Did you ever think that in 2020, we would be favouring dancing around the living room instead of the doof tent and learning from local food and drink producers over Zoom, instead of over a trestle table? According to Forbes online, virtual events are up 1,000% since the rise of COVID-19.

In the world of PR, we pride ourselves on running great events for our clients, whether that be to showcase their products or services, or celebrate milestones. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, we weren’t able to run our events as planned, however, with the help of technology and creative thinking, we too took to the world of virtual events.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to virtual events is creating an experiencing that is compelling and engaging enough to hold people’s attention when they have a constant flow of “virtual events” already happening 24/7 on their devices in the form of social media. With virtual being the only player in the game at the moment (in Victoria at least), coming up with creative ideas beyond the screen, and captivating content, is what will hold the attention of your audience.

 

Beyond that big one, here are 4 essential elements  to nail for a successful virtual event:

1. Set a clear objective for your virtual event: This will make sure that you know exactly who you want to target and what you are trying to produce.

2. Choosing the right virtual platform: Each virtual event we’ve helped publicise were on different platforms that worked well for their particular target markets and the nature of the content. Some platforms could be YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Zoom.

3. Make sure you are aware of any troubleshooting that might appear: Especially because it’s online and we often can’t have control of how things work with certain networks, it’s best to do test runs first and think out anything that could potentially go wrong.

4. Market to the right target audience and publications/platforms: Creating awareness of your event and attracting attendees is the main aim – no point delivering a kick arse event if there’s nobody experiencing it! Make sure you have a clear idea of who the event is for and you target them via the right mediums.

In the past 4 months, we have collaborated on three virtual events for our clients; UpFlow Brewery Flow Festival, Innocent Bystander, and Winemakers of Rutherglen. I want to be clear that our role in the event production was consultative and the events themselves were produced by our clients directly (excellently!). We contributed to make sure that the events had what it takes to capture and hold the audience’s attention and then worked to garner publicity leading to the event registrations, sales and participation.

 

Innocent Bystander – 6 Week Virtual Tastings:

Innocent Bystander ran a 6-week virtual live tasting bar that you could enjoy from the comfort of your own home. Running their tastings live from their Facebook page, with their charismatic sommelier Marg bringing the education and entertainment, brought the joy and love of wine to everyone indulging at home. I mean, there really is nothing that a good glass of Pinot Noir can’t fix in the midst of these challenging times.

Each week, Marg would take wine lovers through the ins and outs of a specific varietal and provide face to face tasting notes, side by side comparisons with other regions, food pairings and just general demystification of the wide world of wine. The success of this online virtual wine tasting brought attention to a wide range of Innocent Bystander wines, from their Mother’s Day Brunch pairings, to their newest premium range of Mea Culpa wines.

The 6-week virtual wine tasting was a huge success, scoring media attention from the likes of Urban List, The Age Weekend Mag, Time Out Melbourne and Herald Sun.

With an idea that appeals to most wine enthusiasts, a virtual wine tasting event has the potential to attract positive media attention, engage audiences when you can’t IRL and engender positive brand sentiment.

Winemakers of Rutherglen – Winery Walkabout the House:

The famous Rutherglen annual event Winery Walkabout was unable to happen in-region this year, however, when the minds of winemakers and event and PR guns come together, crazy fun stuff can happen. “Winery Walkabout the House” was born.

The virtual event saw all Rutherglen wineries come together to ‘virtually’ showcase Rutherglen’s celebrated wines with online wine chats, masterclasses, and live entertainment. Participants could pre-purchase a wine pack with a variety of Rutherglen wines and indulge with friends and family from the comfort of their own homes.

Hosted by TV personality Tim Campbell and featuring specially produced recordings from independent Aussie musicians like headliner Hot Dub Time Machine as well as blues musician, Ash Grunwald and folk-rock duo Pierce Brothers, it was an interactive day of wine and fun. A perfect combo for your Saturday afternoon.

The virtual event received rave reviews and was featured in many media outlets including Time Out Melbourne, Urban List, local radio stations and Channel 7 news.

Flow Festival – Virtual Non-Alcoholic Beer Festival:

Flow Festival is Australia’s first-ever non-alcoholic beer festival, run by UpFlow Brewery  and publicised by us.

The event featured a panel of non-alcoholic brewers and Purpose & Presence leaders, discussing the trends in non-alcoholic beer and the alcohol-free industry. The virtual event showcased alcohol-free craft beers from the country’s leading breweries and retailers with the aim to normalize zero alcohol as a legitimate first preference within Australia’s beer culture.

In the space of 2 weeks, we were able to successfully score 18  publicity hits in a vast array of newspapers, digital publishers and broadcast outlets including Concrete Playground, Herald Sun, The Age, The Daily Telegraph, and Urban List.

 

While we miss the creativity, intensity, adrenalin and atmosphere of planning and executing in-person events, the world of virtual events is currently the only game in town and we’re enjoying playing it.

This blog was written by virtual event publicity machine Lori Spilkin.

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