In-person, virtual or hybrid? When it comes to event planning and coverage, PR professionals (rightfully) have questions.
Hosting events in a world affected by COVID-19 required major adjusting. Even with restrictions lifted, a responsive and flexible strategy is still the best approach. However, we know most journalists are looking to re-connect via in-person events in 2022. How can PR pros take advantage of this opportunity?
To better understand the events journalists are prioritizing, Muck Rack asked 1,000 journalists about their event coverage plans. The survey found that 53% of journalists plan to cover more in-person events in 2022, but a few groups plan to cover more than others.
Journalists covering sports (56%), fashion and beauty (55%) and politics, government and legal (54%) have the most plans for attending in-person events. Journalists covering automotive, technology and telecommunications had the highest percentage of journalists that said they would attend fewer events – each at 19%.
The survey also highlighted the top 10 events journalists plan to attend this year, including UN Climate Change Conference (COP26); World Economic Forum; World Conference on Climate Change and Sustainability; TED; Comic-Con; SXSW; Government Social Media Conference; E3; Future of Finance; and TechCrunch Disrupt.
About half of journalists said that an event going virtual does not affect their likelihood of covering it, indicating that the relevancy and quality of the event are the main factors in their decision to attend. Video conferencing is here to stay, with 62% of journalists preferring Zoom as a platform for virtual events.
Some industries fare better in virtual environments than others. Energy and environment, entertainment, health and wellness, science, and technology and telecommunications each had the highest percentage of journalists that said they were more likely to cover a virtual event (all 38%). Sports (26%) and food and dining (27%) are less likely to cover a virtual event.
Regardless of industry, community relations and event promotion should still include COVID considerations. When planning events with clients or inviting media, think through:
- What industry and area the event serves. This may determine the best format for hosting the event.
- Any lingering COVID restrictions on attendance, masks, vaccination status, etc., which can vary by location and venue, that must be communicated externally.
- RSVP tracking platforms to remain mindful of caps and any needed contact tracing should a major exposure occur.
- If a crisis holding statement should be prepared.
- Providing spare masks and hand sanitizer, if in-person.
- Back-up plans for primary spokespeople, should someone become sick.
- Extra safety accommodations that can be put in place if a journalist requests them (e.g., joining virtually in a hybrid event setting).
- Ways to highlight ongoing commitments to safety, sanitization, etc. in key messaging.
PR pros have a responsibility to journalists to help plan and execute a safe event. Moving forward, PR professionals should be wise to how events have evolved – and how journalists across industries prefer to cover them – so they can best advise their clients during less unprecedented circumstances.