In common with other B2B publishers, events are a key part of the revenue mix for Press Gazette parent company New Statesman Media Group (NSMG).
- June 28, 2021
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So when the first pandemic lockdown killed off the global exhibitions and face-to-face events industry overnight in March 2020 NSMG had to pivot fast to the new virtual and digital world.
Emily Mincer joined the company as head of events operations in September 2020 when it had already signed partnerships with two major virtual events platforms to host some of its biggest events.
The problem she faced was how to host a range of round-tables, breakfasts and smaller networking/knowledge events which were essential to the business but not cost-effective to host on the platforms it already had partnerships with.
She also says the were some drawbacks with the virtual events companies they were using: “We were finding the relationships with the platforms hard: from communications and introductions to ease of set-up. It was also difficult to find a platform that we could trust to give our customers the same experience every time.
“We were very new to running virtual events and we tried to replicate all the aspects of physical events. We thought it had to look like a physical event, with exhibition booths and so on. But as we were running more events we found people weren’t engaging with all the different functionality that we were putting out there.”
So with the existing platforms not working brilliantly, and not cost-effective when it came to smaller events, NSMG needed to find a new partner.
A colleague had been impressed with a myOnvent-hosted event they had attended so Emily got in touch with the Norway-based company.
How to Stage Successful Hybrid Events: Read MyOnvent’s 12-page guide packed with data, insight and useful advice (promoted whitepaper)
She said: “The main thing for us is that they took everything that was really fiddly on the other platforms we have worked with and simplified it. The technology is really user friendly and gives the customer much more control.
“I found that customisation for individual events which had been taking days could be done in an hour or so. The simplified user journey was also really helpful for us in terms of onboarding clients.
“Using myOnvent also meant we were finally able to do all our events fully live, whereas before we were having to do a huge amount pre-recorded which put strains on our production team but was essential because we couldn’t be confident with the reliability of the platforms we had been using.”
Emily added that the customer service from myOnvent has been “fantastic” and that they are “very responsive” with queries: “They have been able to quickly turn around customised designs and have even added new functionality to the platform based on feedback.”
In the year from September Emily’s team has hosted some 30 events on myOnvent. The majority would have previously been held face-to-face but some were new-to-market digital-only.
New events included a half-day conference on Biotechnology hosted by the New Statesman featuring a keynote from UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi, the company’s own internal awards and Tech Monitor Live – a half-day series of interviews and round tables featuring “Tomorrow’s Tech Leaders”.
The events were all free to attend and mostly advertising-driven, together together delivering significant revenue to the company.
B2B digital events: What NSMG has learned about making the switch
Asked what the key things are that she has learned about the pivot from physical to digital, Emily says: “You need to make the event as simple as possible. People can be very quick to drop out and often only arrive at the last minute, so making the user journey very simple is the goal.
“You need to make sure your content is really punchy to keep the audience engaged. Also, trying to replicate a live event in terms of the areas people would explore doesn’t work.
“We’ve also found client management is ten times harder because their expectations from a virtual event vary so much. They need more guidance and training and that’s another reason why we like myOnvent because it is such an easy platform for them to navigate.”
myOnvent customer success manager Julija Jukneviciute said: “Having a client with high standards, like the NSMG is challenging, which is great for us. They have had lots of input on new features myOnvent should deploy, so working closely together helped us to offer more functionalities for all Organizers, such as – meeting booking, enhanced event statistics, detailed reports, branding, customisation opportunities and more.
“While setting up their first events, NS Media requested some assistance from myOnvent event managers, but we’ve found after a while NSMG have become masters of the organiser dashboard and were able to manage events without much involvement from us, starting with the page and registration set-up, live streaming and following up with the attendees after the event. We’ve been thrilled to work with the NSMG, and are proud of the success they’ve seen using myOnvent.”
*This article was published in association with myOnvent, one of Press Gazette’s trusted commercial partners. To find out more about how to run successful virtual and hybrid events, download their 12-page briefing: Hybrid Events: Bridging the (Virtual) Gap.