The pivot to live-streamed events is delivering for businesses

By Tim Fallis, President, Black Rock Marketing Group

The need to pivot has proved essential in 2020, especially in the events industry. From big music concerts through to large-scale consumer product launches from brands such as Apple, live-streaming has become the norm.

In the business-to-business environment, which is so heavily populated by sales and customer meetings, conferences and events, this shift to streaming is even more pronounced. It can be seen in the same vein as the pivot to working from home that many people have experienced, in the sense that it’s something companies and their teams have previously been reluctant to embrace but now that they’ve tried it, out the majority like it.

That’s mainly because the pivot to live-streamed key events makes great sense. It can be more effective, less stressful and deliver a lower cost solution than traditional live executions.

Where previously we’d be flying in hundreds of people for a company’s national sales meeting, and building up all the associated costs in travel, hiring a venue and AV equipment, we can now create events that are safely broadcast from a state-of-the-art studio with custom digital backdrops (usually a simple but effective wall of digital panels).

Multi-camera set-ups deliver high production value with integrated presentations and video, and delegate engagement is promoted through on-line question and answer sessions and live chat features. There’s also great flexibility here for delegates, who don’t have to spend time travelling and can download the entire presentation at the conclusion of the stream and then cut and paste elements for their own customer interactions. A further benefit is that invitees missing the show in its entirety can download and review the action at a later stage.

Personally, I’ve been impressed with the technology and how professional it can be. Perhaps the only downside, what can easily be missed here, is the emotional benefit of the camaraderie and the engagement among the sales people who haven’t seen each other since the last get together. There has to be a strategy to make sure that’s not lost using the live stream, and there’s a way to go on that but technology does allow us to break big stream sections up and go into another, more intimate, lane for smaller teams.

There are clear steps to ensure the success of live-stream events, including custom invitations and links, and providing recordings for future use. But the biggest focus here is to make it professional in terms of production. This can’t be a Go Pro in your office with terrible lighting, and lousy audio. It’s important that your stream doesn’t look like a Mickey Mouse effort, and you can achieve this by using a studio with custom branded backgrounds, ensuring the cues are right on, and investing in experienced hosts.

Yes, there’s a cost to that. But then look at the benefits in terms of engagement levels, motivating teams, and in the ability to stage more frequent and efficient events. When seen in this light, the pivot to live-streaming really is one of the few positive outcomes of the COVID-19 situation.

Black Rock Marketing Group is a member of the Institute of Communication Agencies. Report on Marketing is where leading Canadian agencies showcase their insights, cutting-edge research and client successes. The Report on Marketing provides a valuable source of thought leadership for Canadian marketers to draw inspiration from. Find more articles like this at the Report on Marketing.

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