How Associations Have Adapted Annual Meetings During the Pandemic

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Rachel Bowen

Senior Account Supervisor

Rachel Bowen is a skilled communications professional specializing in healthcare communications for associations and corporations. She provides strategic counsel to help healthcare clients elevate their brand and amplify key messages and specializes in understanding the communications landscape surrounding the healthcare arena and executing integrated communications programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted the ways that we work, gather and connect. For associations, this means that their annual meetings are looking drastically different as we switch from in-person events to virtual models. Though taking your meeting virtually presents a unique challenge, it also opens up new opportunities to connect with your attendees in meaningful ways, maximize your exposure and engage reporters.

We’ve been working with a number of our clients to adapt to a virtual format, and have outlined a few key tips for being successful when moving an organization’s meetings from the conference hall to the computer screen.

Virtual Press Conferences and Newsrooms

The usual press conference may be a no-go this year, but don’t miss out on the necessary time with reporters that helps you promote your latest news, year-end announcements and other important information. By creating a virtual newsroom, you can ensure that you can still reach the media with ease.

Similarly, virtual newsrooms can allow you to quickly and efficiently distribute information from the conference or relating to the conference to give reporters and attendees easy access to the information they’re looking for.

Social Media and Networking Opportunities

Launch at-home based challenges and activities to get your attendees engaged and immersed in the experience from afar. Promote hashtags and encourage attendees to include them when sharing content about the meeting on Twitter and Instagram to get visibility and measure engagement. Hashtags are an effective way to keep attendees informed of important announcements and encourage conversation and learning amongst the profession. Ensure that you have a posting schedule and are interacting live with your attendees and press in a meaningful way. Set up forums and virtual rooms where attendees can network and get to know one another.

If you have a big announcement or an advocacy effort to promote, consider creating toolkits with sample posts and graphics that attendees can use to help your organization spread awareness on a larger scale.

Incorporate Video

Creating and distributing video throughout the conference – highlights from individual sessions, informational videos, news videos or messages from the President/CEO – will help keep attendees informed on the latest news, sessions they might have missed and relevant information. Video is also an effective way to showcase new and diverse voices who have a variety of perspectives to share on their experience in the profession. Sharing the visual stories of others who may not be the usual spokespeople for your organization can help build community within your membership and expand awareness of what the profession looks like amongst consumers.

Pulling the Branding Together

When developing materials for the meeting, be consistent in your branding. Make sure everything that you put out on social media, through emails, on your website and in your virtual platform carries your branding. Backgrounds for sessions, video messages and the exhibitor newsrooms should all reflect the conference website and association branding. This helps pull the conference together and reinforce your brand at every turn.

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Want to learn more about how to maximize communications during your virtual or hybrid annual meeting? Email us at lets_talk@pcipr.com!

Post by Rachel Bowen