By Michael Kithcart
Events have become a mainstay in our lives as a way to celebrate, unite, and be entertained. Live events and sponsoring these events, have been steadily on the rise over the past decade. However, the current crisis has caused us to support our events, causes and community in drastically differently ways – including finding different ways to unite and connect while being in separate spaces.
While we are all going through similar scenarios, we especially want to wrap our arms around the people who produce, market, sell, and execute events. People who work in the event industry, from cultural arts to state fairs and park districts, are naturally drawn to live experiences. They have chosen a profession built around bringing people together. They thrive on the energy that is created by the collective gathering. And now we are not gathering at all. This has been disappointing to the audiences, participants and sponsors that attend their favorite events, and particularly devastating to those who make the experiences possible.
Seasons and annual events have been canceled. Others are operating under best-case and worst-case scenarios while waiting to decide whether to reschedule or cancel. We recently learned that there is likely to be a $9 billion loss in the event industry. In addition to the drastic economic impacts, we are seeing the severe effects of the social and mental health in the events community – from attendees, producers, and supporters. The industry as a whole is perhaps the most extraverted collective around and therefore may also be suffering from, what we are calling, Event Anxiety Separation Experience (E.A.S.E.) – a strain on physical and mental conditions as a result of sudden or anticipated isolation and limited outlets to perform and assemble.
Here are some way to cope with E.A.S.E.
Engage with Your Audience:
- Run a photo contest on social channels by having fans send in their favorite photos from your event in prior years. Give away tickets for next year or later this year if applicable.
- Re-release prior year sizzle reels with a message at the beginning and end about looking forward to getting together again soon.
- Release a sizzle reel of the top moments in the last few years to remind fans how much they love your event/team/organization.
Engage with Your Event:
- If you can, go take a site walk, individually or as a team, with proper social distancing. Take notes on what you’d do differently, change, or ideas that come to you.
- If you can’t do a site walk, lead a visualization exercise with the team on a Zoom call to accomplish the same thing. Engage the whole team so they can bring in their perspectives and ideas. This works for an annual fundraiser, temporary sites, as well as permanent sites.
- Check in with individuals more frequently. Ask how they are doing and what they’re struggling with. Reassure, help them move forward, address their concerns.
Engage with Your Self:
- Rest – you’ve no doubt been running on empty for years and you worked double time to make decisions on this year’s events. Hard decisions have already been made and more will come. Rejuvenate now while you can. There will be plenty to do and rebuild soon enough. Naps are allowed and encouraged when anyone is feeling weary.
- Dwell in possibility – give some space and time to daydream, play out different ways you can reimagine your event for the future. There is an opportunity in this phase to examine all aspects of an event, how audiences interact with it, how people give, what sponsors are going to need in the future. The pandemic has taught us we are experiencing something we’ve never experienced before. What if that approach (not outcome) was applied to your event.
- Acknowledge the fluctuation of being productive, exhausted, lost and inspired. This might happen over the course of a week, a day or even an hour. Realize there are a lot of other external and internal elements that are factoring into the ability to focus and have energy. Notice where you are and how long you’re staying in any one mode. If it’s for longer than a day or two, be deliberate in changing one or two things to balance out the ebbs and flows.
About the author: Michael Kithcart is a Strategy Consultant at Caravel Marketing. Throughout her career, Michael has transformed organizations, created divisions, organized startups and enhanced the effectiveness of individuals and teams. She is a leader in working with organizations to develop strategic initiatives that meet and exceed sponsorship sales goals.
About Caravel Marketing Caravel Marketing specializes in revenue development and partnership marketing. Caravel develops and implements strategic plans to increase revenue and accelerate performance; we guide the entire process from beginning to end, connecting events and properties with brands to create meaningful partnerships.