Friday, July 16, 2010

“Continuing the Conversation” a Hybrid Events Hit at TS² Tradeshow!

As you may know I have published several articles discussing Hybrid events.  For those of you new to the conversation a hybrid event is one in which virtual, or remote attendees interact with face to face attendees, utilizing some form of social technology.

Most often, in the hybrid meeting scenario, remote attendees watch a live video webcast of a keynote address, or an education session, in some sort of convention, or conference setting.  To further engage the audience event organizers usually provide a back channel for conversation, in an application such as Twitter.  Over the past 18 months or so, many organizations have been introducing hybrid elements into their meetings and conferences.

A New Breed of Hybrid Events

I’m one of those guys that gets really “amped” when I encounter something new, and innovative.  This week, thanks to a company called The Expo Group (TEG) I had the distinct pleasure of attending a new breed of Hybrid Events, at the TS² Show (Total Solutions Marketing), in Boston, MA.  What distinguished this one from others, , was it’s location in the middle of a trade-show environment, in an exhibit booth, rather than a meeting room.  How cool is that?

Tagged as the “InZone Lounge and Networking Center” this area was designed, by TEG, to create a fun, innovative space on the show floor where all TS² on-site and virtual attendees could gather and interact with exhibitors, sponsors, speakers and press.  Their featured event, called  “Continuing the Conversation” was a series of 15 minute “talk show” style interviews with Social Media Thought Leaders, over a two-day period. (July 14 & 15)

A Hybrid Home Run!

I watched all but one of the interview segments on Wednesday, July 14.  Unfortunately I was not able to participate on Thursday, due to other business commitments.  In my opinion TEG hit a trade-show “home-run” with this event.  It was flawlessly executed.  I believe the following contributed to their success:

Great Vendor Partners — At every level the quality of this event was first class.  As an attendee, I enjoyed every moment of this experience.  TEG clearly selected the right vendors for the job.

Interviews were sharp, crisp, energetic, engaging and personable — Emilie Barta, as the event host/anchor, was outstanding.  If you have not met this gifted events business professional, or seen her work, you need to!

Emilie is one of those people (unlike me) that makes the camera look good.  Her video presence lights up a room, and she knows just how to capture and keep a viewer’s attention, whether virtual or face2face..  Equally important, Emilie also makes interviewees feel at ease.  Thus the total experience flows smoothly.

Great Webcast Platform — Over the past year I have often been frustrated with certain aspects of many other webcasts I’ve seen.  Digitell, the webcast provider for this event, really has one of the best webcast platforms I’ve seen.  The video window is fully functional, and I especially liked the chat portal.

Since No slide decks were utilized I can not vouch for that piece, but I am guessing Digitell does a nice job with that component, when needed, as well.  My only criticism was that, in the Twitter window, I was not able to post tweets.  I still had to access an outside Twitter client to do that.

Great audio/video quality and coverage — pretty much “high definition” quality audio/video for these webcast events made them a pleasure to watch/hear.  The Camera technician was “on the spot” with following the coverage of the interviews, including audience participation.

For more information regarding the content presented at the “Continuing the Conversation” event I would recommend reading Midori Connolly’s blog post.  Midori, the owner and chief AV girl, for Pulse Staging & Events, was one of the thought leaders interviewed by Emilie at the “InZone.”

Question:  What types of Hybrid events are you coming across in your event travels?  What do you believe works well?  What do you think of the scenario recapped in this article?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Joyce McKee July 16, 2010 at 10:33 am

Mike – Emilie did a fantastic job of interviewing me!! It was easy and comfortable. Then I heard from several folks about how the viewing of these interviews was GREAT!! Easy to log in and view what was going on – so congratulations to Digitell for their efforts. One person got so excited about what see what they were viewing, she called others from her company to come into her office and “join the conversation”. Finally – thanks to the fabulous Dana Doody for pulling this off with grandeur and style.

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Michael M McCurry CMP July 16, 2010 at 11:10 am

Hi Joyce,

Emilie is really quite good at what she does. I am glad to hear that you had such a positive experience. I did as well.

Digitell’s platform is one of the best I have seen for sure and yes many thanks to Dana Doody for an innovative application of the Hybrid model.

Thanks for contributing to the conversation.

Mike

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Brent Skinner July 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Mike, full disclosure — TS2 is a client of ours (@RSpartners). Back in January, TS2 turned to us to assist in developing and implementing a social media plan and strategy for TS2 2010. We’re proud to have been a part of this effort, but the lion’s share of credit rests with TS2’s management, really: They just ran with our ideas in ways that other clients might not have. From the beginning, we advised TS2 that a program ultimately combining the offline and the online in real time, at the event itself, would yield the greatest buzz and best attendee/exhibitor experience — especially if the underpinnings for a robust social media community were firmly in place well in advance of the show. We helped a great deal with the latter, encouraging the smart use of hashtags, LinkedIn groups, and even PRSEO to brand the show, ensure post-event buzz, and more. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the results.

