S2:E5 Hybrid Events: How marketers can pull off awesome events in 2021 - Interview with Adam Waller

Hi folks, welcome back to the Marketing Mindset Club and we have a very exciting episode for you today. This is the first guest episode that we’ve had on the show, and I’m very excited to introduce you to our guest today.

But just to give you a bit of context of where we're starting. When the pandemic hit, obviously, in-person events just completely went out the window - fell like dominoes one after another. And we marketers and business development managers were left in a world of virtual meetings, and even more screen time than usual trying to stay in touch with our families and trying to conduct our day-to-day business as if, nothing was really happening. And we all know that now, that that is not a thing.

And that webinars and online events and virtual meetings mean that we are now in this place that has affectionately been dubbed 'Zoom fatigue'. So not all previously in-person events translated well into the digital realm. I think a lot of you would agree that you've probably been to at least one or two webinars that lacked the value that you might otherwise see from an in-person event. So virtual events are the reality of what we're working with right now. And in the recent episode on strategic marketing trends we'll see in 2021 - we talked a little bit about hybrid events and how those will be coming to the fore. So, in this episode, we're going to talk about how events are going to happen in 2021, and crucially as a marketer how you're going to deliver value to your audience.

So, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our guest, this is Adam Waller of Big Door Broadcast.

AW: Hello Sarah, how you doing?

SS: We're doing very good thank you. I'm really excited that you volunteered to be my guinea pig and my first guest on the show.

AW: I'm very excited to be with you.

SS: So, I have known Adam for many many years, probably more than we should actually count. And so we've both been in the events world but Adam has obviously got way more experience than I have having moved into marketing. So do you just want to give a bit of a background about your experience and how Big Door Broadcast came into being?

AW: Sure, absolutely. So, I guess, a little bit of pre context. I've spent many years in events, spanning from corporate through to festival through to kind of all manner of events in the technical production world. And that led me over the last few years into broadcast. And, quite kind of crucially to this conversation, led me into the world of TV and, and on mainstream media. So, working in that world, obviously, spending a lot of time amongst people who are broadcast and the broadcast fraternity. When we hit the pandemic and when we hit it, hit into this world where all of a sudden online events, came to the forefront, it sort of prompted me to start looking at that whole world of streaming and online and quite crucially, I realised that there was a lot of people who didn't know anything, hadn't done anything online. And, so it prompted me to take the skills and the things that I've kind of learned and come across in broadcast and transfer them and translate them into streaming and kind of online world, and hence Big Door was born. A lot of people say 'that's been a bit of a strange name, Big Door Broadcast, so what that's all about?'. Well basically, we felt like we were the door to the outside world or even potentially the door to your destination. That was kind of the connotations of what wanting to bring as a company. But more crucially, the idea behind us is to try and target people who wanted to reach out to streaming on online events, didn't have the know-how it, didn't have the ability didn't have the tech. So, that we can kind of come alongside them to help them.

AW: We do have a focus towards the arts, education, music, churches, basically organisations that might struggle to have the experience or the tech. But we are also doing a lot of corporate world work, and actually, sort of fit into that. So that's kind of where the company came from. In amongst that, an opportunity to buy a broadcast unit in a van came about and so we invested in that. And already, we've been inundated with clients, which is fantastic. And more than I was expecting. But we're talking to loads of different range of people about how we can improve their streaming, how we can start their streaming and all the kind of things that come along with that. And the things to watch out for and the things to include and things to plan about and all that kind of thing but that's that's kind of how we came about.

SS: I think that's really interesting. There's a couple of points in there. One is, you know you're really focused on how events can be better in this pandemic world. You know you said that a lot of people don't really have the expertise to do really good quality online events. I think that's where my motivation as a marketer has come about - to try and figure out how we can put these skills together of someone like yourself, who can actually manage the production of an event versus somebody like me as a marketer who knows the people that I want to reach, I know the leads that I want to generate and I know the message I want to get across, but the two don't always fit together. So I think one of the things I really wanted to take from your experience and your knowledge is how somebody like me who's a marketer - I've obviously got goals that have probably come about for 2021 that I might not otherwise have planned, which could have included, you know, an in person event that now can't happen. How would you help me make the event more memorable other than just you know the standard video call like we're doing now how do you get more value across than that?

AW: Okay so, there's a very key thing here that we need to think about before anything else. What's happened in the last you know kind of 6 - 12 months, is that we have gone from a place where online accompanies your event. So, potentially you were already doing some streaming, you were. You're already putting some bits and pieces online you were potentially broadcasting your event online or whatever but it very much went alongside. And I think, with some exceptions, I think most people a lot of people would didn't realise that actually, to really engage people digitally online, then you have to look at the focus of how the event is portrayed. In other words, just having a camera and some audio of your event online - whilst it means people can catch up and see what went on - it's not the best way of engaging those online people. I think what's happened in the last few months is that people have realised actually because online is the only way to get to their people, and that the suddenly there is a focus on engagement and content and how we go about engaging with people and make because that actual material in that digital material has to be focused in on the person at home, rather than the person in the room. And I think that's a big shift in mentality. So, you know, rather than just relaying your event online, you've got to suddenly do your event online and it's got to be as engaging and it's got to be as interesting and it's got to have all the things. And I think as you've mentioned I think that production value has a massive massive part to play in that.

