Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, consumers and audiences have all been forced indoors in a bid to prevent the further spread of infection. This has led to a surge in online activity and engagement, with brands and publishers following suit – with a wave of social media efforts, virtual events, and Zoom webinars filling in the gap for in-person events.
A year later, however, quarantine fatigue has set in – alongside a continual resurge in cases, complicating recovery plans and delaying the resumption of face-to-face affairs. In the wake of new virus strains and emerging trends in consumer behaviour, it is high time for brands and public relations practitioners to ditch the old mindset that this situation is temporary, and embrace that the new normal is here to stay.
As soon as brands and PR agencies begin to get creative with new normal restrictions, they will be able to produce winning strategies that will keep their audiences hooked and engaged. Here are some of the trends in media and PR events we anticipate to be more common in this era, as well as ways you can adopt them for your campaigns.
Explore hybrid events
A year of online webinars and virtual calls has led to the dreaded Zoom fatigue – resulting in high attrition rates and lower participation numbers. While online methods have certainly allowed organisers to reduce costs in certain aspects, these perceived savings lose their cost benefit in the long run if they result in fewer attendees and disengaged participants.
While going back to in-person conferences is unlikely for now, brands who can effectively recreate the feeling of being present in the flesh while offering interesting interactions will succeed. We have seen hybrid events that blend online and in-person activities, and these will no doubt continue. Hybrid events offer a dynamic aspect to virtual events that make them more human – resulting in better connections and a more engaging discussion that keeps your audiences tuned.
Although virtual means might offer some convenience in logistics, nothing quite beats interactions done in a physical setting. Consider having moderators and panelists in the same room or studio, while being broadcast over digital platforms and social media channels for your viewers.
Look into smaller, intimate events
As different cities continue to reassess gatherings in small groups, look into more intimate affairs – such as a tight-knit event with fewer and highly curated set of media partners and influencers as opposed to a large guestlist. While large events with a long list of attendees can create a certain impact, going by the numbers loses its relevance, especially in today’s setting.
Smaller events with a highly selected, invite-only roster allows your team to personalise the affair in a much more meaningful way that enriches your relations with media people and influencers, while crafting more significant and relevant messages for your target audiences.
Similarly, even virtual events could benefit from a smaller number of participants – a large webinar with 100 participants makes it too easy for your invited guests to zone out.
Orchestrate coordinated efforts happening around the region
While granular events at the local level are encouraged, strategising these small events must be seen from a bigger picture – think of coordinating various community events all happening simultaneously around the country or the region, all sharing the same theme or concept. This allows your brand to foster richer engagement and interactions with local thought leaders and their respective communities, while ensuring a consistent and strong brand message across the board.
Plan for a more polished and rehearsed programme
In-person events allow for candor and surprise, where elements of “expect the unexpected” make these affairs more interesting. In contrast, loosely planned virtual events can come off as lacking in preparation and monotonous, which enables participants to lose interest.
Virtual events must be planned like a concert or a television production, with a polished and rehearsed programme that provides spectacle and a clear flow that viewers can keep up with easily.
Create experiential activities
The prevalence of webinars have relegated invited attendees to mere, passive viewers – losing the opportunity for two-way interactions. When planning virtual or hybrid events, consider creating experiential activities. These can come in the form of interactive PR kits sent to influencers’ homes that allow them to take a more active part at the time of the call.
Navigate this new post-COVID landscape with the right PR partners
In the new normal, brands and PR practitioners need to step up their game in enriching interactions and shaping unique experiences. The right digital PR agency can help businesses and organisations create warm and genuine connections and tell rich narratives, even through online means.
Navigate this new post-COVID landscape with the right PR partners. Blue Totem Communications proudly combines their high-value relationships with respected media partners and influencers across Singapore, Malaysia and Southeast Asia, as well as their know-how in crafting engagement and influencer relations for brand stories that create an impact. Get in touch with us at bluetotem.co/contact-us today.