We won’t bore you with the “unprecedented times” comments because we’ve all lived through the past two years and understand the circumstances – but what do those mean for live, in-person automotive and mobility events as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drag on?
While almost all events are beginning to resume a “normal,” in-person format, there are certain considerations to keep in mind, including extra precautions that may still be in place. One of the automotive industry’s notable events, the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars, is taking place in-person as it has for many years prior. But with COVID-19 cases rising again and OEMs implementing mask policies, Just Auto points out what may look different than pre-pandemic.
Make the Most of Your Owned Event
As event planners, we’re encouraging our automotive and mobility clients to consider having an outdoor element to their event now that the weather is nicer. It can raise comfortability levels, hopefully resulting in additional attendance.
Content of the event will also help draw in potential guests who are on the fence – think about their experience, from the time they walk in the doors. It should be more than sponsor booths and presentations. Consider the in-between connections and provide a tangible, experiential moment via interactive displays, dedicated networking spaces and more.
As always, follow your state and CDC COVID-19 guidelines and provide masks for guests who would like one.
Maximize Paid Events Through Shared, Earned and Owned Channels
Automotive communicators seeking opportunities for their company to sponsor, attend or speak at events are also facing new considerations. With few exceptions, earned or free opportunities to share thought leadership at the top automotive conferences are reserved for OEM executives. For suppliers, this means speaking opportunities like panels and technical presentations are often secured through event sponsorships and paid opportunities.
These sponsor packages often include speaking opportunities for executives, as well as additional benefits in the form of exhibit space, event passes, signage or promotion through the event’s digital channels. As with any sponsorship, it’s important for automotive communicators to maximize these benefits by using their own integrated channels to promote their involvement.
To maximize your presence and leverage speaking opportunities to reach larger communications goals, there are a few things you can do as a communicator:
- Ensure event organizers have the information they need.
Submit company descriptions, links, images and speaker headshots as soon as the sponsorship is secured. This allows organizers to start promoting your presence, messaging and speakers ahead of events when your audience is exploring and registering for the event.
- Don’t forget owned and shared channels.
Event promotions are great to raise awareness of a speaking opportunity, but your communications strategy shouldn’t end there. Leveraging owned and shared channels to promote your involvement, tag other speakers and event hashtags and tie it all together with a strong creative theme to maximize your presence both inside and outside of the event.
- Leverage paid speaking engagements for earned opportunities.
Event organizers will often share a list of registered journalists with speakers and sponsors, which offers another opportunity for integrated communications surrounding the event. Providing a one-on-one opportunity for reporters to expand on your speaking topic and showcase technology at your booth allows you to continue sharing your message and expertise in media coverage following the event.
Whether you’re planning your own event or working to position your company in a third-party conference, the automotive event landscape is shifting. But that doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of your objectives. Through an integrated approach to event planning and participation, events provide an opportunity to leverage each piece of the PESO model to share your message, ultimately driving results and reaching an audience of interested attendees.
With roots deep in the automotive industry, stay connected with our Thoughts from the 313 newsletter or connect directly with our team.
Rachel Burnard is Integrated Communications Supervisor and Dan Horn is Integrated Communications Director at Franco. Connect with Rachel and Dan on LinkedIn.