AW: And that's kind of where we come in and where we want to put our focus. But also, I think where marketers should be putting their focus. Because I think going forward, I mean obviously at the moment we're in a state where we're still just holding online events, that's the only way of reaching people. Now moving forward, I think there's a lot of our customers that are saying to us - we want to be past the pandemic we want to think past when actually events can happen again. And how, because we've realised that online has massive value and a big part to play. There's a lot of our audience and people who actually might only ever engage with us online now, because they found it such a convenient way to do things or it suits them or, it means they can live somewhere on an island and still work and do what they do. So they're starting to think kind of how we shift that focus and I don't think it's going to be acceptable anymore. It's my bold statement but I don't think it's gonna be acceptable anymore just to relay your online event, you know, a camera in the corner and some audio or even, you know, a nicely mixed produced feed. I don't think that's necessarily going to be enough. And I think the people who are going to really succeed are the people that actually think through the engagement factor of what happens online as well as the kind of value of what's going on. And what do I mean by that, I guess. I mean, the kind of production around what goes out. You know that might see a presenter, in a small studio at your event. And so you might have your own event, you start your actual event in person, you might get to have an audience, and you might have a presenter, in a small studio who overlooks that event, pulls content out does discussions about it. They're like you see on TV now and a lot of this is where that kind of comes from, from my perspective is that I've watched in my kind of years in TV I've watched how that happens. And I think, you know that in itself, adds value to what you're doing - pushes it to your online audience, and they feel as important as the people that are in the room. And I think that's the balancing act that going forward marketers are going to have to have a look at that. I think they will have to look at doing two streams, you know, the in-person and the online and I think that that's potentially the kind of the key thing is to start off with.

SS: Yeah, I completely agree. You know what you were saying in terms of just having a nicely produced feed that doesn't have any texture and comes across more like a lesson or more like a teaching video, you know that's not got enough to it anymore. You know, that's no different to just sitting on a webinar, you know you're not going to learn or you're not going to get the value from that. So the idea of having, you know more of a TV-style production where you've maybe got a host or a presenter and you've maybe got guests. So, when a company comes to you and they want to take what would have been in-person event online. Is that the kind of structure that you normally recommend to them?

AW: It's certainly one. We been talking to a whole range of clients, which is fantastic and really, really interesting. I think you know everyone from corporate companies who are obviously putting on events through to music and arts organisations who are trying to do concerts - I think they are realising that they need to do more than just relay. And so yeah, absolutely. You know a presenter in a studio is one aspect. It could be a lot of recorded content that's been put together alongside so running running a theme so it's not necessarily picking out the stuff from the main session but it accompanies it. I know, from from my years in corporate events, sometimes it's so hard to fit everything you want to fit into a programme in a venue so that gives you an opportunity to maybe look at some of those little side things, alongside, I think there's all manner of ways of doing it. I think the importance is keeping the production value high, making sure you're employing the right presenter and the right people to do that. It's very easy and it's often default to go "Pete in the comms department he's good at presenting he can talk, let's you know let's maybe make him the presenter". When in actual fact it's quite a skilled job, particularly if you get to a level of having an earpiece in and trying to look at the live content. All the skills that come with that are quite important and quite difficult. And so, you know if you put an earpiece in his ear, can he talk and present at the same time as listening to instruction? All those kinds of things. It's actually looking for the right people and the right ways of doing things to keep that content to keep it quality, and why - because everybody watches TV, and the majority, I put in inverted commas of TV is quality, and so, you know, is what people are used to is what people are and if they don't see that kind of quality and yes I know there is an argument at the moment where they're saying well because you know because of all the online stuff and the quality aspects of it that you know people or people are getting more used to a video call. I don't kind of tie in with that, I think we should strive to do things as well as we can. And I think the best results are going to be by putting that production value behind it.

AW: Giving you a little example, and I basically where a lot of our stuff comes from. Back at the beginning of where we started with Big Door was a festival that approached us. And well, I say approach - this is actually a festival I was pretty involved with who said we are thinking we're not going to do anything this year, and this was this summer. And I said no no no, you've got to do something you've got to keep that engagement of your audience. Ans they said we don't really know what we're doing and I said, well, let me have a go with telling you what you need to do, and so they agreed, and we pitched an online festival. And then they said okay well let's give it a go. And we did two days of this online festival. And we put two very, very skilled professional presenters in place, we chose a nice venue in the town where the festival happens, we dressed it, we lit it, we put three cameras in, we gave it all the production value that it should have. And to give you a kind of example of the impact that it had on the first day. They were midway through a crowdfunder, and by the second end of the second day of streaming, we'd put £20,000 on the Crowdfunder by engagement, and suddenly they saw the value. And I think, you know that that's just a little example but it by having engagement, by having interaction, and by use of socials - we had competitions going on on Twitter and on Facebook, and you know a number of the socials and getting people involved we were putting kind of crowdfunding items out and stuff as suddenly all this engagement bubbled away. And you know we really sort of increased their online giving and their crowdfunding, which was fantastic but I just think it demonstrates the power of doing that properly. And you know and actually, it was a carefully rehearsed show with quality content. And, you know, and we had all the relevant people there to make that me the sound engineer, we had a vision mix, we had a stream op, we had two cameras, we had a floor manager. And we had the right people to make the job right.

