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News And Views

News & Views

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  • 31 March 2020
  • David Lucas

The big event has been cancelled. Now what?

The list of conferences, summits and other events that have been cancelled, postponed or turned digital in recent months is long, and growing every day. Whether industry-focused or vendor-led, the trend that started with Mobile World Congress is set to continue for a while longer.

For most technology companies, events are a staple of the marketing calendar. And they’re important to technology decision makers, too. We recently commissioned research which found that 70% of this audience see events and conferences as a source of information on new and emerging technologies.

Technology companies also have a vital role to play in assisting us through this crisis. Whether it’s developing tools to help analyse data or improve supply chains, keeping businesses moving despite the headwinds coming their way, or helping us all stay better connected, these tech companies have important stories to tell.

So, if both technology brands and the people they’re trying to reach see events as important sources for news and trends, how should communications teams adapt in an era where the future of the in-person event hangs in the balance?

Of course, in the current climate there needs to be an element of common sense applied to any news announcement. But, as we plan for the 12 to 18 months ahead, how can technology brands ensure that uncertainty around events doesn’t stop them being able to communicate important news? Here are our thoughts:

  1. Taking it virtual: Many technology companies have switched their events to digital. This means they can just host the same sessions, announce the same news and expect it all to turn out the same, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. In-person events work well as there is a captive audience, and the networking element is often more useful than the sessions themselves. Brands need to consider how they can turn this into an experience, tailored for the individual. Consider turning relevant sessions into a playlist and summarising key points to entice viewers. And don’t forget the networking element – could a LinkedIn group or a Telegram channel be set up to keep the discussion going?
  2. Trust the data: If you’d planned to use an event that’s now been cancelled to announce big news, don’t just make the announcement at the same time regardless. Analyse where the media conversation is going – what the trending stories are, how news is travelling, how certain topics are resonating. Use this to decide whether it is the right time to make the announcement, or if a different timing or approach is required.

  3. Don’t forget the trades: Trade media is the top source for news on emerging technology trends, relied upon by 82% of IT decision makers. At the moment, these publications are focusing on how big tech is helping respond to the crisis. But, as the curve flattens and countries gain more control over the outbreak, reporting will start to diversify. Stories about how technology is genuinely supporting governments, businesses and individuals through the pandemic will be of interest, but taking an altruistic tone is the key.

  4. Be creatively brave: Events are a tried and tested format. With the right news and approach they will work, but taking news away from an event gives the opportunity to try different things. Brands should challenge themselves to think differently – how does the news make a difference to their audience’s lives? How far are they willing to be creatively brave to stand out from the crowd? The event format often includes logistical constraints in announcing news. If that format isn’t being used, brands could have a new world of possibilities to try.

For more insights on how technology brands can effectively communicate their stories, download our latest research here.