Jan 19, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

PRMM Interviews from #VES11 with Altus and Social27

Here are two videos that I took while I was at the Virtual Edge Summit 2011.  Again, while I provided PR/marketing/social media services to the summit, the below represents my personal opinions and not those of the Virtual Edge Summit.

View more interviews on YouTube

Jan 17, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Virtual Edge Summit 2011 – Mobile Comes to Hybrid and Virtual Events

Photo courtesy of Altus

NOTE: I am providing pr/marketing services to the Virtual Edge Summit. This post reflects my personal opinions and is not representative of the Virtual Edge Institute or Virtual Edge Summit.  

I previously wrote about some of the efforts we undertook to promote the Virtual Edge Summit. I would like to highlight some of the buzz coming out of the Summit and what this means for marketers. Interestingly, I anticipated hearing some innovations from the key players in the US virtual events market – INXPO (Note: I was previously employed here), 6Connex, and Unisfair.    

Rather, for me, I was intrigued by the number of mobile developments by other providers at the show, Altus, Digitell Inc. and Social27. While this was surprising, it fits into my overall predictions about the industry, that newcomers will help push the innovation for virtual and hybrid events. Here’s a quick summary of the announcements. I also had the opportunity to speak briefly with Altus and Social27. Here is a quick overview of the Altus and Social27 news, and I plan to post the videos once I get those completed. 

Altus Brings Conferences to the Palm of Your Hand

Altus highlighted their announcement as an extension of physical to provide a “hybrid” experience. The mobile application allows conference organizers to put the conference agenda, sponsor information and even presentations on your mobile device. 

Why you should take a look? Since attendees proactively download the app to their device (supports many operating systems), conference organizers can continue pushing updates to attendees long after the conference has ended. If you leverage this as an opportunity to continue a conversation, you can keep members engaged while driving interest for the following conference, as well as open up possible revenue opportunities via sponsorships.    

Taking Social Interaction to the Next Level with Social27

Photo via Social27 Website

Social27 originally started as a service to bring social collaboration to enterprises. Seeing an opportunity, Social27 is moving into events and conferences. The company has a philosophy of “Social, Mobile and Local”, which Ike Singh Kehal, CEO of Social27, explains in his video (coming soon). Like the main U.S. players in the market, Social27 provides an environment with 2D locations for networking, exhibitors and sessions. Since the company comes from the social collaboration space, Social27 provides a simple integration with the key social networks. 

Why you should take a look? Social27 does the social collaboration and networking well. I would venture to say that it provides the simplest and most intuitive interface to date. Furthermore, the company leverages the wealth of your social graph to provide “matches” to assist with networking. Currently available on Windows mobile phones, expect Social27 to expand the services to additional mobile OS. By adding the geographic aspect as well, Social27 provides marketers with the ability to search, seek and network with prospects – virtually or in the real world. 

 Conclusion

The Virtual Edge Summit provided great insight into how marketers can leverage virtual and hybrid events as part of the marketing mix. And an integral part of the experience is extending the event to mobile devices. Do you agree or disagree?

Jan 6, 2011
Cece Salomon-Lee

Virtual Edge Institute – An Inside Look at Event PR and Marketing

Courtesy of Virtual Edge Summit

From January 12-13, 2011, hundreds of people will gather in Las Vegas and online to attend the Virtual Edge Summit 2011. I have had the pleasure of assisting the Summit in their public relations and marketing efforts. While I have done PR and marketing activities as a vendor exhibiting or speaking at an event, this was an interesting opportunity to help drive awareness, conversation and ultimately registrations for a conference of this sidze (not including corporate webinars and virtual events).

With the conference a week away, we will not have a full sense of the results until after it has concluded. With that said, I wanted to highlight three strategies and tactics we used (are using). While this doesn’t encompass everything we did/are doing for the Summit, it does provide a look under the covers:

Key Objectives

1. Drive Brand Awareness: This year, the Virtual Edge Summit expanded its program beyond virtual events, meetings and conferences to incorporate virtual learning and training. This opened up the Summit a potential new pool of attendees within the elearning and training spaces. Our goal was to continue driving awareness within the meeting and events industry, while introducing the Summit to this new space.

2. Increase Engagement: We wanted to build on the 2010 efforts to further involve our audience – both virtual and physical – with the Summit. This would help generate word of mouth amongst our key audiences and hopefully reach new target audiences.

3. Grow Registrations for In-Person and Virtual Attendance:  And of course, part of the success would be measured by the number of registration for the in-person and virtual versions of the event.

