How to Successfully Pivot After A Cancelled Event
While it’s never ideal, a canceled event can lead to unforeseen creative experimentation in communications. This is the time to differentiate yourself in your audience’s eyes and make the most of a supposed “lost opportunity.” By using social engagement, content promotion, and in-person alternatives to your advantage, we’ve devised a list of ways you can make the most of a canceled event. This can, in turn, set you apart and begin building long-lasting industry connections.
Don’t Leave Media High & Dry
This may seem obvious, but just because you won’t be at an event in-person, doesn’t mean you can’t chat with that broadcast reporter or trade analyst on the phone.
Following a cancellation, make sure you immediately contact any media or influencers you were in touch with prior to the event and let them know you are still open to speaking about your talk tracks, product announcements, or predictions. Maybe offer them a data nugget or tangible industry prediction that will be of value.
They’re probably just as disappointed the event was canceled, and this shared commonality will allow for a more casual chat. In our experience, this actually leads to some laughs at the beginning of a phone briefing and sometimes even a deeper connection.
Instead of forfeiting your talk altogether, set up a webcast where audiences can easily tune in. You can set up these kinds of events on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram to garner interest and allow people to work your webcast into their own personal schedules. A recent example is Zendesk making a product announcement on LinkedIn after their Relate event was canceled.
Webcasting may even expand viewership beyond your original audience and it presents opportunities for direct interaction. Setting up a Facebook Live, for instance, allows for real-time connection just like a fireside Q&A. Audiences can react with emojis and leave questions in the comment section. Additionally, digitizing allows you to make your talk readily available for sharing across social media channels afterward.
If you’re mulling over your presentation and still want to share your thoughts, think about turning that deck into a written piece and posting on Medium or LinkedIn, or better yet, post the original deck on SlideShare. Like the webcast, you can share this post on various social media platforms or make it evergreen.
Posting to social media allows for more control, as well. Where on a webcast you might gain spontaneity and authenticity, on a blog you can tailor your messaging precisely to your audience, optimize it for search, and reach more people over time.
Another option besides blogging or live streaming is taking your panel to social media. You can host a Reddit AMA, Quora Session, or the more informal Twitter Q&A with followers. By setting these up, you bring your audience crucial topics and allow for organic conversation to take place.
Each one of these options has varied benefits. For instance, on Reddit and Quora, you would be the sole focus of the Q&A. However, Quora is far more controlled, while Reddit opens it up to a slew of real-time audience participation. Finally, opening up a conversation on Twitter gives you the chance to bring in other brands or partners, and allows you to reach your businesses’ followers directly.
Keep the Swag
If you were planning on giving out samples or “swag” to promote your brand, save it! You can still showcase your product in an effort to reach vendors or consumers by posting a form on your website, like Theo Chocolate did, and have people who were planning on attending the conference fill it out for direct shipping.
You can also engage directly with fans via a giveaway on social channels like Twitter or Facebook. This will again allow for real-time interaction, bringing you closer to your audience members.
Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Another option is hosting your own smaller-scale event by inviting fellow industry leaders to a panel. This can be as minimal as a casual talk at your office’s HQ. There, you can guide the conversation to focus on your talk track while also engaging with others in the space. You can also livestream this panel and post it on social media.
Planning your own event opens the door to invite local media and engage with those influencers directly. It may also provide the opportunity to invite colleagues in the space whose plans were also foiled. This is a moment to come together with your community in solidarity. Everyone is disappointed, so why not pool resources to make room for new moments of connectivity?
While a canceled conference will, no doubt, feel like a wasted opportunity at first, there are always strategic ways to ensure you get your product announcements or industry predictions out there. By determining what’s right for you via social media engagement, media relations, and webcasting, you can boost your own visibility and bring key people together.