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Events Make the Big Pivot
Arundhati Roy, an acclaimed novelist, said in the 
Financial Times that throughout history pandemics forced humans to break with the past and imagine their worlds anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

Portals into the new unknown range from the grave to the mundane. From a communications perspective, this includes new interfaces (
Zoom apps), creative venues (Hype Houses), and digital spaces for connection (Discord).

As these technologies suggest, we need to watch the live event space closely. To survive the pandemic, sports leagues, media companies, and events businesses have reconfigured their models as well as simultaneously and continually pivot in real-time. 


Last month my colleague Adam wrote about the restart of the NBA. Having been a virtual fan courtside, he found the experience smooth for a pioneering concept but limiting from a real-time perspective. Beyond the curtain, the league continues to experiment with ideas that enhance a hybrid experience for fans, game venue for players, and perhaps most important for the league, new monetization models. The latter is especially critical if the NBA starts next season without fans in the stands.

This trend is not unique to sports. TED recently pivoted from a 3-day in-person event to a multi-week subscription model. Social Media Week similarly shifted to a live and on-demand streaming service for marketers. As part, we will premiere our four-episode Media Genius show next week. 

Organizations aren’t just salvaging events, but tapping into far larger markets. The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity morphed its
conference into a free digital learning experience, registering 70,000 subscribers from 145 countries. By moving online, LinkedIn's TransformHER expanded from 400 attendees to 62,000 views.

Non-event companies that rely heavily on conferences for product introductions, media interviews, and partner development have also radically shifted orientation, with companies like IBM offering virtual sessions and adjusting offerings to align with new realitiesSkillsoft took its 24-hour partner/customer event virtual, incorporating all the elements of an in-person conference, from keynotes to trivia competitions. All-in, attendees consumed 1.4 million moments of content.

While not historically viewed in an event context, higher ed is in the same boat. To survive blowback on exorbitant pricing for online classes, colleges must rethink educational lectures into full-blown media experiences. Pioneers like Harvard Computer Science professor David Malan have built virtual learning empires, incorporating high production value, theater-like entertainment, and human-focused connectivity to educate students expecting to get their money's worth.   

Virtual events and experiences will only continue to escalate in importance, with established events players, digital content producers, tech companies and newcomers alike continuing to pivot in response to this new, demanding environment. 

Chris Perry
@cperry248

As always, if you find this newsletter valuable we would be grateful if you encouraged others to sign up by directing them here.
What We're Reading
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Zoom Fatigue and the New Ways to Party
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Video platforms like Zoom have allowed professional and social lives to carry on with varying levels of success. But one major complaint? Video calls require your face to always be on, contributing to non-verbal burnout. Enter newcomers seeking to solve this problem: virtual coffee shops, body-responsive avatars, audio-centered platforms that allow for movement and smaller-group conversation, and beyond. Which ones are likely to outlive lockdown, and how should brands activate in them?

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Emerging Technology
Virtual Events Platform Airmeet Raises $12M
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Airmeet brings IRL event features online with backstages, table assignments, networking and sponsorship-liaison functionality. Co-founder Lalit Mangal said platform usage has grown 2,000% over the last quarter without advertising, demonstrating real interest in this make-it-feel-more-real tech.
Deep Take
The Anatomy of a Video Experience
By MAGNA, IPG Media Lab, Identity, and VEVO
This collaborative research explores how multicultural audiences consume content across multiple devices; motivations fueling their viewing habits; and the influence of culturally-relevant content on video engagement and ad receptivity. Don’t miss the spotlight on co-viewing insights and a deep-dive into music video consumption.
Copyright © 2020 Weber Shandwick



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