Please Pardon the Disruption: Breaking Down the Buzzword
If you’re hosting a corporate event – finding space, inviting speakers, enticing attendees, budgeting for it all – leaving a content plan out of the equation is a massive missed opportunity. Why go through the trouble without maximizing audience engagement both during the big day and afterwards? Even attending someone else’s corporate event without a content plan ignores a shining opportunity to connect to your audience. Andrew Grzywacz, Senior Content Manager and event content strategy pro, shared tips for creating interesting and informative content that spans beyond the single event day.
What types of content make the most sense for a corporate event?
I know it’s cheating to say “it depends”…but, it depends.
Live social for promoting the event as it’s happening is a must, particularly if it’s your own event (or a third-party event that you’re sponsoring). What’s the point of going to or hosting the show if you’re not actively associating yourself with it as it’s happening?
Video is also essential. Companies (both attending and hosting) don’t always have a video team capturing footage of the stage or the floor, which is a huge waste of the potential value you could get from being there: video interviews with customers, partners, other stakeholders, employees, footage of speakers (especially high-profile ones), etc.
Finally, written content that can be turned out either the day of or shortly after, to provide recaps of what’s happening/what happened, the central theme tying together the day’s sessions and speakers, all while driving relevant connection back to your business. For your own events, post-event newsletters that briefly sum up highlights and thank others for coming are a must for following up on and reinforcing relationships.
How do you take event content beyond advertising for attendance, to truly informative and interesting?
It comes down to drilling into the underlying themes or messages behind the event. The first time I went to a client event, one of my jobs was to write daily blog posts recapping sessions and speakers. That first day, I wrote a 1,000-word play-by-play, basically of my entire itinerary that day. In addition to being a pain to write (physically I mean, my wrists were so sore by the end) it also just wasn’t that interesting. Who really cares to read the details of every session and every speaker and every award given out?
So I adjusted my approach for the next couple days, focusing less on recapping every single thing that happened, and more on digging into the central themes of the day, highlighting how those themes and trends and pain points that others in the industry were feeling carried over and were addressed in between different sessions, workshops, and so on.
When you find that Big Idea that undergirds the whole thing, you capture the part that is actually interesting and engaging, more than a “Here’s everything that happened today” kind of post.
During and after the event, how do you cater to two different audiences – those who were there and those who weren’t?
I’m not sure you necessarily need to do anything radically different to address both. They’ll have different reasons for engaging with event content – either to revisit something they remembered liking or to check out what all the buzz was about in the first place. But the underlying goal of all content still remains the same: capturing the messages, themes and general spirit of the event, and broadcasting it to a wider audience outside the halls of the venue. If done well, that should speak to both audiences.
What is social media’s role in event content?
Everything. The role of social for events is 100% essential – from promoting the speakers, sessions, announcements, and exciting things happening that day, to reminding attendees where to register and what to check out, to recapping the highlights of the event after the fact. Not to mention promoting any and all written content, videos or podcasts you produce out of the event. The only time you could probably get away with not having any kind of social strategy or social media component in place is if the event you’re going to is: a) small, b) private, c) not yours. But, 9.9 times out of 10, though, a lack of social integrated into your event content strategies is an enormous blind spot and a wasted opportunity.
What is a client event you supported recently?
I was pretty proud of our work supporting a client last year at the Global Peter Drucker Forum in Vienna. The scope of the work itself was pretty straightforward: live tweeting the event in real time, taking photos and feeding them into the posts while drafting and posting copy, and then later leveraging all the material we captured at the event into new content. The event coverage not only boosted social engagement at the time, but also lifted the CEO’s LinkedIn continuous engagements from single to triple digits and provided the opportunity to invite the forum’s speakers onto the client’s podcast. Altogether it wasn’t just a great example the content we can create, but also how we can successfully capitalize on events to create content that drives concrete, successful results – results that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
As an agency, March also has a long history of maximizing event ROI through content. One of our best examples was for Comptel, a client which has since been acquired by Nokia. Comptel hosted three annual events called “Nexterday North” in Helsinki, Finland. Content was the engine that drove this event – we wrote about the themes expressed at each show before and after the show, and all of those ideas culminated in an annual 150-page book, which incorporated contributions from Nexterday North speakers, attendees, and Comptel thought leaders. The books formed the foundation of Comptel’s annual marketing calendar, eventually spawned an online publication and played a big role in shaping the company’s perception in its market. It was an award-winning project that demonstrated how effective content can be in making the most out of corporate events.
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