This piece originally appeared on PR News and is republished here with permission.
You’ve distributed messaging to staff regarding COVID-19. Sent emails to customers apologizing for canceling events and thanked those who RSVP-ed yes for their support. In addition, you've assured them the show will go on, just at a different date and possibly in the form of a virtual event.
But how will you make your virtual event stand out, especially when there’s likely to be an unprecedented amount of them?
Break Up Large Events into Parts
Use webinar platforms to your advantage. For instance, imagine you planned to host a large, invite-only event. Instead, think about hosting it virtually, but do so in two parts.
Arranging the event in two parts will alleviate the need for customers and prospects to sit for long periods at their computers. In addition, having a break between sessions gives people a chance to interact virtually. It also lets you answer questions in a more leisurely setting.
As you know, many, if not most, cities have closed bars and restaurants. They are, however, offering delivery or to-go services.
If you were to host a lunch-n-learn in person, you would provide lunch for attendees. It should not be different in a virtual lunch-n-learn. Consider sending attendees a gift card for lunch delivery.
Many companies such as UberEats and Favor are offering free delivery at the moment. People will appreciate the gesture and opportunity to connect face to face over the computer while enjoying good food and conversation.
A caveat: don’t offer this incentive as a marketing ploy. For example, do not tell invitees that the only way to get a $20 delivery gift card is if they take a demo. The last thing you want to do is appear opportunistic during a global crisis. Now is the time to show acts of generosity, while creating normalcy and connecting with your audience.
Show Your Face
As a result of coronavirus, many of us will never take for granted the ability to engage with our colleagues daily.
Instead of sending a promotional post with a photo of the person hosting the event, have them record a video inviting people to attend the virtual event. The video can be used across multiple social media platforms and even in e-mail.
Recording a video offers a more personal touch. It also shows audience members that you’re excited to engage with them, even if it is virtual.
Do the same for people in your virtual chat room. Enabling the video feature on your webinar platform will give people the chance to see other attendees who are participating. Zoom has a function that allows a participant to digitally raise their hand to have a question answered. Allow that person to introduce themselves over video and ask their question in real time.
People's schedules are especially unpredictable now. This is particularly true for parents, who are home working and trying to mind their children. If people can’t attend a virtual event, assure them ahead of time that a recording will be sent afterward.
A tip: offer a contact who can answer questions from those who missed the event and those who attended it.