SS: I think that's really important because not many marketers will know the kind of scale of setup that you're talking about to produce two days of live streaming and, you know, even though it was a festival that could very much have been a corporate event, it could have been a product launch it could have been you know anything, but just, you know, you're going to some really good detail there just talk me through the whole setup that you did just to produce those two days of content.

AW: Okay, so it started off quite a few weeks before. I mean we actually put the whole event together in quite short space of time for an online event but it started a few weeks beforehand where the content of all the actual concert slots were sent into me.

SS: So, all the concert slots were virtual, they were done by the artists wherever the artists?

AW: Absolutely, so they pre-recorded those and they were all artists that were on the bill because obviously, you know as we all know, in the summer, a lot of events got cancelled. And they were already on the bill so we sort of keyed in with those artists and talked to those artists about doing slots - all pre-recorded slots. And, and they were sent in. They were then kind of quality-controlled it if you like, so we went through with an editor and we dress them and we put nice graphics over them, straps and lower thirds, and kind of all the bits to make them look great - but also checking their audio, checking that they all conformed to where we wanted it and levels and all that kind of side of things. And, then once that was already that whole package and mid-this package, we were also preparing an intro VT or video to the event idents to be played between items, lower thirds and graphics to be able to be played over the top and really to kind of dress it and make it look great. Then on-site, I pulled together a team actually of technicians that normally work the event, but that happens all do corporate and a bit of broadcast and so we pulled them together because at that point. A lot of them had lost their work so it was nice to kind of actually give them some work in the summer. And we as I kind of previously mentioned, we had a full team on site - we took over the actual Town Hall of the town we were in. I talk about it like I can't mention the festival, I can tell everybody - it was the Sidmouth Folk Festival, which is quite a large folk festival which happens every year. It gets to upwards of 10,000 people in the town. So it's quite a big loss to the town, really. So we actually based ourselves from the Town Hall. We wanted to be in the heart of the town, we wanted to be you know in the heart of where the festival happens. As I mentioned, we employ two professional presenters who had actually had affiliations with the festival as well. But were pro presenters, and we set up a little studio. And actually, we put some really nice content together and we did the links backwards and forwards between the concert slots. So, we'd have an intro, we'd play the intro VT, we'd go live to the presenters. We then go backwards or forwards between the concert slots we'd have a look we had some competitions on socials, which kind of as I mentioned, kind of stem some of that on online interaction, which we weren't expecting it quite to go as big as it did go. And, it was interesting because I didn't know how many viewers we would get, I had no idea, you know. Obviously, 1000s of people come to the festival, but I had absolutely no idea how many people were going to come online and so we streamed to YouTube and then onto our own website. And I made the decision not to go to Facebook, which a lot of people said was bonkers because that's where it's gonna go most viral. However, I felt from a quality point of view, Facebook does compress the audio, does compress the picture, and I wanted to keep the quality of what we were doing high. Looking at our audience, I felt that they would happily come to our website or go to YouTube to watch.

SS: Just for people who might not know, sorry to interrupt you, tell me what compressing the audio and compressing the video does to the experience.

AW: Sure thing. So, particularly if you're looking at a music event, obviously getting the best quality audio and pictures that you can. So, compression is something we use to control audio. So it basically takes the high levels of the loud bits and takes the quiet bits and kind of squashes them, so it brings the loud bits down and the and the low bits up and makes it constant. And that's quite important when you're watching on your TV or your computer, that you're not turning the volume up and down every five minutes. But likewise, it can be overdone, and over-compressed means that it kind of ends up squashing it to the point where you can really hear it and you can't hear the dynamics in what's happening. And as we were a music event, we wanted to have as much control over that as we could. And Facebook is kind of known amongst the industry for squashing, it's just because they try and keep their data transfer low. And so that's what they do. I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing. And, and for a lot of stuff it is absolutely fine, but we just felt that for what we were trying to do, but also we wanted to create.. People pay a lot of money to come to Sidmouth in person. And actually, we wanted to create an experience that we put up, and then we took down afterwards so that it was an event, it felt special, it felt like it was something that they went to rather than just being available then the whole time. And so that I mean that was another point - we actually put it up left after seven days which would normally be the period of the festival, and then we took it down, and none of that is left online so that it really did kind of - it was an event it was something that people went to and I think that's quite an important part of what we did.

SS: I think that's a really important differentiation because I feel like, you know, particularly as marketers we're guilty of repurposing content - we reuse things and you know that's great when you're trying to make a budget go a long way, but for an event that happens in a moment in time, it loses that sort of feeling that you would get walking into a venue and seeing the speakers. The main thing that I've noticed in the commentary about online events is that lack of in person interaction, and of course, you can't replicate that but did you find that with the engagement on social and you know comments on the YouTube stream and stuff that people were getting involved and giving you feedback as it was happening?

