Remember live events? Like, full-capacity, shoulder-to-shoulder, seats-in-a-row events?
So can we…and we can’t wait to be in that crowd again.
Together, we are headed back to that reality, but know this fall may be too soon to safely gather at full capacity. There will certainly be varying degrees of comfort for attending live events. In addition, over the last year, we’ve learned how to engage non-traditional students and others through online programming that hasn’t previously been done. We’ll just call that a COVID silver lining.
So here we are – at least one more fall where we’ll get to dig in, be creative and reimagine events – this time with a little more experience.
Fall 2021: enter the hybrid event.
Hybrid events can work well for your campus, engage your students in new ways, increase attendance and maybe save you a little money along the way! There are plenty of ways to accomplish this – let’s look a little more seriously at three options:
Who doesn’t love a good Zoom, amirite?
HAHA – teasing…
BUT – depending on artist abilities and/or technology availability on your campus, streaming the live show to your students via an Instagram Live or Facebook Live can be a great way to engage those who aren’t ready to come to the live show yet. You can update your back drop, maybe the lighting to make it special and even start a series that can gain traction on campus quickly! Can you work with housing to coordinate viewing parties for smaller, more socially distanced groups?
Speaking of working with other groups, this is a prime opportunity to involve clubs like theater, AV, etc. for assistance with a great byproduct of gaining more exposure for the events you’re bringing to campus and increase your audience.
The virtual audience will be at a slight disadvantage as the performer’s primary focus is engaging the live audience. Fix this by having the performer jump on the live broadcast right after the show for a quick 10-15 minute VIP “ask me anything” or virtual meet and greet with that audience! It’s an easy way to engage the online audience and give them a special experience and it only delays the main meet and greet you may want by 10-15 minutes!
Incorporate Virtual into your Live Events
If you are able to have larger events on campus this fall, you can take some lessons from the last year on what has worked, save some budget on the performer’s travel and incorporate a virtual entertainer at a station during your live event.
This has been done with eSports for some time – those tournaments are an easy way to engage players in person for a virtual experience.
Here are a couple of additional ideas:
Set up a mystical looking fortune-teller’s tent. The students can wait in a socially distanced line outside and when they step inside, there is a chair for them to sit in across from a large screen to interact virtually with a tarot card reader! It’s still a private, custom reading, but you save money on travel and can usually get someone for about $1000 for a 4-hour event!
Ditch the tent and get a large screen (or even better, an inflatable screen that could be used later for a movie night) for viewing and hire a virtual caricature artist. Your students can sit in front of the zoom screen and interact with the artist while they are drawn. It’s also really fun for the audience to watch them draw, especially with the computer technology that allows them to add layers.
The artist will upload the image to a dropbox or something similar and your students can download it and get it posted to social media immediately (like they’d do if it was a live event!) Again, pricing is only $1000 for 4 hours, so it’s easier on the budget too!
If you still want your caricature artist in person, the digital option is now available from most artists. You’ll want to double check their technical requirements as many will not be able to travel with the full set up.
Every campus is different and technical capabilities are also very different from place to place. You may not have the capacity or ability to stream the live performer while on site. Or your virtual audience may not enjoy watching a show that is meant for a different (live) audience.
If either of these are your reality, it’s a great idea to ask the performer to do both – a live show AND a virtual show! Usually, this will add an additional fee for the virtual component, but can also extend the range of the event to a much wider audience. Depending on budgets, this can look different for each situation:
- The performer could do another virtual live event that all of your students tune into from their home studio on a different date from the live performance.
- They could also record something on site so they are on your stage with your familiar backdrop to make the audience feel more connected to the live events on campus.
- If budgets are really tight, you can request a pre-recorded file to send out to your students and the artist keeps it up for a couple of weeks so there is a time limit on viewing.
Hybrid Events may not be ideal, but it’s a fun way to think about getting creative with our current circumstances and keeping the momentum with those new audience members you’ve gained over the last year.
These ideas are the tip of the iceberg and meant to get your creative ideas flowing. You know what works best on your campus and for your students – lean into that!
If you want to hear more about best practices, we would love to brainstorm and collaborate with you to share what our other clients are doing successfully! Drop us a line or give us a call – we’d love to put our heads together on more ideas!