“Gathering” During COVID-19: How to (Not) Hold an Event During a Pandemic

By Rebecca Ann Owen, Account Director 

Recently, conferences, baseball games, weddings, the Boston Marathon, and even the 2020 Olympics have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. Some events have been moved online or postponed until the fall, but what is the best course of action for you and your organization? Here is a step by step guide about moving your event online. 

  1. Take a Look at Your Event
    Take time to look at the logistics of your event. An event such as a seminar can be easily moved to a webinar, but an event such as a volleyball tournament might prove difficult. Online events provide a great opportunity for your brand to foster a virtual community during these socially distant times.
  2. Communicate to your vendors
    Be sure to contact your vendors and take a look at your contracts. If the company can’t refund you, maybe ask them to cater a lunch when work returns to normal or maybe you can donate the food from your caterer to children who need meals.
  3. Communicate with your sponsors
    Sponsors have dedicated their money to your event. Be sure to reach out and ask them how they would best like to proceed. If you can move your event online, explain how their money will still be put to good use. How you handle this situation can dictate the future of the relationship between you and your sponsor.
  4. Find a Platform
    If your event can be moved online, you need to find a platform that fits your event’s needs. Some popular hosting sites include Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, and Bizzabo.
    Zoom is very user friendly and allows for multiple users to talk when the host determines. Zoom has also recently created some security measures for your event such as passwords and waiting rooms. Waiting rooms allow the host to determine who is admitted to the event and who isn’t.
    Facebook Live allows for a wide audience and is easily accessible by your social media followers. Facebook Live also allows reactions and a chat that easily allows for engagement from the audience.
  5. Find a Time
    An online event could mean that your original event time is not ideal. A gala that has moved to an online fundraiser would not work at 8 pm. Try to find a time that works well for your audience. Now that the event is online, travel and distance will not be a problem so find a time that works well.
  6. Determine Ticketing
    Do you need to sell tickets to this online event? You can do this over popular ticketing apps such as Eventbrite, but determine if a ticket is necessary in the first place. Maybe you can open the event up to the public and ask them for a voluntary or suggested donation.
  7. Communicate to your audience
    Reach out to the people who have already RSVP’d to your event. Thank them for registering ahead of time and explain to them the situation. Invite them personally to your new virtual event. Also, reach out to potential attendees and explain the transition. Attendees and potential attendees will value clear and concise communication.
  8. Promote
    Now that your event is online, promote on your social media! Use this opportunity to excite your audience about the online event. In these times of social isolation, people are excited about virtual events that split up their work and Netflix binging.
  9. Ensure Stable Connection
    On the day of your event, be sure to make sure the host has a stable and strong internet connection. This way there is less of a chance of interruption due to signal and bad connection. Make sure the host and speaker are in a quiet place so that you limit interruptions from background noise as well.
  10. Have fun!
    People want to have fun and laugh. These are uncertain times and people appreciate having a positive attitude and a fun event. Use an icebreaker to start the event and be sure to thank everyone for coming and taking the time out for their day.