Event planners routinely invest considerable care effort in creating compelling programs and generating widespread community awareness. Ironically, this often leaves little time to see both ahead of and beyond actual day-of activities themselves – both areas where tremendous value can be created for your audience. But several simple strategies can help you not only engage athletes or supporters more effectively. Using the following straightforward solutions, you can also extend the value of events to provide lasting benefit even for those who can’t attend.
Request Community Contributions – Invite observers to participate via Web, word-of-mouth, email, social media or official channels by submitting questions and suggestions, or showing support for athletes via comments, videos or podcasts prior to your occasion. Submissions can be used to shape event programming (e.g. when weighing trending topics), incorporated into speeches (i.e. by putting sent queries to experts), and used in supporting materials (ex: video reels filled with well-wishes). Note that all are fair game for posting on your website, sharing online, or incorporating into current or future programs, takeaways and promotions. Each presents a great way to acknowledge your community, and make its voice heard.
Film and Distribute Programs – As many resources as planners invest in offering attention-grabbing activities and speakers, many overlook the exponential gains videotaping provides despite its only incremental expenses. Always keep a camera on-hand during events to capture learning and insight, and ensure that the thrill of challenges and team-building activities are preserved for others to learn from and enjoy. Heart-stopping moments and inspirational highlights can easily be uploaded to sites like YouTube or Vimeo (where they can be promoted, shared or embedded into other websites), or incorporated into exclusive members-only archives. Can’t afford a professional camera crew? Dozens of budget-friendly portable HD camcorders cost just $100-$200.
Live Stream the Action – You can also bring the action home using live video streaming solutions. Services like Justin.tv, UStream and Stickam, or apps such as Qik, BFF and Livestream let you share video to computers, the Web or social networks from smartphones, tablets and more. A number of high-tech gadgets such as wearable action sports cameras Looxcie HD and HERO3 can also stream or record the excitement as seen through the eyes of athletes themselves. Just because fans can’t be on-hand doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy a front-row seat to your event.
Provide Complete Play-by-Play Commentary – These days, it doesn’t take a professional radio announcer to get a crowd riled up. Live blogging tools including ScribbleLive, CoverItLive, and Blyve let you share text, audio and video updates over the Internet as the action unfolds. Options such as Wordfaire and the WordPress Live Blogging plugin also make it possible to embed real-time commentary into preexisting websites completely free. Letting you share real-time news and analysis, it’s a handy way to cover event high points, and simultaneously create a blow-by-blow record of highlights and happenings to share or pull from later in future coverage.
Capture Advice and Insights – Content marketing and ongoing publishing efforts should be a part of every organization’s outreach programs. Events provide the perfect venue at which to tap athletes, experts and community members for learning, insights and advice which can be used to generate added value and help raise awareness all year long. As part of your programs, workshops and events, ask all to share stories, provide hints and tips, and offer support or inspiration. Quotes and commentary can then be incorporated back into newsletters, mailers, trailers and more – with so many great resources on-site, why not utilize them? Consider assigning volunteers to play journalist, or setting up an event area reserved for video- or audio-taping attendees’ thoughts.
Highlight Your Team Spirit – Enthusiastic as attendees are, especially if they’re a part of a larger company or organization, make a point of tapping into their passion and creativity. Invite them to share their spirit by sharing photos, slideshows, videos, favorite memories and more – all of which are easily posted to your event’s website, social network page or online community. Creations can quickly be shared on your Pinterest pinboard, shouted out on Twitter, or even incorporated into crowdsourced campaigns. (Submit your best designs for our new logo: Winners will be highlighted in local media campaigns, and enjoy a guest of honor role at the event!) The more creative, the more engaging programs will be – and the greater the chance you stand of going viral.
Collect and Respond to Fan Feedback – Now that your event’s done, don’t be afraid to ask: How we make the next one even better? Go beyond simple surveys and questionnaires by reaching out to fans via your Wiki, webpage, newsletter or social channels to find out what they loved, and would like to see more of in coming months. Encourage them to suggest future topics and programs, request feedback on their experiences, and brainstorm even better ways to share event highlights and learning. As a key part of any winning team, it’s never too early to get fans involved.