Live to Virtual Events: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Times have changed. As companies start distancing themselves from live events, virtual is reality. Switching from high touch to high tech can be challenging, but just because the format has changed, doesn’t mean the process has to. The best way to create a dynamic and engaging virtual event is to approach it like a live event!

That means strategy, creativity and execution are still critical. And so is how we apply them across traditional event logistics – such as attendee and speaker management, audience engagement, event content development and production.

Venue

All events need a venue. For live events BC (Before COVID), that usually meant a hotel or convention center. In the world of virtual events, your technology platform is your new “meeting space” and finding the right one is your first step. Your event needs to be more than a haphazard video call, so think about the event experience you want for the presenters and audience to find the right platform to help host your event. And to truly make your virtual venue feel like “home” you can explore designing virtual “sets” and branded backdrops for your presenters, as well as event-branded landing pages – your virtual venue “lobby.”

Agenda

Just like live events, you need to consider the audience experience and plan your agenda accordingly. Your audience is sitting in front of a computer, most likely at home, and it’s harder to hold their attention. Scheduling shorter general sessions and strategically breaking up the day (coffee/snack breaks, lunch, etc.) helps keep the audience fresh and attentive.

Audience Engagement

As with any event, you’ll still need to tell a story, create an experience, and make it memorable. The key to any successful event is an engaged audience. Most virtual platforms offer engagement tools like polling, Q&A and quiz functions, so incorporating these into your presentations can create an interactive experience for the audience. Video production elements like company logo animations, animated name/title speaker intros and traditional video productions are even more effective for virtual events, because they give the audience a visual break from the PowerPoint slides and “talking head” experiences that often dominate typical video conferences. And of course, nothing engages an audience like compelling content, so now more than ever, don’t let the technology get in the way of what you need to say.

Stay Connected

Your audience may not be able to enjoy each other’s company, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with them in a personal way. Send gift baskets and branded “swag” directly to your attendees’ homes, and in turn, have them send in personal photos and thoughts on the event content that you can integrate and display throughout the event – all great ways to unite the audience and stay connected.

Practice Makes Perfect

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Tech rehearsals, presentation rehearsals and dress rehearsals. Familiarize yourself and presenters with the virtual platform. Understand the technology and practice as if you’re live on stage – because virtually you are – and practice makes perfect.

Ask the Experts

Lastly, ask for help. You wouldn’t plan a live event without help from industry experts and you shouldn’t plan a virtual event without them either. It’s a team effort. And with over 20 years of video and live event experience, MK3 can help turn your live event into a successful virtual event, without having to reinvent the wheel.

Jerry Seinfeld may have been on to something…

In a popular episode of “Seinfeld”, Jerry once told a rental car agent: “You know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation, and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding.”

As marketers, we can relate to Jerry. We know how to make the two-minute video, but we don’t always know how to get people to watch the video…and that’s really the most important part.

We’ve been using a solution called the social teaser. This is a 15 – 30 second “trailer” of sorts, targeted to your audience on social media, that piques their interest to click and watch your full video.

We often make these social teasers in a series of three by re-purposing the best sections of the longer video. And it’s not that hard to justify reserving some budget dollars for these cut-downs, particularly if you plan for them in advance. And having three additional short videos can mean more engagement and better SEO. Here’s an example of a recent social teaser, and the full video that we teased.

The Seinfeld in you might be thinking, “That all sounds great, but does it work?” One of our healthcare clients told us that promoting teasers for a recent social media campaign greatly increased the click rate and engagement of their longer video. They also tested each teaser to determine which one drove the most clicks and engagement. Social teasers have become a standard part of video strategy on social for many of our clients.

Tips to consider: Keep it visual, because much of your social audience will be viewing with the sound off. Large animated text headlines and provocative subtitled soundbites are particularly engaging.  Have your editor or animator occasionally reduce their workspace to the size of a phone, so you can visualize what your audience will most likely see as you create the teasers.

So don’t just target your audience with video – capture and hold your audience, with a social teaser mini-campaign. Because Jerry’s right…the holding is the most important part.

4 Foolproof Steps to Borrowing Your Next Great Video Idea

Do you need some fresh ideas for your next video? Are you trying to avoid making another “talking head” video or typical typography animation?

Well here you go…

What, do you think I’m going to just give my new ideas away? Heck, no. I’m going to give you other people’s ideas!

The concept is this: look around you, find creative examples on TV, the web or anywhere else, imagine how these ideas could be tweaked and used for your project, then combine the ideas and present them as samples, so your client understands your new approach.