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Brent Skinner July 17, 2010 at 9:39 am

Hi, Mike — just wanted to clarify something, as my original comment might have introduced confusion. Our firm did advise TS2 to consider combining the online and the offline for the live event, but it was just one of many concepts we discussed; we had no hand in introducing TS2 to The Expo Group et al., specifically. Dana Doody and her team deserve all the credit for making the InZone happen at TS2.

There was an incredible level of buzz around the InZone, an “event within the event” that your article does a fine job of describing. The InZone was, simply, awesome. Frankly, we’re elated that Dana Doody reached out to TS2 with the prospect of including the InZone on the show floor. This ratcheted up the excitement level exponentially, and we’re just fortunate to have been able to help TS2 establish and fortify the underpinnings of its social media presence well in advance of the show; that foundation facilitated that much more buzz around the InZone, learning sessions, evening festivities, and everything else associated with the show.

I encourage anyone reading this to go to TS2’s LinkedIn group, “TS2 Total Solutions Marketing Participants,” join (if they haven’t already), and contribute their thoughts to a teeming post-event conversation about everything that went so well at TS2.

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Michael M McCurry CMP July 17, 2010 at 10:44 am

Hi Brent,

Thanks for your second comment as it did straighten out some confusion.

As you correctly pointed out Dana and the Expo Group did a fabulous job of introducing a creative way for people to leverage hybrid event components to add value to the attendee experience.

I was very impressed with the InZone concept and loved the “talk show” style approach to the interviewing of the thought leaders.

Thanks for adding to the conversation.

Mike

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James Parker July 19, 2010 at 10:03 am

Mike
Thank you for your comments. I am thrilled that you enjoyed the TS2 event. It was certainly exciting to see it all come together.
I agree with you regarding the ability to add tweets through our system. We will definitely be adding that in along with some other very exciting features and data. Our goal is to create a platform that allows for all of the data that is utilized during the event to be captured and reported, further adding to the value of the event.
I am in the process of developing a new system for running an event that will include a “Collective Knowledge” approach. In this system, virtual attendees will be asked to participate by providing data and resources that will ultimately build a wiki style resource of everything that is known on a specific topic from all of the attendees virtually. After the event, all live participants will be able to access these resources in ProLibraries.com and add their own resources.
The speaker will become a facilitator, more along the lines of what Emilie did at TS2, where they will extract this data and resources from the virtual participants. Because virtual attendees can all type at the same time, virtual components add to a meeting options that can not be done in a live meeting. Imagine 100 people introducing themselves live and the 1 hour session is over. In a virtual environment, all 100 participants can type at the same time and the amount of data/resources that can be collected increases exponentially.
I will keep you updated as to the progress we make this fall.
Thanks again.
Jim

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Michael M McCurry CMP July 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hi James,

It sounds like you have some exciting things coming with your webcast platform. I look forward to seeing them.

Your “collective knowledge” approach sounds very intriguing. I look forward to seeing more information on this wiki-style collaboration system.

Thanks for contributing to the conversation!

Mike

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Roger Wilson August 5, 2010 at 11:01 am

Hi Mike. I’d recommend broadening your definition of a hybrid event beyond the situation where remote attendees interact with face to face attendees. “Hybrid” means, in this context, something having two kinds of components that produce the same or similar results. My firm has had success with hybrid presentations to live audiences. I see significant potential for linking real simultaneous events in multiple locations using hybrid content. The hardest part of a live event to simulate or convey “virtually” is personal, face-to-face interaction. Rather than bringing an event to people’s desktop if we bring an event to their city we very significantly lower the attendee cost without losing real face-t0-face opportunities for both buyer and seller.

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Michael M McCurry CMP August 6, 2010 at 10:35 am

Hi Roger,

Thanks very much for responding with your comments.

You lost me with your alternate context. It sounds like what you are referring to is “pod” locations aligned with a live webcast, but I’m not sure.

I would appreciate it if you would elaborate, for our readers on what you are trying to say, cuz honestly you confused me.

Thanks,

Mike

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pomondring December 20, 2010 at 7:15 am

“I am thrilled that you enjoyed the TS2 event. It was certainly exciting to see it all come together.”
Something I doubt …

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Saul Farber May 16, 2011 at 10:55 am

Hello Mike! I was referred to your blog by someone close to me and look forward to reading your posts. Looking forward to it!

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Michael M McCurry CMP May 17, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Hey Saul, how are you?

Are you related to Steve Farber, just curious.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mike

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Saul Farber May 17, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Yessirree.
That’s my Pops!

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