Key Tactics

1. Focus on Public Relations: My foundation is in public relations, so this was a natural area to focus our efforts.  In addition to the general press releases about keynote speakers, new sponsors and the program, we looked at how we can generate discussion in the industry, while promoting the Summit. For example, we decided to develop an infographic that summarized the key virtual events industrystats from 2010. The purpose was to provide the industry with a visual way to synthesize the progress that virtual had made over the past 12 months. In addition to posting to the Summit blog, we contacted key reporters, industry bloggers, and sponsors. The resulting blog posts and discussion around the infographic keeps the Summit and Virtual Edge Institute front and center.

2. Start and Seed a Summit Blog: Our speakers are the innovators within the virtual events and learning industries. We started a blog and invited our speakers to submit 300-400 word blog postings related to their presentation or industry. With a dozen speakers taking up the offer, this provided credibility to the blog, allowed us to generate relevant content quickly, and distribute this to a wider audience through speaker promotion. At this writing, our hope is to continue the blog to drive the conversation until the next Summit.

3. Social Media: While Twitter was leveraged last year, we drafted a more formal strategy for our social media program this year.

a. The cornerstone will continue to be Twitter, assigning each room with a unique hashtag to receive questions from the audience. We also created Twitter lists of attendees, speakers and sponsors to recognize all the different audiences supporting the Summit. Finally, we reached out to speakers and sponsors to promote their participation at the conference, which generated many tweets leading up to the conference over the past few days.

b. We researched groups in learning, training, events, conferences and meetings on LinkedIn.  Following group guidelines, we posted information about the Summit, participated in appropriate discussions,  and/or started discussions.

c. With regard to Facebook, this is being leveraged as an alternative way to connect with our audiences. We cross post all blog posts and post questions to solicit engagement. While this part is nascent, we’re contemplating using Facebook as the main photo archive for the Summit and inviting virtual attendees to post photos of where they are attending the Summit to the page.

Wish Us Good Luck

While this doesn’t cover everything we’ve been doing, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far. If you’re interested in checking out the summit, you can register at http://www.virtualedgesummit.com/registration_reader. The interesting aspect is that the Summit will have ten different technology vendors streaming the content. The idea is to provide people with a choice and way to evaluate different ways of holding a virtual event.

In the post-event summary, I’ll highlight some other unique aspects of the event, initial results and some areas of improvement.

And I’ll also be one of the virtual hosts to bring content live from the exhibit show floor to the virtual audience! (wish me luck)

Dec 17, 2010
Cece Salomon-Lee

PRMM Interview Part 2: Dannette Veale of Cisco on Mobility

Last week, I spoke with Dannette Veale of Cisco regarding how Cisco is leverainge virtual and new technologies for their events and conferences. This week, Dannette shares her predictions for 2011.

It’s the time of year for 2011 predictions. What do you see in store for the industry in 2011 and which technology(ies) do you think will gain popularity?

I see mobility as being the big one and will start looking at that. We leveraged Ustream last year and have a lot of interest with the mobile app for Ustream iPhone. I also think that with the onset of tablets and number of tablets being put out by Samsung and Apple, we will see a huge amount of event tools and experience extended out to mobile, especially tablets.  We will see people go beyond the provider mobile applications and opt for white label applications for mobile to create a push-pull opportunity.

For example, download a hypothetical Cisco Live mobile app that will notify the user of updates to content, new contests and upcoming live events they can watch via their mobile device. This type of mobile application could be leveraged as an audience acquisition tool. If I’m not reaching you via the event web site, direct email or social media, but you’ve downloaded my app, then those individuals will be notified of updates. They are invested as they downloaded the app already. This will be a key way to distribute live video for hybrid events.

I also see mobile for event management taking off tenfold – the ability to monitor traffic to various areas with physical security reading back to data analytic tool, 40% of audience in auditorium or 60% in tradeshow floor, is a powerful tool for an event operations team. From an event management perspective, you’ll have real-time results for key surveys on key session and prize notifications on basic level, etc.

I see mobile becoming an intrinsic tool that event managemers will really be able to leverage to manage the event and do that analysis. It simply makes them more nimble.

The unconference will be realized as well, and mobile can help with this. You can watch the video,  translate and ease the conference experience with maps on their device. Add to this a way to heat map where the traffic levels are, extending this function to your buddies and contacts, you can enhance the virtual experience or promote friending at a physical event itself.  You’re able to see when people are online or physically at a specific location.  In a large conference where there are many people, you can only send a small group of people to the event and the social gatherings are around their co-workers for dinner and other activities. The social mobile tools now give them the access to make and find connections.

The event experience will increase as a whole.

Dannette Veale’s Bio

As the virtual and social technology strategist for Cisco’s Global Sales Experience (GSX), Dannette Veale lives and breathes new media. Prior to her role on the GSX team Dannette lead the creation and drove the strategy for the award winning Cisco Live and Networkers virtual program. Dannette has also managed global online and virtual programs for a variety of Cisco groups; most notably emerging markets. When she’s not evangelizing the use of virtual environments to extend the reach of an event and broaden the overall audience demographic participating, you’ll find Dannette engaged in such varied hobbies as producing streaming media, designing Web sites, or watching classic films such as Blade Runner. Outside of her daily immersion in the bleeding edge of collaborative media, Dannette’s also been known to partake in such real world activities as gardening, baking, and knitting;while watching cyberpunk anime, of course.