AW: I think to start off with, no. We started off, and there's not much. I think just going back to when I was saying I didn't really know how many people gonna watch and started the stream. And I looked at YouTube I looked at the stats on YouTube and, you know, we were kind of up to like 200 views and I was thinking, I was hoping for a little bit more than that. And then gradually on this was on the first evening and gradually as we went through the show that was starting to rise. I then went over to our website, where we were, we were streaming it, and suddenly I clicked on the page. And I looked and went Oh, we're at two and a half thousand viewera on that page. And it was really interesting I think that's, that was partly due to the nature of the audience that actually they were much more comfortable watching it on the website because that's what they did rather than watching it on a social. But what was interesting was that there wasn't loads, there was a little bit of chat on there - oh this is a great performance always and she's great, isn't he great, but there wasn't loads it wasn't until we did we played a game. A really simple game where one of the presenters, had been off around town during the day, taking some pictures of themselves in certain positions around the town - one up really close and then a further one and the idea was that,just for people to guess where Matthew was and that was the name of the game, "where's Matthew the presenter". Really simple really straightforward. And I think in myself this is just a bit seems silly gimmicky but everyone was kind of like no no no, do it do it and so I kind of went with it. And we played the first game, and Twitter and Facebook lit up with people. And suddenly I realised, as because one of their big things about coming to the festival is the town. And, you know, partly it's the music and the festival, but some of it is the town and they spend years coming because they love the town. And so people all of a sudden - it wasn't just I think Matthews in the shelter on the seafront. It was oh I think Matthews in the shelter and seafront oh that was where I met my husband and then 10 years later we got married. And all these conversations and all this kind of stuff suddenly flurried online and I kind of had to put myself in check and go, actually really worked well because we were getting pictures sent, and we were getting all sorts. And just a really really simple, simple thing.

AW: So, I think the key take-home from that is that actually. You've got to really look at your, your online content and look at the engagement and look of what is going to grab people, and what is going to get people talking and what is it, and sometimes it's really simple things. And once they're in the conversation online and then once they're engaged - you then have that opportunity to get across the kind of meat of what you want to get to them. And I think, and then another example from that festival was you can buy a lifetime ticket for the festival and is something it's been around a while, but it was being pushed as part of the crowdfunded. But we've never sold one because it's quite a lot of money. So we suddenly kind of thought about it well let's just try it so we said to the presenters in one of the in one of the VT breaks - right in your next link. Can you point this item out and it's you know a lifetime ticket. And we all said oh yeah I mean I think one's ever been sold or at least, very few have been sold. And so we did this link and they push the ticket and they talked about the ticket. And literally, as the link finished. Five sold. And we're talking big value, you know, big value. And I, kind of looked back and then went, what, why was that? I think the only thing I think I can think of is that if we didn't know about people who didn't really realise that they were there, otherwise then probably bought one. Eventually, what we did was point out that that was available and that was there. And because our audience at that point was so large, there were people that would have bought them all the time, they wouldn't they would have bought them last year or the year before but they just didn't know about them and suddenly we told them, and they bought them and that you know that really has really helped to keep the festival afloat and you know look at being able to do this year and make this year coming viable. So, again, again it was just kind of thinking about that online engagement, and how the content and I think that that rolls in and is one of the reasons why I'm so passionate about not just relaying your event, and actually creating a stream, an online stream which has content and has been a really interesting stuff going on and engagement because I think if you think about that carefully and you plan it, you can really get some good stuff going on it.

SS: I think that's really interesting. You know, there's a couple of things in there. You would never have expected that the audience's connection to Sidmouth was that strong. You know, obviously, you know, people come back every year because they love it but just by, you know centering the studio in town meant you had access to all the locations that everybody recognised. And from what I know people come from all across the world to the festival, so you know they recognise these, these photos that you're putting out. So I think from a marketer's perspective. If you have a connection with your audience, whether that's a location or whether it's things they're used to seeing or things that make them feel good, you know, is there a particular after-party that you always do, you know, I think there's a way that you can incorporate that into the online world that you're going to create.

AW: Definitely I think something interesting you just said there which was about you know sort of worldwide connections. I think that's the other thing is that we do in for that client in that particular setting. They knew they appeal to a world audience, they knew they had people that would come over, you know, but it is quite a small part of their audience. But I don't think they appreciated, by putting online how much engagement, and how, there were people from Canada and America and, you know, I looked at the stats afterwards and I think, you know, I think in overall on the across the two days we had about, we reckoned we had somewhere upwards of about 8,000 viewers between YouTube between the website. And when I started looking into that there was a good 1,000 that were overseas. And I think it was interesting that so all of a sudden, you know, whereas you get that person who comes every two years every three years because I can't afford to travel internationally every year, they were involved and they were not only that they were paying for we did, we did some zoom training and workshops and things alongside, they were paying to go to other bits and pieces and I think all of a sudden we realised Oh, by doing this we actually now, we are available to the world rather than just to our audience here. And whilst that's, I think that's probably understood by some of the big events, particularly in the corporate world. I don't necessarily think that's totally understood but some of the smaller events you know the events that over here maybe get, you know, four or 500 people. They, they suddenly can appeal to a worldwide audience by that use of the online, and I think people are starting to realise that now, and there is a sudden surge towards how we go about kind of doing more online and getting the engagement going on.

