This year, we learned a lot about creating virtual events, transitioning years of experiential expertise to offer brands the opportunity to continue to show up for audiences—whether building our own proprietary tool to enable true interaction through livestreams, designing virtual event halls to connect and network in, or developing new and immersive broadcasting solutions. And after a long year of social distancing, it only made sense that our global teams were eager to use what they’ve learned to celebrate and capstone 2020.
We’ve loved watching that expertise and practice pay off around the world as our teams have infused live virtual experiences with a greater level of interactivity and accessibility. Events like the LataMMairfest, our own end-of-the-year celebration for Latin America, and the WFH Wonderland, a cooking show for the culinary-inclined, served both as an entertaining experience and a showcase of our capabilities—an example of what we can be achieved when customer and client experience is applied internally, for one’s own team.
Getting ready for her close-up behind the scenes.
For the last few months, virtual experiences have been in the spotlight for building brand relevance among customers. And while in-person gatherings remain beyond the limits of possibility, the virtual ecosystem became the most efficient way to connect and celebrate with employees too, albeit not a simple one. It requires a new set of skills that test even the deftest event planners, but when done well, it offers unlimited opportunities for companies to deliver better employee experiences—for example, a livestream that connects an entire region of 800+ people that would never have been able to celebrate in the same physical space.
Planting the Seeds of Success Throughout the Year
Virtual events are still a novelty for brands, which means there’s plenty of uncharted territory. LataMMairfest integrated all LATAM offices across different time-zones, languages and cultures in the same virtual environment: a livestream fueled by local storytelling. Hosted by MediaMonks’ Events leads and our Marketing Director in LATAM, the show kicked off with a live music performance to hype up the team, followed by four segments—one per every featured country—and a final after-party. Each segment included vlogs from a selection of employees, showing the audience around their cities’ hidden spots and must-see places to make viewers feel closer to their colleagues and their company.
The planning, however, began long before the last few months of the year. “It’s important for us to celebrate as hard as we work,” says Daniela García, Events and Office Support Lead at MediaMonks Buenos Aires. “Keeping that philosophy alive in a year when we can’t see each other has been a real challenge, but one we tackled since day one by planning smaller events throughout the months to keep our people entertained.” The team had previously organized SpringFest, a livestream that brought 400+ people together virtually to celebrate the new season, including interactive elements like a live DJ set, karaoke, games and more.
The LataMMairfest event included a live musical performance.
Apart from creating the desired engagement and motivation, these events welcome new employees, help integrate the team across various mergers throughout the year, and inspire them to share snippets of the event on social media that fueled brand awareness externally. Such was the case with WFH Wonderland, as Peter Gerdes, Mobile Operations Manager and host, explains: “We went for organized chaos, bringing Monks together by cooking with our office chefs, who showed them how to prepare a great three-course dinner. For the not-so-culinary-inclined, we had René with an AirFryer, who cooked fries and made cocktails, of course! With an extra desert in the shape of a quiz and an after-party with DJ’s.”
As experiences go virtual, digital-first companies may be better equipped to deliver—but impressing a team of digital experts is its own challenge for organizers. Fernando Viñas, Events & Office Support Coordinator at MediaMonks Buenos Aires, explains, “Our goal as event coordinators is to make our people feel special, and the only way to do that for a group of detailed-oriented experts in the digital field is to make something as good as the work they produce on a daily basis.”
Stoking the Fire of Collective Enthusiasm
To keep people engaged and entertained through a screen over several hours is no easy feat, but there are a few tips companies should keep in mind. “It’s all about finding the right balance between sophistication and intimacy,” says Nicole ‘Lenny’ Aisemberg, Marketing Director LATAM. “Just like anything we pitch out to clients, we came up with an interesting concept and specific goals we wanted to attain. A virtual event must be professional, as it’s a reflection of our work. However, it should also feel like home. Personal touches can make a big difference in terms of engagement, and that’s why we chose to host the show ourselves. It wouldn’t have been the same with an outsider.”
Through this approach, companies can ensure a unique experience that can’t be replicated by anyone else. And for a company that works as one office in multiple locations like ours, creating one experience for the entire region made absolute sense—a logical, seamless extension of the unifying message emphasized every day of the year.
Building collective enthusiasm by sharing sneak peeks and gifts while keeping the mystery is another great way of stoking excitement and participation. “The hype is a crucial component in any event, but especially in a virtual one. No one knew what was going to happen, and we limited ourselves to small Easter eggs that would fuel conversation, but that’s it,” Viñas explains.
While they don’t completely recapture the experience of gathering in-person, virtual events can play a critical part in supporting a shared sense of community and culture among a team spread afar. And when people feel genuinely included, they’ll be more willing to share that with the world.
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