The situation around Covid-19 is hitting the event industry hard. While some larger festivals and events happening this summer can still hope for a good outcome, events are already being canceled throughout the world. With the event sector possibly being one of the last sectors to recover from the crisis, organizers are – or should be – calculating every possible outcome.
This uncertainty does not only affect the event organizers but the attendees as well. They are sometimes faced with a lack of information about the continuity of the event and about refunding or rescheduling options. Therefore, your loyal fans should be informed about the actions you are taking. Meaning: Right now!
If we divide the actions to be taken in this crisis into phases very generally, we can distinguish between (1) the immediate action phase, (2) the short term phase and (3) the long term phase. We will inspire you in the best way we can for the first two phases, as the last phase differs per event organizer.
If your event is taking place somewhere in the near future, this phase means that you will have to provide brief information about the continuation of your event. People are looking for confirmation that brands are transparent and trustworthy. Our government is doing this in line with the available data, and so should you.
What actions can you take?
- Put out a statement about whatever situation applies to you and the event that you’re organizing (be honest and sincere).
- On your homepage, implement a pop-up containing a link to the page that explains the current state of affairs. Make sure you update this information when necessary.
- On the ‘thank you’ page of your ticket buying tool, implement a piece of copy explaining what will happen in case of event cancellation due to Covid-19.
- Keep posting regularly on your socials with appropriate content (we’ll get to some ideas later).
- With all of the above: place yourself in the shoes of your attendees and keep their needs in mind.
After the immediate action phase, you will have to start thinking about the short term. The phase where panic has decreased and people are able to think more clearly. Whether your event has been canceled or postponed, or you’re not even sure yet, marketing-wise these are great times for branding. Instead of focusing on performance marketing, e.g. selling tickets for your event, try to focus on telling your brand story and connecting to your audience.
Let’s be clear here: Panic may have decreased, but potential visitors will still be cautious about buying tickets for your event. If we look at the pyramid of Maslow, most of us will not be eager to buy luxury products such as event tickets, at least until we exit the safety phase.
This does not mean your audience is not invested anymore. To explain: the people that
supported your event in the past, still do. Maybe even more in these times, as we see a great sense of togetherness and community. If you are able to get the message right, you can use this heightened sense of community to forge a strong consumer-brand relationship. Try translating your brand values into something people are looking for right now and something people can identify with. This way you’ll make sure that, when the time is right, you will still be top of mind.
- Deliver real value
- Act responsibly
- Do right for the community
- Be able to deliver purpose
Specifically, this means that you should start creating content and writing appropriate copy which transfers the sentiment info something positive. If you’re one of the luckier organizers who has held events in the past, this could be the time for reminiscence. Use video and images of past events and ensure your past visitors and fans that you will meet again in the future.
Some other ideas popping up in the festival spheres are live streams from artists or broadcasting past shows, creating podcasts or playlists, raising polls for the fans about their ways of coping with the lockdown situation, and many more creative ideas. Overall, we see great collaborations happening, often involving already booked artists contributing to customized playlists or live sets. Sometimes donations are asked for relevant charities.
B2B-events, like network events, conferences and trade shows are using a different approach. Whereas the festival industry can in some cases work with live streams, trade shows and conferences have to think about which actions are applicable and would add value to visitors and invested audiences. The effect of a workshop or talk might not be the same in an online setting when compared to an actual live event where an audience is present, and people might value this differently. Take this into account when rethinking your event.
While live streams may be one of the first things that come to mind, organizers should think twice before using them. Stay critical of the added value of it being ‘live’. In many cases, the ‘live’ element does not add value and it would make more sense to pre-record the talk, presentation or DJ-set and make it available on demand.
Stay top of mind! While these are difficult times, we are sure that a lot of sunshine will come after the rain. When it arrives, you will want to be top of mind, so that potential visitors will think about your event first. Think about it: what festival lover wouldn’t want to party hard (and safely) after being cooped up inside for so long?
Furthermore, we realize that the information above may or may not be appropriate for you. We know that there are event organizers who are heavily impacted financially and might even face bankruptcy. Others will have to struggle but will survive in the end. We empathize deeply with everyone impacted. The event industry is very important to us and we are eager to help you as much as we can in these harsh times!
We salute you,
Hide and Seek: the loving advertising agency