SS: Yeah, definitely. I think from a marketing perspective when I think at the conferences that I like to go to, you know, quite often you'll see some high profile speakers and they might only be there, you know every two or three years because they have a schedule and you know they have other conferences to be at but, you know, being able to record from home, means, I guess people's schedules are much more open because you don't have loads of travel time, pre-recorded sections means so many more people can get involved. And I think there's a bit of a missed opportunity there for anyone who's trying to adapt an in-person event, you know you can actually think bigger right now because you can get a much wider range of contributors involved. So, I do think we'll see some growth in those sort of smaller events. The kind of the big brand and product launch type events. I covered one in a recent episode and it was for Samsung, and they created this huge virtual reality. It wasn't virtual reality, excuse me, they had a house that you could tour around, and they had presenters pointing out various bits and pieces. The interesting bit was the augmented reality element, so you could see a Samsung product in your home. Now, augmented reality is something that, you know, we're seeing more and more of right at the very top end. Do you think that's something that is going to become more mainstream in the next couple of years?

AW: Absolutely. I mean, I think, I think there's a surge on anything that can firstly, wow your audience, I think there's an element of that. But I think there is a big element of it being useful as well. I haven't done loads of it online at the moment, because it's got big costs attached to it. So, I think you know there's some really good stuff going on in the exhibition world. And you know, obviously, it was fairly straightforward to take your online conference sessions and sort of your conference sessions and put them online and it wasn't a straightforward, take your exhibition and put them online. Because you know we want to be there and look at the product and see what it does and wherever that might be. So I know that some really good AR stuff that's going on with that. My main experience of AR, and I'm sorry this sounds like a bit of a name drop, but it's just kind of where it's at, but my main experience is on Strictly [Come Dancing]. So Strictly is one of the shows that I'm lucky enough to work on. And we this last season if you watched it and if you're a big fan, then you'll have seen the the AR stuff that kind of went on. We had a full-scale elephant in the studio, we had cars, we had all sorts of stuff that was introduced and, obviously, in being in that mainstream broadcast world they can afford to do it. But it does add a lot of complexities because there's a lot of factors and there's a couple of write-ups online about how things went on. You know, just to give you a little example, you know when the street the whole studio because introducing AR into a broadcast, there's a there's a delay factor of the computer it's not a lot it's very very good and the computers are powerful, but it does introduce delay. So therefore, the whole studio and production team have to enter into that delay world. And so we had to come up with some really clever - there's some guys at the BBC who came up with some really clever ways that a basically a big button would get pressed and that whole place would go into delay and everybody would have to listen and be watching in delay mode, so that they were watching it as it's happening but in, in reality, if you walked out into the studio they weren't in real-time. And so there are all those factors that kind of. So, I think AR has got think an exciting future. I think it's a little way off in terms of being too accessible I think obviously the likes of Samsung and, and the big corporates will have access to it because they have the money. They've got the money to play with it. Exactly. And I think, I think it's one of those things that you know we're not a million miles away from it being for me being accessible. I think if one of my clients came to me and said I want to do AR, I think I would sort of say, how much have you got to spend because that's the starter of the conversation. Because you know that the edit time and all that kind of thing and all the things you have to introduce it, it's, it is a big cost, but it is impressive. So, I think you asked about whether it either being useful and I think it will be useful and particularly in that product realm of being able to see things you know in your home and particularly if you're visiting an event online. The more real that he can be made, the more engaging it will be. If you can see that product in your home and if you can see how it works and what it looks like in 3D and things like that, I think that will be really handy. I just think, potentially at the moment, it's a little way off being totally accessible.

SS: Yeah, I completely agree. And I think for most marketers listening to the podcast it's something to be aware of and to know about and to be familiar with, but I can't see it being within the budget realms of many. At the moment, and, you know, that's fine. We'll just enjoy what the big boys are doing with it. And I was thinking, just in terms of somebody who, is listening to this podcast and they want to maybe get into the world of events this year so there's no you know premise to build on, there's no you know reputation of a previous event. What would you recommend is a good starting point in order to produce something that is, you know, pretty good value and works for the audience that is, you know, not just a zoom call, what would be a good starting point.

AW: Are we talking here totally remote stuff, or are we talking about sort of hybrid , some stuff in person.

