We’ve all seen the obvious hits that events are starting to take. Tom Hagy of HB Litigation Conferences wrote a thoughtful response on the Discussion Forum this morning why he “backed off the event business last year.”
“It’s too vulnerable. Vulnerable to everything from weather to calamity to greedy employees and partners who don’t hesitate to take the money and run,” he wrote. “I never intended it to be a standalone operation. It was always a great complement to what else I was doing…”
Of course, that doesn’t help our present situation. But the Discussion Forum is in other ways. There has been a solid strand on cancellation policies. Ed Coburn of Cabot Wealth Network posted a policy that his colleague Linda Vassaly found from Hubspot:
“First things first: the INBOUND team’s foremost goal is to keep you, our future attendees, safe. We’re optimistic that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) will be contained before INBOUND, but we wouldn’t be event organizers if we weren’t planning for every possibility. This is why we’ve extended our 100% refund date to June 1 to ensure you can buy with confidence. See our help page here, where we’ll be providing continuous updates as things develop.”
Lev Kaye of CredSpark wrote to encourage asking questions of your subscribers and members.
“What’s your personal level of concern about traveling to an event to be held in the month of _______? What are some of the key factors you’d use in deciding whether or not to attend/exhibit on the currently-scheduled date?”
“It takes confidence to ask such questions—there’s always the fear that it will be interpreted as reflecting indecision. But this is a time of complete uncertainty for nearly everyone, and your audience will understand that you’re trying to gather their input to inform your best thinking. And likely they’ll appreciate being asked.”
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new report, “Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready for Coronavirus.” The guidance is intended for organizers and staff responsible for planning mass gatherings or large events in the U.S. You can read it here.)
In this time of uncertainty, Hagy’s phrase, “great complement to what else I was doing,” stands out. On Tuesday, I wrote about two virtual events that have been far exceeding expectations—Education Week’s Online Summits (which we will hear more about at SIPA 2020) and Copyrightlaws.com’s Zoom On Ins. Even when live events return to form, virtual events can remain a strong complement.
Video streaming is picking up momentum. The Interactive Advertising Bureau is recommending that presenters for their late-April, yet un-cancelled NewFront event stream their presentations instead of hosting in-person gatherings.
“To be clear, based on feedback from longtime NewFronts participants, we at IAB strongly recommend streaming-only productions for all presenters,” the organization said. “However, we are committed to supporting the industry and believe that the new streaming option we’re outlining here allows for the most flexibility to serve your specific requirements.”
Podcast presenters are also reporting an uptick. CNN recently launched “Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction” a daily 10-minute show which hit 1 million downloads a week after launch. Digiday had this quote today in an article titled In the Age of Coronavirus, Publishers See a Podcast Mini Boom:
“Both publishers and consumers are going back to trusted long-form sources of information that can be refreshed very quickly,” said Peter Mitchell, group managing director at podcast consultancy 4DC. “News is the biggest genre-growth in podcasts, it’s not surprising that’s where there’s growth.”
They make the point that while advertisers might withdraw from being next to a depressing news topic, “they’re not currently doing that [with podcasts],” said Sam Shetabi, U.K. content director at Acast. In some cases it’s actually the contrary. “In fact, the growing health concerns have seen the number of health-related audio ads go up,” said Scott Simonelli, CEO of audio ad platform Veritonic.
But like the Zoom On Ins, podcast publishers are mostly using the intense scrutiny to build audience, not profits. The upselling comes later.
Much more to come. And SIPA will be with you all the way, right up to SIPA 2020 June 1-3, starting with next Thursday’s important Webinar: Coronavirus and Your Events: How to Make Decisions that Protect Your Business and the Safety of Your Staff. Register here. You will not want to miss this.