When Events Get Canceled: 5 Ways to Deliver a Company Message You Intended to Share In-Person

March 12, 2020

John Kaplan

John Kaplan is Group Creative Director at Centerline Digital, a content marketing agency focused on strategic and digital content based in Raleigh, NC. In his role, Kaplan works directly with clients, architecting creative solutions that address business challenges and needs while also driving results.

Life happens. From unexpected weather to a global health crisis, a host of forces outside of our control can jeopardize our planning. The recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak shines a lens on this reality. In the wake of the cancellation of large events, such as Mobile World Congress, Facebook Global Marketing Summit, and Google I/O, enterprise brands are scrambling to find alternative ways to share important announcements—announcements they had hoped to make in-person.

The “obvious” answer might be to create a webinar or to livestream a presentation. But these experiences are prone to technical difficulties and often leave viewers uninspired. Instead, businesses should consider more creative ways to share company news, by leveraging innovative technology and storytelling best practices. There is no perfect replacement for the magic of a live moment, but alternatives do have benefits, including cost-savings, more control, and reduced risk and pressure for speakers.

Here are five ideas B2B brands can use to convey important company news in the wake of an unexpected event cancellation.

1.     Take to the stage (then add graphics)

A Large Format Stage Presentation combines footage of presenters on stage with engaging graphics and videos that are added in the post-production process. It is a huge step beyond sharing a PowerPoint with a voice-over, and a more cinematic take on delivering a company message.

To mimic the energy and scale of a live event, an LFSP is filmed at a large theater venue with multiple cameras. Companies and their production partners use a custom green screen to replace the back of the stage. Then, in the editing process, the green screen is replaced with relevant visuals to augment the speaker’s message and keep audiences interested.

You will lose the thrill of a live audience, but these staged events have merit, particularly when speakers are delivering complicated messages, or when getting the verbiage right is paramount. Since the LFSP isn’t live-streamed, speakers can use multiple takes to nail their delivery. The production team will ensure the video feels authentic while reflecting the speakers’ best performance.

Companies can also consider supplementing the presentation with a live Q&A session so audiences can ask questions, as they would during a webinar, after the presentation.

2.     Add new elements to your keynote

Sometimes filming a keynote, TED Talks-style, makes the most sense for circulating company news. But companies should improve audience engagement by adding interactive features. For example, a business could host discussions about the announcement on the video landing page or on social media, moderated by subject matter experts and/or people from the brand. Businesses can also use polling features to glean valuable feedback from audiences while keeping them engaged.

3.     Switch up the format

With your message, audience, and time and budget constraints top-of-mind, consider creative storytelling formats you could use to share your news. For example, an enterprise could leverage a late-night talk show format, in which a host brings up guests—companies executives, partners or clients—to share key messaging. This playful approach allows multiple thought leaders to shine and engages the audience in a way that feels at once familiar and novel. If budget allows, consider securing an industry expert outside of your company to serve as your host.

This approach can be especially effective for B2B companies sharing technical news, as it keeps audiences engaged even as content gets complicated or detail-oriented.

4.     Find the right media partner

 To reach a wider audience and drum up awareness about company news, enterprises can partner with a relevant publication to launch creative marketing campaigns. Consider a site takeover that includes banner and video advertising and branded content plays. Note, this tactic works best when the announcement is truly newsworthy, and when the partnering publication has credibility and relevance to your audience. 

5.         Go back to where you started

If you planned to make an announcement at a major event that was canceled or that you can no longer attend, reach out to the event brand for solutions. Often, event companies have opportunities to reach their audience of attendees and prospects, such as branded newsletters or apps. For example, MWC recently launched MWC Shorts, short videos that bring together innovators and experts from the mobile ecosystem. You will still connect with the conference audience and associate your company with the event brand, but you can create the video remotely.

Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control jeopardize the in-person moment you had been planning. But the show must go on. There are ways to customize and tailor virtual meetings, and to convey important news in novel, engaging formats that drive engagement. While there is no perfect substitute for a canceled event, these alternatives have unique benefits and can prove as effective, or even more effective, than your original plan.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.