SS: Whichever - both if you want to

AW: I think obviously there's a couple of things going on and I think, you know, at the moment, everyone's having to stay quite agile because of you know rules changing and things that can happen things that can't happen. So I've been involved in been doing a lot of completely remote online things where we're obviously bringing every member of the production in from their house. And then also, I think, you know, in the bit where we were allowed to do a bit more and I think hopefully not too far off we'll be able to do a bit more, there's the aspect of being able to have some presenters in a room. I think whatever you're doing, I think, production value is important. I think there are some simple things and some things you can think about. One of my first pieces of advice would be, bring someone in that has broadcast experience, and whether that be broadcast in terms of TV or on stream - someone who's got a knowledge of broadcasting. Because it is quite a different mentality from that kind of live corporate thing I think there are lots of things that have to be thought about. But it's just simple things like looking at lighting. I mean, you know, lighting can make or break a good online event. You know, I think we are getting more used to sitting and seeing people sit in the dark on a zoom call, but I don't necessarily think that's acceptable. I think if you're if you're providing an online event, then the online kind of look of it is just as important as how it sounds. And thinking about you know how it sounds. Now, obviously from a remote perspective, and again we are getting used to that kind of, slightly squishy zoom sound that happens. But, there are loads of ways you know using proper microphones, using an engineer and doing things in. In, the best way you can. And so bringing that advice in and that technical advice in, it really does make a difference and not being scared of it, and not being scared at the budget factor of it as well because it, you know, I think you've, you've got, I don't know, a couple of minutes when someone turns something on, you know, whether you grab them, or whether they just turn off because they've seen it all before. I think obviously there's a big part of the content that is involved in that but someone's, the first thing they're gonna do is see stuff. They're gonna look at it and go, "Oh what's going on here then?" and, and I think if you've got a nice set that's nicely lit. That's interesting that has depth. And that is like what people are used to seeing on the TV, and you've got that your point where you can grab them. And then is your chance to get the content across. So, I think it is underestimated sometimes, partly why, you know, I set Big Door up was because I was looking at some online events and going that could be done so much better with some, even with stuff that I can see in the camera shot. You could just move those around and you could just, you know, change your camera angles and you could just kind of look at the lighting a little bit. And, and I will be so much more interested in what's going on. And so, it has become a little bit of a kind of thing of mine to actually just start off in that basic place you know if when I get approached by client - we're going to do this right so okay what's your location where are you looking at doing this? You know, and, and what are you looking at what are you thinking from a set perspective, what are you thinking from a presenter perspective? And a lot of times I'm getting that with oh I just thought it could be someone from home I don't know you know and and and then then I forward the conversation, because I think those are the things that need to get thought about. And then you have a chance of grabbing people and then, and then really feeding them with, with the content of what you want to give them, but if you don't set those things in motion. Then, in those that first 30 seconds - 60 seconds of them looking at something - they're likely to switch off. And yes, and you've lost them and it's not like they've come into a room, you've got to make the awkward walk towards the door to go like on a live event. Now that another tab let's go to something else. Yeah, and that's that is the other thing to bear in mind as well that you know it's so easy to click off and go into something else that you've almost got to work a little bit harder to give them something that's going to keep them, and half the time I think that is about it looking visually exciting that is you know looking interesting. Also the pace of what you're doing as well, that's something we noticed from a few events that if you think if you turn a presenter on, and their just, really slow, then you lose someone if you've got someone who's punchy and gives it to them and really kind of, you know, is interesting, again, it's that it's that grabbing the watcher, all that stuff, all the stuff which if you've ever been involved in TV or broadcast is at the forefront. Suddenly, we've got to put it into a stream world into a world we've not really kind of put before and that's, that's what I think that's why I think so interesting about, you know, this whole discussion really is about is suddenly about making things in a world that we haven't necessarily made them before, and so therefore looking at all these production elements to make it the best we can make it.

SS: Yeah. And, you know, the kind of things you're talking about there, you know don't have to be big-budget, you know you're talking about just thinking about backgrounds, thinking about lighting, you know, obviously it can be big and it can be beautiful, but you know just elevating from the basic home background. You know, I'm just looking at the studio that I'm sitting in it's full of clutter and you know not great to look at. So there's some simple things that could be done but I'm thinking for marketers that you want to do something that is standout, and there's an opportunity to do that because as we know from both our experiences, there's not many online events that are either able to create that sense of occasion, or have high production values and ideally you want both. And it doesn't need to be expensive but it does need to convey the value that somebody would get from attending an event in person.

AW: Absolutely.

SS: I'm also just going to ask what sort of corporate events re you being asked to look at or talking about at the moment, are we talking about AGMs or launches or what sort of things?

