Live Interviews Can Draw a Big Audience and Be a Membership Perk

We’ve talked here before about initiatives that can be more effective during this unique time. Reaching a bigger—and if it applies, more global—audience through live interviews certainly ranks near the top. “With the dramatic drop in live conferences and events, it comes as no surprise that 72% of publishers have increased their virtual events and webinar offerings,” Brand United reports.
I spoke with Donna Jefferson yesterday of long-time SIPA member Chesapeake Family, and their 2 pm Friday live interviews continue to thrive—often taking on serious topics. She posts them on Facebook and their YouTube channel; here’s the description for Friday’s talk: “Join the discussion with coaches Stephy Samaras and John Downs III as we talk about the impact of COVID-19 on student athletes and what can be done to turn it into a positive experience.”
“I really like to do those virtual interviews as long as we can give 2-3 days notice,” Jefferson said, adding it’s a good platform to talk about timely topics. Previous interviews focused on Virtual School From Home Tips and Navy Football Takes on Racism with an assistant coach and running back. (That interview received more than 700 views. I will report more on this great series titled Third Floor Views another day.) “By doing virtual interviews, we get things out there quickly.”
I love that Chesapeake Family’s Facebook promotion begins with “Join the discussion.” Remember the first advice yesterday that Christine Weiser of Future’s Tech & Learning gave: “Always have some opportunity for interaction with your audience. So if it’s a passive event that may not be outwardly compelling, we always add some live element. If it’s a pre-recorded keynote, we’ll end with a live Q&A. Also, if you can see the chat, that’s fun, it gets the audience interested and engaged through the Q&A.”
Publishers are also using these talks to build their membership programs (which Jefferson will also soon be initiating). TechCrunch has introduced Extra Crunch Live, a virtual speaker series with live Q&A exclusive for Extra Crunch members. Tomorrow they will feature Anu Duggal, founding partner at Female Founders Fund. “Hear from Duggal on how her thesis has changed, the competitive advantage of diversification, and what she defines as fast-growing and female-led.”
Inc. launched a weekly interview called “Real Talk.” “It’s people who have had success and are willing to give back to entrepreneurs and the small business community and answer questions for an hour,” said Scott Omelianuk, editor-in-chief and host.
A recent Real Talk featured one of my favorite speakers and was titled Daniel Pink: How to Not Be Overwhelmed Right Now. Along with the hour-long interview, they offer a short summation: “Start with small wins. Not long ago, popular business thought encouraged leaders to aim ‘for the moon’ to motivate themselves to stay on track in pursuit of goals, says Pink. But research has shown the opposite is true, he says. People are best inspired at work by making meaningful, day-to-day progress.”
They are also inspired by timely, live dialogues. According to WNIP, FT (Financial Times) Live drew 5,500 attendees to its four-day FT Digital Dialogues event in April. And FT Global Boardroom, a fully live, global digital event, had 100 remote speakers and 52,000 delegates.
“We now have unlimited inventory and seats in our virtual conference rooms,” FT Live’s MD Orson Francescone, told The Drum. “We can sell infinite tickets to a global audience. That is pretty powerful. Revolutionary, even.”

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