At Democracy we are no stranger to the task of planning events that put our clients on the map.
From the big and bold global reveal of the Dulux Colour of the Year, to the dark and mysterious launch of a prohibition-era Manchester bar, we are seasoned pros at taking a brief and transforming it into a show-stopping event that ticks all the boxes, and is guaranteed to knock our clients’ socks off.
But what happens when the world suddenly changes, and physical events just aren’t possible?
Well, we pause.
We take a moment to consider this ‘new normal’ that we’ve been thrust into, and what that means for each and every one of our clients. And then we get our thinking caps on.
Events have always been a key part of our client offering and something that we absolutely love to get our teeth into, so we’re well accustomed to the process that usually follows the brief.
We start by drilling down to get to the roots of exactly what the event needs to achieve – whether that is to garner wide-reaching, long lasting awareness for a new product, or to communicate key messages to a select few stakeholders in an impactful way.
From there it’s a whirlwind of brainstorms and strategy sessions, all coming together to form a succinct plan that encapsulates all aspects of the event. Once that is in place, the time has come for venue recces, identifying the perfect suppliers and planning all of the tiny details that come together on the day to deliver an event that will truly resonate.
So what happens when none of this is possible?
Well if we travel back to February 2020, that is exactly the situation that so many agencies were faced with, ourselves included.
At Democracy, we were in the midst of planning events for a number of different projects, when it swiftly became clear that the activity we were gearing up for could not proceed as planned.
As we saw Covid-19 begin to slowly take over the media agenda, and then rapidly alter more and more aspects of our daily lives, it was evident that we would not be proceeding with any kind of physical event this side of Christmas. So we went back to the drawing board and began to consider what these events could look like if they were going to take place in a virtual setting.
Whilst many events across the globe have been postponed or ultimately cancelled, a significant number have been forging ahead as digital versions of an event that in normal circumstances would have seen hundreds of people gathered in one space.
Capturing the magic
There is a great challenge in capturing the sense of collective awe that naturally comes from being physically present at an exclusive event. The anticipation that builds in a room filled with people as the time ticks closer and closer to a big reveal is tricky to translate into a digital setting, with the tendency for a straightforward presentation to fall flat compared to the excitement and anticipation of being in a space, surrounded by people.
With events such as these, it is so important to consider how you can add layers to the audience experience. If you were hosting a traditional launch event, your attendees would likely receive an attractive selection of items to take home with them, that enhance the story and keep the moment going long after they have left the venue. So why not ensure that same feeling of continued involvement in the story by curating a ‘takeaway’ bag that is delivered to your virtual attendees to coincide with the virtual event itself.
More so than with a physical event, in a virtual event there can be a tendency for people to have less of a firm grasp of event dates and times in their minds, so make sure to keep up a steady stream of engagement in the lead-up. This serves the purpose of reminding attendees of the key details (especially important when it comes to the logistics of joining a virtual event) but also serves to build a sense of anticipation as the day of the event gets closer.
Providing virtual reassurance
Not only has this been a time for pivoting activity to shift in-person events into a virtual space, but over the past few months we have also been working with clients to create plans for singular or even series of digital events aiming to reassure their key stakeholders, and instill confidence that they are ready to help them through this tricky time.
We worked closely with the team at Dulux Decorator Centre to plan a series of webinars with the aim to provide Dulux Decorator Centre 360 customers with added value through high-level market insight, supporting them in rebuilding their businesses and identifying new opportunities as they arise.
Much the way that you would perform a recce of potential venues for a physical event, we took the time to identify the most suitable platform to host the webinars, ensuring that it would deliver on everything that we needed it to. We supported Dulux Decorator Centre in selecting and briefing the speakers, leading figures from the construction and commercial decorating sectors, keen to share their insight on the changing industry.
With a mixture of live and pre-recorded webinars throughout the series and the capacity for attendees to go back and revisit the content on a dedicated hub page for Dulux Decorator Centre, we made sure that stakeholders were reassured by their vocalised support in what is proving an extremely tough time for many in the trade.
The next event on the radar for Democracy is the biggest event in the colour calendar. Yes, that’s right – when September rolls around the Dulux Colour of the Year launch will be going virtual.
Normally taking place in front of a raft of top tier media and influencers at a high profile venue in the centre of London, this year the exclusive global reveal will be taking a different shape. The magic and mystery of the launch will be encapsulated in a way like never before, so watch this space…
It’s not so different after all
When it comes to planning a virtual event, the process can actually end up being surprisingly similar to that of the physical variety. You start by drilling down into your key objectives for the event, then you search for the wow factor that will communicate that to your audience in an impactful way.
However, the key points that are most important to remember when tackling a virtual event are:
– Make sure you pick the right medium for what you are setting out to achieve
– Find the key point of difference that will make your virtual event memorable
– Always ensure that you can rely on whatever technology you do choose, and that you’ve done plenty of dry runs
So while for the foreseeable future, events are going to be taking on a very different form to what we’re used to, ultimately they are still an excellent way to carve out a position for your clients in the minds of their key audience.