Louise Findlay-Wilson, founder of Energy PR, shares advice on how to market your event during COVID-19…

Events professionals face a unique challenge, as cancelled and postponed shows, plus uncertainty around events planned later in the year, risk leaving audiences feeling confused. So, the need for good communications is more critical than ever.

Maintain share of voice

Whatever sphere your event is in – even if it has sadly had to be cancelled – it is vital to stay on peoples’ radars, to maintain your share of voice and demonstrate your event’s proposition. After all, you want your authority and credentials to be in good shape for when it does eventually take place.

Even if you managed to host your event before the lockdown, you still may need to change your PR strategy. Stopping communications after an event, only to restart them during the build up to the next one, may be the normal practice, but it’s no longer the best solution in this climate. At this time audiences need reassuring, and exhibitors and traders need all the support and promotion they can get. So, an event which keeps the communication going post-show, keeps sharing content and adding value to audiences, will forge a much deeper connection.

Stretching tight budgets

With a postponed event you’ve another set of challenges. Not least the task of rejuvenating visprom campaigns for the new date, having already spent a large chunk of your marketing budget gearing up for the original one.

At such times you must make use of the assets available to you. Repurpose what you’ve issued before, giving it a fresh spin through additional content from your artists, speakers, traders or exhibitors. Also utilise content that you gathered at previous events and which you haven’t released before. Talent interviews, video footage, research and media coverage will all work if deployed in the right way.

Work together

It is in everyone in the industry’s interest that events like yours survive. That’s why media partners, speakers, venues, traders, exhibitors, sponsors and suppliers, will all be happy to work with you to make that happen, so equip them. Talk through the possibilities. Not least, arm your event partners with content for their newsletters, email blasts and social channels.

Don’t be tone deaf

Whilst ramping up your communications, take care to get the tone right. Data shows that people are as concerned about how brands are fulfilling their responsibility to society and their employees during the COVID-19 crisis as they are about how they are treating their customers, so ensure your communications respond to this. Tread a careful path between optimism about your event, and sensitivity around the current climate.