I just sat through one of the better panel presentations I’ve seen in a while, despite the fact that it was a series of monologues with the occasional cross examination. Here are the highlights:
Michael Doyle, Exec. Director of the Virtual Edge Institute introduced the panel with the theme of engagement. That won huge points with me since I’m all about audience engagement as the #1 consideration for any event. He specifically stated that in 2010 we dropped the “or” from our consideration of Virtual OR Physical. Now it is about “how we engage our audience to reach a common goal.”
Chris Price from Graph Expo extolled the value of using a virtual event prior to and immediately following his physical expo, but was careful to change terminology from virtual “event” to virtual “preview” to satisfy the skeptics within his organization who were concerned with cannibalization.
Tony Uphoff from Techweb, part of UBM, had a few great insights:
- He said that the media industry in general has to stop thinking about “Media Platforms” and start thinking in terms of “Platforms of Engagement.” There’s the “engagement” again!
- The first insight supports the overall trend away from PUSH and toward PULL style media.
- One of the more aggressive insights were the idea that we’re actually shifting away from search and toward social, meaning that the way we find information is actually, ironically, returning to push, but that it’s being pushed from our social network rather than a media outlet. I agree, but I still believe that search will play a central role in information distribution for a long time to come. After all, search answers our questions where social insights offer more of a “wow, that’s interesting” sort of experience.
- Finally, he introduced the concept of Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS) where marketing is considered more of an ongoing service rather than a start/stop project or campaign. Completely agree, but how it materializes is still left to be seen.
Steve Lieber, CEO at HIMMS, offered his take on the two annual events that his organization has run each year since 2007. His key insight was that providing a familiar environment that your audience is used to is most important when you’re starting out, emphasizing the importance of easy navigation.
Chris Brown from NAB mentioned something that is familiar: “virtual events are still work. Just because it is online doesn’t mean that it is easy.” That was backed up by the 1100 staff-hour figure that Steve presented for effort expended producing one of their events.
Kara Wilson from Cisco rounded out the panel with a fin story about being pulled over while she was attending a WebEx video conference on her iPad, which had the audience roaring. Her real insight, however, was about how to sell virtual events into any organization by envisioning what your success will look like and presenting that to your decision makers.
Overall the panel was lively and packed a lot of good information. The general mood in the room was positive and encouraging, which is a far cry from last year’s PCMA conference when virtual was not well understood and looked at as a rival and not an ally.