Behind the Curtain at PCMA’s EduCon Virtual Extension
By Mary Reynolds Kane, Director, Online Marketing
Professional Convention Management Association
From Henry Givray’s Passion of Leadership to Patricia Martin’s How to Launch in a Digital World, the remote audience was tuned in and engaged to the Virtual Event hosted from PCMA’s Education Conference in San Antonio.
In efforts to minimize the budget, we chose to only broadcast live one day from the conference. We worked with the team to move the sessions around so that we would only have to have one additional camera, lighting, internet line, and other equipment in one concurrent room. Since we needed a camera in the General Session room for the IMAG, we just needed to add an internet line to that room. We had a producer onsite working with the Marriott AV team, Multiview (our streaming company) and InXpo (our platform) ahead of time, ensuring that we had the right equipment and testing times set-up in advance. This was critical to our success onsite.
We chose not to broadcast the luncheon program since a large part of it was networking for the onsite audience. We wanted to make sure that the remote audience was engaged with the material and had the opportunity to earn CEUs, so we decided to broadcast the general session from Sunday.
From 8:30 a.m. to 4:00, 273 remote attendees watched and posted 1636 chats (instant messages) which was an incredible amount of engagement. I moderated the event, sometimes acting as tech support, sometimes on camera, and most times just chatting with everyone ensuring they stayed engaged.
My Key Takeaway
It is important to make sure that you do all of the pre-work to ensure that the event goes off without a hitch, but one of the most important things about which I was reminded was that engagement is key and the audience’s experience is paramount.
First, dedicate a voice to the remote audience, someone that can ask questions on their behalf to the speakers and someone that makes sure they are engaged.
Next, make sure you meet with your speakers ahead of time to help them understand that a remote audience has different needs than an onsite audience. A remote audience today is not satisfied with only watching the session like it’s a TV program. They want what Jeff Hurt’s session “Strategies for Attracting and Growing the Right Audience” was. He would ask the onsite audience to answer a question at their tables, but then would walk over to me and ask the remote audience the same question. I would act as their voice and read what they had written to him – trying to identify each comment with an attendee and then we would chat a little bit about what that meant.
It was funny at one point because we were talking about customer centric vs product centric brands and the remote audience was way ahead of the onsite audience. They had come to a conclusion that the onsite audience reached about 5 minutes later. It was really cool to see. The numbers didn’t lie either – there were 134 people tuned into that session and 645 chats posted, more than double the number of chats for any of the other sessions.
The wonderful thing about virtual is that you can extend the conference’s life beyond the onsite experience. We have found that doing a rebroadcast of the event is a complete no-brainer. You don’t have to worry about equipment costs or content, so there are no exceptional fees associated with it (other than the platform) AND you have an audience that heard from the remote and onsite audience how much they enjoyed their experience so they are seeking out the content. Another positive is that people can earn CEUs and network with each other.
On June 26th we will be rebroadcasting content that we showed during our live virtual event on June 11th, but also will be including new sessions as well. Some of the speakers will be joining us to chat and I will again be moderating. I encourage you to take part to see how we are extending the life of the conference (and to watch some really exceptional content).
If anyone has any questions about virtual, I am happy to chat with you about it. I know my first forays into it were daunting at first, so any help I can offer I am more than happy to! It’s a wonderful medium that really extends your brand globally.