Events

Going Virtual: How to Take Any School Event Online

March 22, 2020

Amidst the current COVID-19 outbreak, many schools and businesses are turning to online events as a way to connect with their communities, while safely adhering to social distancing. With an abundance of free programs available online, running a virtual event has never been easier. But, we get it, your first virtual event can be a little intimidating. You’ve never run one before and you have no idea what to expect. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or a little stuck, here’s a quick guide to get you started. 

 

Choose your virtual event

Schools and virtual events don’t immediately come to mind as the ideal pair, however, there are many school-related events that can be run just as effectively online as they are in person. It’s important that you aren’t disregarding school event’s all together and instead, are looking at alternative ways to run the event’s online. An example of some virtual events you might like to run include:

  • Open days
  • Seminars
  • Staff professional development 
  • Parent-teacher conferences

Your school’s open day is an event that heavily relies on face-to-face interactions in order to nurture relationships with prospective families. Some of the key reasons why many in-person open days succeed is because they provide a chance for prospective families to; interact with staff and teachers, ask current students about their experiences, and experience the campus first-hand. These experiences can be hard to replicate online, but not impossible! With a little creativity (and a lot of enthusiasm), creating an engaging online experience can be achieved through an immersive virtual tour that families can easily access on any digital device.

 

A step-by-step guide to creating this experience:

  1. Organize a time to create a virtual tour video with a staff member who's confident being on camera
  2. Create a script that's targeted at prospective families and feels as though they're being spoken to directly
  3.  Choose which areas of your school campus you're going to showcase 
  4. Include footage that provides an audience point of view, so it feels as though they're experiencing the campus through their own eyes
  5. Edit your video and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo so that it can be viewed and shared with prospective families.  

 

Set your objectives

Just like any in-person event, it’s essential that your virtual event provides ROI your school, so it’s time to set some key objectives. We recommended choosing three to four objectives, ensuring they’re specific, measurable and attainable – here are a few examples:

  • Reach 100 views on your video
  • Increase Youtube subscribers by 10% 
  • Capture 15 new leads from the virtual open day

 

If you ask us, it’s always a good idea to elect an event coordinator or small team to organize, manage and run all elements of the virtual event. This will help ensure that all event objectives, communication and goals are aligned.

 

Choose a host website 

There are several different website’s that can be used to host online events, but it’s no secret that Zoom and Youtube Live are amongst the most popular. Zoom is an easy-to-use, remote conferencing service that allows users to host video webinars, online conferences and meetings. Youtube Live, on the other hand, offers a similar service where you can live stream videos through one, simple Youtube link. Both services offer question and answer sections to help you engage with your audience throughout the virtual event. 

 

Create a communication schedule 

Virtual events require marketing and targeted communication to encourage attendance and increase brand awareness. Here at Digistorm we are big advocate’s for inbound marketing. The aim of inbound marketing is to attract, engage and delight your audience through mainly digital techniques. We suggest using blog posts, social media, and email as inbound marketing tactics for your online event. 

If your event is geared toward capturing a wide-range of prospective parents, you should promote it across your social media channels before, during and after the event. If you want the event to be invite-only, you can use email to invite and promote the event to a specific, targeted list of contacts. Email should be leveraged to nurture your target audience throughout the entire process. 

 

Pre-event communication 

You should start promoting your event at least two weeks prior to the day to ensure that attendees can put aside enough time in their schedule to virtually attend. The first communication should include key details such as; date, time and a link to an online registration form. If your registration numbers are looking a little low, don't hesitate to re-send the first communication email a week before the event as a reminder! 

 

Day-of communications

On the day of your virtual event, send an email to all of your registered contacts at least two hours before the event is set to start. In this email, be sure to include instructions on how to access the video and your host website. Once your virtual event is over, you should have a wrap-up email prepared to send three to four hours after the event (while it’s still fresh in your attendee’s minds). This email should include a URL link to the recording, a call to action and any downloadable links that you may have mentioned during the virtual event. Don’t forget that you’ll need to be prepared to respond to emails with questions relating to the online event in the weeks following. 

 

Get creative with your video production

When you eliminate the in-person experience of an event, there’s a chance that you might see a drop in engagement among attendees – so what can you do to fix that? Anybody can record a video and post it online, but it’s creativity that will set you apart. A combination of an aesthetic background, informative presentation slides, a range of different speakers and on-brand graphics are all elements you could include to enhance your virtual event. If you’re planning on inviting guest speakers or presenters to participate in your virtual event, be sure to carry out at least one to two full practices before the day.

It can be extremely nerve-racking to present in front of an online audience, so it’s important that your presenters feel comfortable and prepared.  It may also be worth investing in new camera and recording equipment to help enhance your video production level. If you need some advice on what you need to get started, take a look at our interview with our expert Content Creator, Isaac.

 

If you are seeking additional support for your school during these trying times, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly Digistorm team or take a look at our recent blog: how your school can communicate with parents during a crisis.