basic webinar-type presentations of power point slides, to interactive video demos, to fully immersive virtual worlds with online tradeshow booths that include the ability to chat with exhibitors. But no matter the format, all virtual events share a key challenge - how to engage and keep the attention of attendees who are in an environment full of distractions. Meeting this challenge requires commitments on the part of attendees and event planners. Continue reading