Live events will be replaced by digital events for the foreseeable future due to the measures in place to limit the impact of COVID-19, the audience of a livestreaming talk were told.

Video and animation company Stone’s Throw Media outlined to viewers the changing situation around planning live events, which have faced widespread cancellations because of national social distancing and lockdown restrictions.

The team at the Wolverhampton-based agency, who delivered the digital opening ceremony for the £45m state of the art University of Wolverhampton campus at the renovated Springfield Brewery last October, shared the latest thinking for events planners and marketing managers through an hour-long free broadcast.

As well as showcasing their own work in delivering a range of awards ceremonies, talks and VIP presentations, the Stone’s Throw Media team featured the expert thoughts of leading events organisers, who have moved live gatherings to digital equivalents due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rose Padmore, director of events company Opening Doors & Venues Limited, based in Stourbridge, said: “In March last year everything was cancelled so the calendar for our business for the year was blank.”

Having staged a series of digital events, including a five-day online show, Rose is clear what the future holds. She said: “Livestreaming will become the new normal and become integral. Hybrid events will be normal and we will bring together the two audiences, live and virtual.”

Rose said the focus for event managers had previously been on the people gathered in the room, with the online audience an afterthought. “That has changed as the remote audience has now become used to being part of the event,” she said.

For the University of Wolverhampton, Stone’s Throw have produced live broadcasts for digital audiences of the graduation ceremony as well as staff wards.

Michelle White, events manager for the University, appeared in the livestreaming showcase. She said: “Not having to cancel events due to COVID has been important to us. Looking at costs, doing a hybrid event has brought savings.

“For any event or marketing managers who are a little bit nervous about doing an event they should look at doing a hybrid one. You gain the knowledge of being able to do it. You need to go with someone you trust and for us that is Stone’s Throw.”

More than 50 people signed up to join the invite-only event, broadcast online on Thursday (Feb 4) and now available to view on YouTube.

Hosted by Stone’s Throw Media co-founder and director Mike Chinn, the event explained to viewers the opportunities offered by webinars, digital broadcasts, livestreaming events and web meetings. Broadcast live from their Wolverhampton base, the agency team used their range of equipment to explain the opportunities offered by moving events online.

Stone’s Throw invited an audience of marketing managers and event planners to join the session, to explain the opportunities they have identified in staging digital openings, launches and information sessions.

The audience were shown behind the scenes, with Mike talking them through the four-camera production set-up and encouraged organisers to look carefully at ways they could interact with the online audience.

Mike said: “People love to be part of something that is live and to have the chance to give feedback immediately. Live events are stressful so it helps to spread the load if you use a professional team.”

Speaking after the event, Mike said he was pleased with the response from the showcase audience. He said: “We set up the production the day before because we wanted it to show the full potential of staging a digital event. We had a lot of questions posed to us during the session, which was a true team effort, so we are keen to look at staging another one in the future for those who missed out.”

Mike and Matt Weston set up Stone’s Throw Media in 2011 after they met on a University of Wolverhampton media course. With eight staff, Stone’s Throw Media have been producing videos, animations and digital events for a range of commercial and academic clients.

You can see the Stone’s Throw livestream video here!

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