AW: I have been involved in a couple of ATMs, which, I think, when it comes down to an AGM, people are less worried about the production value of it because more about getting the box ticked in terms of what they need to achieve from a business point of view. I think there are a lot of AGM small AGM that are happening on things like zoom and, and the more than meeting platforms hop-in and stuff like that. The slightly bigger ones - we were involved in a couple. And again, we put two or three cameras into head office with a top table (this is when we could do a bit more in person as well) and, you know, we produced a feed that then that went out as their online people used various platforms for voting and stuff, and that was very successful and I think you don't have to pump 1000s of pounds into that to make it successful because you've got a certain amount of content that you have to do and you have to get by. But I think if you do put more effort, kind of production and value into those, then I think you generally have an effect on your membership or your workforce. And, and it's about enthusing them and actually exciting them in terms of where you're at. So, I haven't had loads on we I think we've done two AGMs. In the corporate world, I got involved in quite a lot of Christmas parties and online kind of Christmas wrap-ups and things which were done completely remotely. I think we did some fun stuff with the quizzes, and actually, there's some really exciting stuff that can go on there. Quite recently, Microsoft opened up the ability to do some clever technical stuff in teams, so that within the software we use to make online content - I mean there's loads of different ways of making stuff, but particularly though, we use a bit of software called V-mix and V-Mix has some great function functionality. But in the video world there's, there's a thing called NDI where you can over network you can gain inputs and outputs, and particularly the link up with teams where you could suddenly take a team's call with eight people in and get everybody separately into your production software and then make a show out of it, really started to improve the quality of what was capable of a completely remote event. Which I think is great because I think before that, I mean I've done a few where we were doing team stuff and you have to crop down everyone but someone leaves the conversation and all the windows rearrange and suddenly you're in mid-show you're kind of in a mess. So I think there have been some great advancements in, in some of those supporting software like Teams and Zoom and in a lot of the other ones and I think that will keep getting better as well, and the more that develops, it gives a mix more kind of ability to make good looking online content.

I think next going forward and once we are able to have some sort of, of kind of live event as well - I just think it's gonna be really important to sit down and think through the fact that you have an important audience in the room, and you have an important audience online and you need to cater for both of those. And actually, actually making sure that you are catering for both of those is now becomes the importance of putting on the whole event, not just 'well we'll stream it'.

SS: Yeah, I think the will stream it afterthought, I think is finally done. As you say the priority is going to have to be 50/50 going forwards. And I think for anyone who, for any marketers out there who are thinking about events. It sounds like the way forward is going to be to wait until you can do something that's more hybrid so you can have people doing the presenting, who can do slots in between recorded content, it feels like that's going to be your best bet. But it also occurred to me as we were talking that we're not just talking about public-facing events we're talking about internal events as well. So you know if you're if you have a global team and you're thinking about, well how do I do a really awesome kickoff meeting, then it might be worth thinking about the production value of that meeting because you need engagement from your team members, just the same as you would from your prospects if you were doing it as an external meeting.

AW: Absolutely. In fact, that raises a good point. Some of the work that we've been doing, we got involved with a company that trains on a CEO level. So they train CEOs of large companies in terms of kind of business and, and how they're running their business like kind of stuff, and they approached us and said, we need to do an online training course and what we want to do is we want to dress it up, and we want the production value to be much better. Now, this wasn't to a huge level with presenters and essentially it still needed to just get the content across. I just wanted it to look a bit nicer so we provided a little bit of kit, a little bit of extra kit and a technician who went into a small studio with that CEO, sorry with the trainer the guy that was training the CEOs. And we have a nice backdrop, it was lit nicely, we introduced the camera, a small switcher, there are a few things you can do, just to improve the production quality and value of essentially a Zoom call. And you know, the thing is things like you know we watch a lot of people in Zoom calls and, and they'll share the screen and play the PowerPoint and they'll play a video and you know you're watching it freeze every five seconds as it's trying to play through. You know there's things that if you actually input into Zoom in a slightly different way and you play the video out of professional playback software you can make it look so much better. And, you know we have a tie clip microphone on the presenter and just some really kind of basic things that just made the quality of that seem so much nicer. I think when you're then training, you know, I think this was a three-day course from 8/9am in the morning through till 4/5pm in the afternoon so it's a long time on online. Just a side thought how everything that refers back to Zoom doesn't matter what.

SS: Absolutely. Zoom has become the term just the same as Hoover is now the generic vacuum term.

AW: But it really made a difference to that course. There was some lovely feedback on, I know that the client got you know on how nice it looked and how clear and the quality of it. And it was so good that they looked at that as an option. In what you know it wasn't just "oh well we just sit down on the laptop", but actually even simple things like, you know, you're restricted when you're on a laptop or on a device to where the camera is because generally it's built into the device, whereas we put a separate camera in that we could get to the right eye level. And even talking to someone and you're looking at you know you're at that correct eye level and the shot is framed nicely. I mean, I get told off all the time by my wife because I sit and moan about a shot this friend incorrectly or, you know, or, or the fact that it's too dark or it's too light but it really does make a difference to the engagement, I strongly believe it really does and I think even down to those internal events when you're just talking to your workforce, and you've got to grab them you've, you've got to enthuse them. And so, I mean that is something that we've been we've been taught pushing about these that actually you know, you don't need to necessarily go out there and spend 1000s and 1000s of pounds on a set and all this stuff we can do it in a very basic way, you know, and in a very cost-effective way. But it does make a difference. It really does kind of lift your ability to put on those online meetings, and you know to people who have been stuck at home now for quite a few months, you know, the better quality you can give them the, you know, the better the engagement. I think it's just it is really important generally across the board.

