Virtual ALPHAPLAN open house exhibition 2020
Using the opportunities of digitalisation
The ALPHAPLAN in-house exhibition has a long tradition. It has been held every two years at our Starnberger branch in conjunction with our “Open House Day”. It was meant to be held again in 2020, but fate took a different turn.
The sudden switch to working almost exclusively from home, was a successful endurance test. The tool used for internal and external communication was MS Teams (part of Microsoft 365), which put us on track to organise an online event instead of an on-site event. Our marketing director, Michael Krutzke (MK), spoke with the livestream producer Milena Kowski (MKO).
MK: One finds tons of information online about such topics, but it is an entirely different thing to be actually faced with the planning, organisation and coordination of an event like this. In fact producing such a project is a league of its own. What are the key issues?
MKO: Whoever plans an event like this should ask themselves the following questions:
- What are the goals?
- Are there people in the company who have experience organizing events like this?
- Do I want to allow comments and answer them?
- How many people should I aim to reach?
- How much post-production am I willing and able to do?
- Can I do the post-production myself or do I need to hire someone?
- And of course, how big is my budget?
- Do I need a moderator?
- Create a back-up plan: What happens if speaker X cancels, or if Person X from the technical or directing team gets sick etc.
MK: In our case we also had to include external speakers, what are the key issues involved here, what do we need to pay attention to?
It is incredibly important to ask: Do we already have experience in that? Does anybody need to be trained? Aside from that, the same applies to the organiser, if on a somewhat smaller scale:
- What does the internal structure look like? (Hardware, internet connection, personnel etc.)
- Create a flowchart: Who is in charge of giving instructions and who is in charge of implementing them?
- What does your schedule look like?
- Plan in breaks.
Also important: The differences to an on-site event are enormous. Whoever isn’t familiar with that should do a great deal of research and ask their colleagues about their experience with on-site events. Quite often somebody knows somebody who, for example, has their own YouTube channel and can provide useful tips.
MK: One finds a lot of livestreams on YouTube that are immediately available as a recording after the stream. Why was that different with us?
MKO: Well, even platforms like YouTube don’t upload the streams immediately and automatically. This always must be done manually. The recording is, however, already available in your library. We used teams for our livestream and recorded it that way. I split the recording up by topic into individual sections, edited in our corporate design accordingly, and put it online. We didn’t use YouTube because our viewers had to be able to comment and react to it even without a Google Account. Not everybody has one, nor does everybody want one. Using Teams meant that there were no technical surprises waiting for us. We have experience in integrating external participants and switching back and forth between them. So, we were working in familiar territory.
MK: This virtual in-house exhibition was a premiere. Will there be other events like this?
MKO: Of course! Not always to this extent, but as an additional communication option for customers and interested parties. This format has gained wide acceptance due to the Corona Virus Crisis, as it was the only way many things could keep going. In digital marketing we’re not just making the best of a bad situation but accelerating something that was planned anyway. We’re creating an additional channel of communication. Marketing is increasingly using digital technology, and the more members of my generation enter decision-making positions, the more this trend will accelerate. This is what we in digital marketing are busily preparing for.