Today, as we respond to the challenges of the pandemic, associations are laying the foundation for what will be the next chapter in their communication playbook: hybrid events. For months, we have had to confront the hurdle of delivering content in an environment without live meetings or face-to-face networking.
Most associations we have spoken to, are adapting to the realities of this new normal by maximizing their on-line content and turning to virtual solutions for their events. Several have shifted away from members-only access to their websites and opened their social platforms to any industry professional. At the same time, unable to network at live events, professionals are turning more and more to social media and gathering in on-line industry groups to discuss business challenges, gain advice, and discover the latest trends. Optimized search and collaboration tools allow these nascent groups to function as mini think tanks for problem solving and innovation. Virtual communities have formed, sustaining relationships and providing real professional value.
Some trade associations are reaching out to ad hoc digital communities to bring them into the fold. The market’s current reliance on digital offers an opportunity to increase attendance and participation in advance of the shift back toward live meetings. We don’t see this as a strategy focused primarily on millennials but rather as an initiative to re-energize your brand and drive robust engagement both within your membership and across the industry.
Looking forward, we see live events resuming gradually as safety and health concerns are reduced. As this happens, live production tactics and best virtual practices will be combined for smaller live audiences while simultaneously deliveringcontent and engagement to on-line participants now more accustomed to virtual connection.
Hybrid events will offer traditional options for sponsorship wrapped around experiences designed to impact a live audience. Concurrently, purpose-built digital programming will be delivered on-line to an expanded audience. While this shift to design production for dual audiences may require additional investment in the short term, we see it eventually increasing registration for both live and on-line attendance, as well as offering your association diverse opportunities for multi-channel sponsorship.