Few years ago (in the pre-COVID era), a client based out of Bombay wanted to do a Press Conference in Chennai. It was an important announcement, and needless to say, they expected excellent media attendance, both in terms of quality and quantity. The Corporate Communications Head’s ‘simple’ brief was –
Do whatever it takes and bill it on us…but get the media.
From their end, they did an excellent job on the arrangements front to ensure comfort of the attendee media. They even arranged for very attractive media giveaways, which were very different from the usual giveaways. Even though the venue was a centrally located one, they asked us to arrange for cabs (on an individual basis) for any media (big or small) who requested for it, and reassured us (on e-mail too) that the costs will be billable to and cleared by them. In a nutshell, they ensured that the PR firm had no reason to come up with any excuse. And as per their expectations, media confirmations looked good and we were looking forward to a great Press Conference. But as luck would have it, the Rain God for whatsoever reasons decided to go on a merciless spree right from the morning on the Press Conference day, and showed no signs of receding. The rains were heavy, and a lot of mediapersons who had confirmed their attendance informed that they wouldn’t want to risk it on such a day. Many of them requested for some good pictures to be sent along with the Press Release, and assured decent coverage. But the Corporate Communications Head would have none of it…his urge to impress his bosses was higher than the Rain God’s fury on that day. So as part of our job, we implored mediapersons to somehow show up. Few of them sternly refused, while the others decided to ‘do us a favour’ by attending. And despite arranging for individual cabs to all the mediapersons who were attending, a lot of them came in drenched…some partly and a few fully. Even we, the consultancy representatives, got partially drenched. But given the circumstances, the attendance was decent…and the client too expressed satisfaction and appreciation.
Cut to 2021…another client, another Press Conference for an equally important announcement. No rains, but the COVID-19 scare looming all around. So this time it was a Virtual Press Conference. Here too the attendance was good, with every decent media attending. And the client was very happy.
The larger question here is – why didn’t we even think of virtual interactions / meets a few years ago? It was a possibility for sure. We could atleast have looked at the virtual medium(s) on adverse (rainy, unwell etc.) days if not on normal days. Why did we have to wait for the ‘new normal’ to make these virtual meets an important ingredient of Corporate life?
The year 2020 took off with an extraordinary pandemic which brought about several changes to our work culture, including the way events and meets are conducted. The lockdown that followed provided the whole world the time and opportunity to move to virtual events and meets in place of physical ones.
While several individuals still have doubts and reservations about holding online meets, there are incredible benefits that many don’t realise initially. Thanks to the technological advancements over the past few years, virtual meets can now be organised a lot more efficiently than physical ones.
A virtual meet also removes the need to travel to be at the physical venue. It saves a lot of time for the participants and everyone involved. These meets also make it possible for relevant spokespersons from any part of the world to participate without any geographical limitations.
Also with a virtual meet, one can significantly cut down on costs. Expenses (venue hires, food, travel, giveaways, accommodation for spokespersons etc.) incurred towards organising a physical meet are generally very high. Hence the convenience that is derived out of doing a virtual event along with the cost savings makes it a viable option.
It’s definitely time to look at a major (even if not complete) shift in the way we conduct our meetings and conferences.
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