SS: Yeah, I completely agree and I think that's that's interesting the way that you said that people have been stuck at home for such a long time now that they are used to, you know, these sort of low-quality zoom calls with, you know, slightly rubbish audio that they do now notice the higher production values when they exist, and I don't think that's something previously, I would have said an audience is aware of. I don't think that when someone sits down to watch a TV programme they're thinking about you know how many cameras, the production team, the lighting, the setting, you know, all of that effort that has gone into making a TV programme. I don't think you're really conscious of that you're just enjoying the experience, but I think because we've had such a comparatively low-quality experience through, nobody's fault it's just been how we've adapted, that when you just elevate that slightly, it becomes really noticeable and people really value it.

AW: Absolutely. And I think the other thing that's interesting someone told us while I was talking to you the other day, you know when you're sat in a conference room and the person kind of walks up on stage. They make their own decision to walk up on stage and to go out the front and then you know the sound engineer turns the mic up and they start talking and all that kind of happens. And a lot of that can happen at an event. And it's kind of and it will happen, what happens in this now online world of the event is that the technician and the behind the scenes team are fully in control. They're in control of the person walking up, because the poor person cardboard cup unless the technician puts them there, and unmute them and all that and all of a sudden there's been a kind of important value part and not that I'm saying it was necessarily missing before but I think maybe it wasn't as clearly seen that actually it is really important to have the right team, and the right kit, and the right planning and the right kind of approach to the production because without that, you haven't got an event. And yeah, you know, I think we've all been to, we've all been to events where you know the cell is not been particularly good or whatever reason you know and you sort of, you can get through it to a certain degree, but if you don't put those values into, into the online you actually potentially haven't got an event. And so that all of a sudden the stakes are a lot higher. And there's a lot of companies out there doing absolutely fantastic work on some of the online events and I've seen some of them, I've been involved in some of them. And they are really you know there are a lot of very very good companies who've suddenly gone 'ooo we need to do this' and I've built studios and have built control rooms. And so, I think there is a growing opportunity for companies out there and, you know, for the marketers that are listening to this is that, I think the big thing I would say to you is if you're going to put on an event, the first thing you need to do is go find a really good company. They've got a lot of experience in doing it, and open a conversation with them. And, you know, yes, I know it all comes down to what budget you can spend and you know what ability, you've got to spend and I totally appreciate that. But at the same time, start that conversation early because I think that will make such a difference on your online event, and you know what you put on.

SS: Yeah. And that leads me nicely onto my last question that I have for you. So in that initial conversation. What would you recommend that marketers are coming to a company with yourself armed with what sort of questions should they be thinking about.

AW: I think if it was me, I'd want to know initially what experience of events and online events and broadcast is within the company. Everyone has to start somewhere and Big Door was only born in August, but I've what I have been able to do is show a lot of the stuff that I was involved in previous to that. And that we've done already and I think if you go to a company I think it's important to ask the questions about broadcast experience, because you could get people who have done fantastic live events but there are just some things that are different. And so even if they've got broadcast experience they can pull in and I think that's important. I'm often amazed in TV world, when guys and girls come in and they say "that's different we don't do that when, when we're doing a festival". And it's unknown is a different world and there are technically things that are very different. So, I think, definitely, definitely asked about that. And then I think just get an idea of how excited that company is about I mean, you get me in a room and start talking about online events and I do get quite excited I've been quite restrained today.

SS: Very restrained but I can see, we could go on for hours talking about this

AW: I do get very excited about it because I think is such, you know, it's so it's such an opportunity, and oh but also likewise get very upset when I see stuff that's terrible because, you know, as we talked about earlier, you know, there are little simple things you can do so. I think it's just important to get an idea of how a company, approach that online event - do they just think that is a relay as we talked. Are we just going to see, or do they see the value in you know looking at production value and content and how it looks and how it sounds. And, you know, and I think because essentially that's the relationship - the client will deal with the content of what needs to go out but that the company that you approached needs to deal with the way that it looks and the way that it feels and making sure that that content is put across in the best way possible. So, yeah, hopefully that answers that question. I don't know if there's much more to add there other than, you know, I think he can. It is very obvious when you talk to a company, whether they've got the experience and the kind of excitement for it that I think you would want. Because you want someone to get as excited about your online event as you are really that's the thing and that's what we try and do. I try and really jump on board with what they want to put on and I think that's what essentially what happened with Sidmouth, you know, I really got excited about making something that wasn't just a relay of a festival, and you know a few videos online - actually, had engagement actually got people excited and we got some lovely messages about it and I think, you know, as from a company perspective if I get excited about it then I think that I hope that comes across in them what we do for the online client.

SS: Yeah, definitely. Well, this has been absolutely fascinating tell people where they can find you or where they can get in touch with you.

AW: Okay, so you will find us at www.bigdoorbroadcast.co.uk, and there's a contact page for stuff on there. You can email me, Adam (at) bigdoorbroadcast co.uk, and we love to talk to you if you've got any kind of online event that you need help with. And as I said all the way down from you know dressing a zoom meeting up a little bit, making it nice all the way up to sort of full, full-scale production stuff. But thank you so much for having me on Sarah, and it's been absolutely brilliant to chat through this kind of stuff and it's really nice to share your excitement about from a marketer's perspective about, actually, you know, putting events on and making sure their quality and their core value and production value so it's been a pleasure.