Pour a cup of coffee, go for a run, make some breakfast, and let the show begin. It all happens seamlessly. What used to make an event an event was the going out, the human interaction, the energy you get from a room of people all engaged in a cause or for a candidate.
Now? It’s the intimacy of being in your own space, talking to people in theirs. Meeting each other where they are to share an experience together.
Whether you’re the host, producer, or a supporter, we’ve all adapted to a new virtual world. Doing so over the last year of this pandemic was a necessity, but our sector of the campaign industry has survived because we’ve made the best of it by turning the constraints into positives and innovating within our new reality. Now, the world is opening back up, so do we close our laptops and go back to pre-COVID attendance and participation?
Like many aspects of campaigning impacted by the pandemic, events are another area that will sustain much of its new normal. In other words, virtual events aren’t going anywhere — at least not right away.
They’ve proven too valuable, showing us all that engagement can come with convenience. The success of this next phase as we reopen will depend on how to combine all we’ve learned and continue to experiment with new, hybrid formats. Event producers like us will be shaping live audience experiences that combine with meeting people where they are to create even more impactful moments.
This time of re-imagining production, registration, attendee experience, and even security has forced us to be more creative, sharper, and overall greater event producers. We’ve had to collaborate from start to finish, and we’re coming out of this era better for it.
What we’ve lost in traditional methods has been gained in the ease and access people have, by joining remote mediums, not constrained by things like conflicting schedules and other logistics, so two people you may never have gotten together in person can now convene on a platform everyone has a newfound comfort with.
So now our charge is to apply all this to a transition back to in-person. We can capitalize on that energy to create even better live and hybrid events than before the coronavirus era. For starters, virtual event visual and audio production has reached new heights.
Graphics are more dynamic, transitions are smoother, and audiences experience pre-recorded content as if they’re a part of the action. The same graphics and transitions will be used for in-person and virtual attendees at the same events going forward, tying everything together for a more seamless communication of the group or campaign’s vision.
Going the extra distance to curate host and attendee experiences with unique, branded gifts or personalized “choose your own adventure” agendas make participants in-person and virtual feel like an integral part of a moment larger than themselves. End-to-end attention to detail will be how we approach events going forward for in-person attendees, too.
Shifts in how we think about events will shape the future of campaigning. Within our new normal, so much is possible.
Greg Hale is a partner at The Markham Group, a premier events firm, which has offices in Washington, D.C., Bentonville, and Los Angeles. He has worked on five presidential campaigns. Most recently, he served as traveling chief of staff for Mike Bloomberg. Follow him on Twitter at @GregHale1.