Event Professionals, What do you do if the lights go out?
At a venue based event, ‘housekeeping’ opening announcements tend to include ‘there is no planned testing of the fire alarm system today’, the location of the toilets, timings of the key elements of the day, invariably the prescribed hashtags and perhaps the wifi code.
TOP TIP: hashtags, Twitter handles and wifi code should be on ‘table talkers’ on each table, printed to appear at the top of each page of the event schedule/programme or on an easy to hand out info flyer.
With an extended digital audience in the equation, there’s one major ever present catastrophe on the ‘event horizon’, ‘What to do if the internet goes down’! — What if the lights go out!
For the extended audience, it goes without saying that we have ‘no planned outage of the Internet provision at the venue today’ but the ‘in the case of emergency’ does need to be addressed especially if the attendees are paying.
So you have to ask your event’s team ‘What will we do if the internet goes down?’. The same goes for other occasional inevitabilities with 3rd party providers beyond our control.
‘Extend The Audience’ incorporates several 3rd party platforms which have been ‘tried and tested’ over time. Every ETA wrapper is established through consultation and from an analysis of the client’s existing audience’s capacity to engage digitally.
Technology is not perfect.
One option is to offer a money back promise which is risky in itself as the attendee ticket money goes towards providing the service in the first place. My preferred option is to secondary-record locally and provide exclusive provisioned access to the missed sessions following the outage within a specific timeframe after the conclusion of the event.
‘Extend The Audience’ programmes ideally include a follow-up webcast scheduled 7–10 days after the event in any case but this all needs conveying to the attendees prior to purchasing a ticket or in the event information communicated with the digital attendees before the event takes place.
Extend The Audience is about the attendee experience after all. Establishing consumer confidence at the point of purchase is a must. An additional contingency for the extremely risk averse or for high value digital ticketed events, is to consider a secondary presenters studio off-site with an independent Internet connection but this all inflates the budget.
Contingency planning is vital. The best event professionals are always living with the thoughts of ‘worse case scenario’ and preventing at all cost turning those thoughts into memories.
It was following a conversation with legal contracts adviser Heather Stanford over Skype from Stamford-Gould Business Management that I’m beginning to build the contractual foundation for turning my audience adventure, informed and inspired by the work I’ve done with Audiences Europe into a deliverable offering for Event Organisers to commission as a wrapper to their future venue-based events.
So… Be Local — Go Global
Social Media for an event can include scheduled Facebook Live, Periscope or Instagram ‘streamed by the audience’ curated output but ‘Extending’ is about increasing capacity to share the value the venue based event experience provides. It’s not opening the window it’s adding rooms.
From my experience and analysis working with audience professionals in the arts and culture sectors ‘being there’ is the preferred optimal value proposition but in the age the digital with ‘produced preparation’ that no longer has to be the case especially for conference type events.
In extreme scenarios expressed by certain demographics I have worked with developing the digital audience experience concept, large conference venues, the travel the accommodation the crowds are an idea of hell on earth.
Several proofs of concept ‘Extend The Audience’ wrapped events have taken place. Arts & Audience in Reykjavik Iceland in 2014 (which at its peak had a reach of over 2 million), at the British Arts Festival Association’s annual conference in 2015 & 2016 and most recently for Stuart Ross’s High Growth Summit in October 2016.
‘Extend The Audience’ is founded on the following.
- Never being abruptly presented with a ‘Back after the break’ holding screen
- Being able to communicate and network with fellow digital attendees
- Being able to communicate and network with venue attendees
- Access to a concierge helpdesk and communications channel with the digital audiences host.
Studio based Q&A speaker and panel discussions for digital attendees.
The ultimate mark of a successful ‘Extend The Audience’ wrapped event is providing an audience acclaimed comparable experience to attending the venue based experience. Attending an ‘Extend The Audience’ programmed parallel alternative being one of preference because of time, the geography or preferable accessibility.
What about laser precision audience extensions? I also conceive that ETA could wrap specific speaker sessions or commissioned by a specific speaker to extend to their own audience.
Satellite events are also in my thinking enabling sponsors or venue attendees to relay the conference back to a Board Room or Meeting Room set aside for employees with CPD objectives while continuing a semblance of ‘business as usual’ for customers and clients. Timely coordinated networking events at the satellite location are a possibility too with live streamed content being scheduled into the host’s satellite’s event. Extend The Audience associate hosts can be booked to ‘anchor’ satellite events with a talk-back channel going back to the venue-based event.
‘Extend The Audience’ wrapped events are about extending engagement as well as an event’s audience capacity.
At last year’s High Growth Summit a digital attendee met with a venue attendee at the video networking desk accompanied by Summit speaker Floyd Woodrow (see pic) where a future meeting was planned and a great conversation took place.
Even with the limited technical provision at this proof of concept delivery, it manifested this unplanned but engaged dialogue demonstrating how ‘Extend The Audience’ wrapped events can bridge the digital divide.
A further valuable demonstration came from the British Arts Festival Conference in 2016 where a breakout session I delivered about digitally extending audience reach, which ran an open webcast, was attended remotely by Audience Agent’s Howard Buckley who I subsequently met at a conference several months later and picked up the concept of extending audience in a chance encounter conversation.
Thank you for reading, What do you think?
It’s now time for me to monetise which I am extremely excited about. I’d like to talk to anyone interested in wrapping and extended audience into their next event or supporting my monetisation journey.