They’re back! Top tips for running face-to-face events

Face-to-face events (remember those?) may not be quite as they were before the pandemic, but at least you can meet contacts, suppliers and clients in person once more. We ask event organisers for their top tips for making sure events go as smoothly as possible and one PR exec discusses how she feels about getting away from her screen at last.

Make the most of technology

Sophie Bannister, head of creative development at communications agency M&C Saatchi Talk: “Whilst virtual events have been incredibly effective and innovative over the past year, it is undeniable that there is excitement in the air at the thought of being up close and personal again. Whilst there may be an initial burst of activity, it is really important that we don’t forget the benefits that have come from virtual and make sure as planners we continue to use technology to get the best of both worlds.“

Don’t overwhelm your audience

Sophie Bannister: “It could be all too easy to start cramming diaries full and overwhelming your audience with choice. We really need to question the value the experience is offering and the ask from the audience in return. I am most looking forward to seeing how key retail periods this year are transformed via the use of face to face and tech to offer deeper experiences beyond the product value.”

Make it a hybrid event

Christophe Castagnera, head of connected experiences at creative agency Imagination: “As the world prepares to open up, and events return, it’s important to remember that we won’t be back to complete normalcy yet, if ever. Many people are desperate to attend in-person events again, but others will remain wary of the virus and some will just prefer to tune in to virtual events from the comfort of their own homes. “So, the future for events and experiences will be a hybrid one. By blending the physical and the virtual, all audiences can be catered for. We’ve already seen brands like Samsung, Ford and Bombay Sapphire successfully incorporating hybrid experiences into their marketing strategies in the past year. Customers have eagerly embraced virtual festivals and experiences as they offer something different and complementary to physical experiences, with new ways to participate coming from the world of social gaming like Avatars, Virtual Reality worlds and Live chat. Brands should do a complete audit of their audiences to define and create their virtual customer - to be certain they understand their wants and needs. Armed with this knowledge, brands can give everyone a memorable experience - whether sitting on their sofas or on top of their friend’s shoulders.”

Put safety first

Chris Jones at agency Boys and Girls Promotions: “As a business that supplies staff for events in the public private education and corporate sectors we are delighted that events are back, as a business it’s important, but also as social creatures I think we all crave social interaction 

“Events must be more organised and safer not only for attendees, but also for staff working at events. We have had plenty of time to consider how to keep our staff safe including lateral flow testing and re-engaging with venues to understand their policies on the safety of the buildings. In addition, we have been working with events organisers to promote the safety and protocols of attending events.”

First person 

I’m so excited!

One PR exec reveals how much she is looking forward to getting out there again. 

Laura Blackwell, digital PR executive at marketing agency Hedgehog: “All of my work is done online; often communicating with people every day over email. I love connecting with others and learning about new things and people, so I love this aspect of my job and am lucky to have had it throughout the pandemic, whilst having the luxury of working from home and being able to create my own schedule.

“But I am so excited for actual events to start up again - one thing I've learnt over the last year is that balance is really important. After dealing with burnout this year and not being able to let off steam in the ways I normally would, I'm relieved to be able to have real events to look forward to and people to see. It's already given me perspective again and reminded me of my life outside of work.“

Many events are still virtual (see PRmoment events here), but as live events are now an option, we very much look forward to seeing you there!