People have been using others for inspiration since the beginning of time. Here are 4 easy steps to borrowing ideas and creating new ones – then having them at the ready to pitch your colleagues and clients at a moment’s notice.

Step 1: Find Ideas

I used to walk around taking pictures of sunsets, people, and interesting vistas. Now, I also photograph advertisements, and I’m always on the lookout for something new. I recently snapped a photo of a Dunkin’ Donuts poster promoting their new Almond Joy drink. It’s a top-down photo of their drink (looks like hot chocolate) with a smiley face created from the bubbles in the foam. What a simple but engaging idea. I snap pictures of billboards, posters in train stations, or book covers – to hold on to ideas that could be built upon for a future project.

Step 2: Remember What You Found

I used to see commercials all the time and think “what a funny idea, I should do something like that”. Problem is I’d forget the name of the commercial or who made it. Now, I make a point to jot down the tag line and company so I can look it up later on YouTube or iSpot.tv. It’s amazing how useful that can be when you suddenly need an idea. Instead of saying, “Ever see that commercial with the hilarious lady in the glasses?”, you can show the Hunter Douglas commercial with Iris Apfel as an example of quirky humor and great set design.

Step 3: Organize the Ideas

Create a folder on your desktop, Dropbox, wherever you want, and put your favorite creative ideas there. It’s a reference guide for the new inspirations that could one day be useful for a client project.

Step 4: Pull it all Together

You never want to rip someone off. You want to combine ideas and add your own twist. And by having the ideas library at your disposal, you’ll have ready-made concepts to present to your team or your client as examples of what you can do. “Let’s make something that looks like this… with the humor of this… but with a creative call to action like this…” Ideally you combine ideas to create something new that meets the goals of the project and makes it unique.

I leave you with a quote that I found in a great book called “Steal Like an Artist”:

“The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.”

-David Bowie

Most people would agree that Bowie was one of the most unique musicians of our time. If he can steal ideas for his creative vision, we all can!

By John Lawrence, Creative Director

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Stock Footage

Stock footage.

To me, and others like me, using stock footage always felt like…cheating.

Let me explain.

If you know anything about MK3 Creative, you know that we’re a digital marketing agency that specializes in many things, but mostly video. And we do everything in-house – concept, copy, casting, production, design, animation, shooting, directing, editing…and everything in between.

All three of our Creative Directors are award-winning field directors who love to crank up casts and crews and bring our visions to life. When it comes to a live action video, our motto is “shoot first, ask questions later”…so using stock footage always felt like shooting blanks. Where’s the pride of authorship? I always considered it cheating – the easy, cheesy way out. Until it wasn’t.

Recently, a few projects came my way with tight budgets, tighter turnarounds, and aspirations to create a global look and feel – something that could only be achieved with stock, given these real-life constraints. I had to change the way I flexed my creative muscles and take pride in the stock footage I found and how I chose to use it.

All stock footage is not created equal, so to the sharp eye of a Creative Director, footage research took the place of casting and directing – with look, lens, and lighting playing just as important a role.

And using stock also enhances the design/motion graphics challenge. On-screen text call-outs and graphic framing devices become even more important as elements of visual consistency.

So the next time clients, concepts, or budgets paint you into a corner, stop worrying about library footage and take stock in it.  It’s not as bad, or as expensive, as it used to be. Embrace the power of stock footage…as long as you promise to use this power for good and not for evil.

By Jonathan Markella, Executive Creative Director

Embrace the Box

Think outside the box.
Meh.  Enough about the box already.
For years, “think outside the box” has been the measuring stick/mantra of creativity.  It’s become a catch phrase, a meme, and ultimately, meaningless.

But then again, I’ve never felt it held any meaning at all.  It’s easy to be creative with no real world boundaries.  It’s harder to light the idea bulb in the pitch black that only a box can create.  Close that cardboard up with industrial strength packing tape and Houdini your way around in there.  That’s creativity.

And by the way, there’s always a box.  Budgets, print ad space, commercial running time, and corporate brand standards – they all box you in, or out.  Only the Rolling Stones always get what they want.  The rest of us need to work with “what we got.”

So, don’t try to excite or impress me when you offer, dare, or demand that we “think outside the box.”  Show me someone who can hop in the box and stick his or her creative elbows out – that impresses me.

Bring us your boxes, large and small.  You’ll be amazed at what we can do with a little corrugated cardboard.

By Jonathan Markella, Executive Creative Director