I recently sat down with Rich Belcher, Director, First Sight Media to talk about how they are helping #eventprofs keep their events intact amid the Corona Virus.
Has FSM experienced any impacts from COVID-19?
As service providers to the events industry, we have felt the impact first-hand, with many of the events and meetings we were part of sadly being cancelled or postponed. We, like our colleagues and friends throughout the industry are currently trying to mitigate risk to both the business and our team.
On a positive note, however, we have also seen a steep rise in queries looking for alternative solutions to face-to-face, offline events – particularly conferences which lend themselves perfectly to our live streaming and video-conferencing solutions.
What services can you provide for companies who may need to change their event layout because of the current situation?
First Sight Media is a Video Production and Live Streaming specialist. We deliver a complete technical solution that captures your event to allow you to engage and expand your audience through the power of video marketing and live streaming.
With face-to-face meetings becoming less of an option, we’re seeing organisers convert conferences and seminars into webinars, hybrid events or simply taking the entire event online. Companies are wanting to make sure their event can carry on virtually and we’ve seen a definite increase in organisers looking to either incorporate or replace events with a virtual element.
We’re suggesting tried and tested solutions (such as Zoom or YouTube) to facilitate all this and ensure their audiences receive the same interactivity and experience of the content they would have had if in the same room.
Communication is the key and it’s a case of finding new ways to deliver the message of the original event to your audience in a new format as a result of the challenges that COVID-19 has introduced.
There are many ways to maximise your event by taking it online. As the advice is changing daily, there are virtual options from allowing small groups to communicate to individuals through to events operating and managed completely remotely and without the need for any travel. In order to keep people safe, events can still happen virtually and as these changes have become a necessity in recent weeks, we’re seeing the most interest in three of our key solutions, all of which can be personalised and scaled up or down:
Webinars: we produce webinars throughout the year and this format is perfect for transferring conferences and lectures to an online format with up to five or so speakers. Here all speakers would gather in a room (typically a hotel or the client’s offices) and we’d capture them delivering their content to stream across the web – typically through a website portal with registration and login. Coupled with the ability to ask questions and participate with polls, this gives audiences an interactive way to enjoy the content.
Hybrid Events: much like webinars, this solution would feature an offline element (in the form of speakers to the camera in a room) but the hybrid element comes in when one or more of the speakers are not able to be in the same room. This is perfect where an international speaker joins the webinar from their office/home but seamlessly communicates with those in the room and can still be involved in Q&A and discuss in real-time with the other speakers.
Virtual Events: our services for this draw upon a combination of technologies to create real-time communication with ‘e-speakers’ coupled with our robust streaming solution to deliver the content across the web. This can be achieved without anyone travelling anywhere but achieving the same seamless results.
In 2020, live streaming was already expected to account for 82% of all internet traffic – I expect this number will soar considering the current situation.
How can organisers benefit from First Sight Media’s solutions?
We’ve mentioned communication but it’s also about content. In the coming weeks, more people will be at home, in front of computers and a more captive audience than ever. Capturing and creating content is going to be increasingly used as a way of engaging your audience and keeping your community connected. So, if you had an event scheduled where the content was going to be created, it certainly makes sense to still make use of what’s already produced by capturing it for on-demand or converting your offline session. Do organisers need to make any major alterations to their event to utilise your services?
I think we can all agree that the daily/hourly changes to our industry that are being caused by COVID-19 mean alterations are inevitable. With the government encouraging ‘social isolation’ and venues beginning to close their doors, the prospect of offline events is becoming increasingly difficult. Whether you are looking to move online, cancel or postpone your event, communicating changes and updates to your delegates is vital.
This is one of the most important things to remember if you’re considering moving online. There is often the misconception that simply moving online will bring users and e-delegates – this is not the case, but with some planning, the reach and participation can be powerful.
Our recommendation is a three-step approach.
Define: Establish the format of your online event quickly – will it be open to everyone or will you have Pay-Per-View elements? We’ve defined a few solutions above (question 3) but ensure you’re providing your audience with something new, interesting and exciting so they have a good reason to tune in.
Communicate: Be sure to articulate what makes your online event unique to your audience and how they will attend online. Give them a simple URL and include clear instructions on how to access and what to expect.
Promote: Share access links, remind those interested nearer the time and re-iterate what the benefits for joining will be. Consider your audience and what their preferred mode of receiving information is. Based on what we’re seeing with current streams, you might be pleasantly surprised on engagement levels.
What information do you need from organisers?
The key to working with First Sight Media is that we handle all the technical elements and help you ascertain the best platform and solution to deliver to your chosen audience.
Our aim is to help you transfer from offline to online as seamlessly as possible or help you plan your virtual event from scratch. We will work alongside you to define the format and gather the information we need to deliver. This typically includes:
- Format and schedule of the original event – this then allows us to advise on options
- New dates for virtual events (if different)
- Number of presenters and number of locations
- Format of content to be delivered, e.g. Slide decks, internet video links, presentations
- Level of interactivity required – e.g. Q&A, live polling
- Key contact
We are continuously talking to customers, partners, venues and providers to find the best solutions possible – we encourage questions and suggestions from everyone across the industry, let’s keep talking, sharing and helping each other out to make sure we stay connected.