‘An Acceleration of Innovation’; Virtual Events Can Provide a Place to Grow

This morning I happened on a release posted by Craft Brewing Business titled, Here’s a How-to Guide on Virtually Attending PACK EXPO Connects Next Week. Although I do like craft beer, I found it because PACK EXPO is produced by PMMI Media Group, a member of our sister Connectiv division.


This guide is actually an excellent idea for anyone producing virtual events. “The PACK EXPO Connects site, search and planning tools are all designed to help registrants easily identify opportunities that are relevant for their company,” says Sue DaMario, director of marketing, PMMI Media Group. “Planning ahead will ensure a rewarding online experience.”


The recommendations for attendees include:


1. Build a MyConnects Planner: “Once registered, attendees can search a multitude of ways including keyword, product category, new products and more in order to start building their MyConnects Planner.”


2. Add sessions and live demos to your personal calendar. “Check out the incredible line-up of Innovation Stage sessions. Be sure to add those of interest to you to your MyConnects Planner…”


3. Plan ahead for live chats: “Attendees can add companies they want to chat with, then during the chat hours can immediately strike up a conversation. To connect outside of show hours, attendees can click the envelope icon under the exhibitor’s contact information to send a message.


“Research shows that engaging with product engineers and technical folks is a top priority among equipment and material buyers. We’re excited about the ability for registered attendees to make direct, live connections with technical experts who are staffing showrooms. It couldn’t be easier,” said Dave Newcorn, senior VP of digital and data at PMMI Media Group.


This is all so sensible for a few reasons. First, the event being just a few days away, it reminds people to attend—especially when registration is free. PMMI Media also gets customers such as Craft Brewing Business to send this to their audience. It’s helping both the customer and the attendees. And as we know, nothing’s better than a third party actively supporting something you are doing.


I was fortunate a couple weeks ago to do an email Q&A with Joe Angel, president of PMMI Media Group. He could not have been any nicer and praised DaMario, Newcorn and the entire staff for the great job their doing in these challenging times. He emphasized the responsibility they have—“Almost all the manufacturing markets we serve are deemed essential”—and that, above all, they were actively listening to their audience.


“Our editors conducted multiple surveys to gain insight into what was happening in packaging and processing plants across the country. We were uniquely positioned to be able to share industry-specific intelligence with essential businesses,” he wrote.


That kind of inside information then became the basis for their pivot to PACK EXPO Connects—and to innovation.


“The new virtual show caused an acceleration of innovation for our media products,” Angel wrote. “And, while I can’t speak specifically to revenue, we have generally experienced an increase in media sales over the same period last year… Many of the features available at our virtual event were developed exclusively for us by Map Your Show, the platform on which PACK EXPO Connects is built. We also modified some of our traditional media offerings to support suppliers navigating a new way of doing business. And we developed new products, like our Virtual Event Guide, which is polybagged with our October issue of Packaging World… What we have learned will position us for future hybrid models and potential new virtual events.”


All of this doesn’t come out of thin air. The biggest criticisms of virtual events have been with difficulties for sponsors and vendors to connect with attendees. PMMI approached this event with sponsors and exhibitors in mind. On the PACK EXPO Connects site, there’s an Exhibitor Blog with articles such as: How to Continue Generating Leads After the Event; How Your Virtual Showroom Can Stand Out; and Seven Steps to a Successful Show Without Live Demos.


As for that future, Angel is “cautiously optimistic about 2021 but [is] budgeting conservatively. With no vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19, it is hard to say where we’ll be. PMMI Media Group has a tremendous portfolio, and PMMI is known for its very successful trade shows.”

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