Producing Effective Virtual Events

By Stacey Clement

Topping the list of marketing terms in 2020 will no doubt be the word “virtual.” Think how many times you’ve heard, read or used the term in the past week alone. From the onslaught of weekly virtual meetings to special, one-time only virtual performances by musical and other artists, to how we break, with virtual cocktail hours, life as we know it has moved online.

But some do virtual a whole lot better than others – and there are, now, clear best practices to taking your marketing and communications virtual, whether it’s a high-level, 1:1 media briefing or you want to pack the virtual house for a consumer event. Here are a few examples to inspire:

Popular liquor brand Jägermeister hosted a virtual Sunday brunch on Instagram Live, charging an admission fee to participate that was in turn donated to charities that support the restaurant community. Fans helped relief efforts as they learned how to make delicious cocktails and got to win prizes – a win for fans, the brand and the benefitting non-profit partners.

The team at Spotify tapped into the isolation office workers were feeling by working remotely, creating The Sounds of Colleagues, an interactive site that playfully re-created familiar office sounds: the printer, coffee machine, typing on keyboards and even the office dog. Put it on in the background and somehow you feel as if your colleagues are right there with you – in a good way.

Our work for Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast subsidiary brought a successful annual SoCal event completely virtual last month. For D&D Live 2020, we reimagined our typical in-person press day on Zoom Webinar, giving nearly 40 media outlets an opportunity to see and hear about the newest storyline from the game designers just as if we were together. In addition to high-profile journalists and influencers, thousands of fans tuned-in on Twitch to watch celebrities play D&D throughout the weekend, helping to raise $315,000 for Red Nose Day’s mission to end childhood poverty.

D&D Live 2020

What’s Next?

With all major conferences on the horizon, including CES, cancelled, brands have an opportunity to not just “show up” at the virtual versions, but to host their own, more intimate online events. There are ample upsides, including a more focused, distraction-free platform with which to give media and fans a deeper-dive experience – and potentially wider reach, with journalists being able to attend your virtual event from the comfort of their home office and fans joining in more easily, too.

Virtual experiences are here to stay, not only as a replacement for in-person events but as a cost- and time-efficient way of doing business and taking brand experiences and stories directly to the audiences they serve – and want to serve.