Dec 15, 2010
Cece Salomon-Lee

Focus Expert Roundtable December 15: Virtual Events

I will be moderating a Focus.com teleconference on Virtual Events on today, December 15th at 11AM PT/  2PM ET with Jeff Hurt, Donna Sanford, and Shannon Ryan, where we will discuss best practices for hybrid events.

Topics include:
1) Tips for engaging both physical and virtual audiences
2) Key considerations to keep top of mind
3) Technologies that can enhance the hybrid event experience

Panelists:

Shannon Ryan, Interactive Summit Lead, Focus

Donna Sanford, President , Sanford Project Partners,

Jeff Hurt, Director of Education & Engagement, Velvet Chansaw Consultin 

To Participate: 

Toll Free United States (866) 951-1151

Toll United States (201) 590-2255

Conference #: 4999006

Submit Questions to:

On Focus.com, use the keyword: FocusRTVE

On Twitter, use hashtag #FocusRTVE

Share this with your Friends:

LinkedIn | Twitter

Dec 14, 2010
Cece Salomon-Lee

Help Amy and Andrew Win a Nissan Leaf

My husband and I are huge electric car enthusiasts, but not as much as our friends Amy and Andrew. I was curious when they asked me to vote for their video for a chance to win a Nissan Leaf (click on the image to the left to launch their video). I personally think their video is great =) and a great way for Nissan to drive interest in their first generation Leaf.

The contest rules are pretty straightforward: Schedule a time to test drive the Lead, record a video and promote it to friends and family for votes. A winner is selected from the various regions, with one winning the grand prize – a quiet car that will sneak upon you with no warning.

While this is a great way to drive people to the event, grow its list of prospective buyers, increase engagement, and spread the word, here are my recommendations to make this an event better contest.

1) You can share the video via Twitter, Facebook and email, but there was no way to embed the video to blogs and websites. Hence, why I did a screen capture and link to the video.

2) While the link takes you to a single videos, there is no video gallery to view entries from a single event. By having a centralized gallery, Nissan could leverage it’s marketing weight to segment email lists and encourage people to vote for the best video. This could also drive interest in the contest itself. Instead, the contest depends on individuals to spread the word.

3) I’m actually on the Nissan Leaf mailing list and received emails about the Nissan Test Drive tour. But I had not heard about this contest until the email from my friends, who had scheduled a test drive. My assumption is that the contest wasn’t well integrated with the other marketing channels for the Leaf – email marketing, PR (first person who received a Leaf in the Bay Area made the local news), etc. Bringing these channels together could provide Nissan with great word-of-mouth, especially as this first generation of electric cars roll out.

What do you think? And don’t forget, Vote for Amy and Andrew now! I want to be the first to ride in the car!

Dec 10, 2010
Cece Salomon-Lee

PRMM Interview Part 1: Dannette Veale of Cisco on Innovative Virtual Events

Following previous interviews with key virtual event vendors, I interviewed Dannette Veale, Virtual & Social Technology Strategist, Global Sales Experience (GSX) of Cisco, to get an end-user perspective about virtual events and what technology innovations we can anticipate. Now a member of the Cisco Global Sales Experience team, Dannette previously produced the global Cisco Live and Networkers conferences as hybrid events. She will be speaking at the Virtual Edge Summit on future trends for virtual and hybrid events on January 12, 2011 from 2:15 – 3:00 pm.

In Part 1, we discussed virtual events, the pros and cons of being an innovator, and how Cisco leveraged several technologies for the Cisco Live hybrid events. In part 2, to be published next week, Dannette shared her predictions for events in 2011. Hint: it’s about mobility. Please leave any questions you have for Dannette in the comments.

How are virtual events being leveraged within Cisco?

Cisco leverages virtual in many ways.  We have flagship events like Cisco Live, which is annual user event with several points around the world, and Partner Summit event, which is our single point of activity for partner communities. And there are internal events, like the Strategic Leadership Offsite (SLO) and GSX (Global Sales Experience). We see virtual as a way to most cost-effectively take event activities to a mass audience.

For majority, Partner Summit and Cisco Live events around the globe, are physical events that are hybrid to extend the activity to a worldwide audience. There is some unique programming for virtual audiences. We don’t clone or repeat everything at physical event. We look at what will translate to the virtual and opportunities to create an experience that can’t be done at the physical event.

For example, keynotes are always presented at Cisco Live and taken to virtual audience. Virtual provides a unique or intimate experience for a post keynote chat session. Keynote speaker goes into a room to have a dialogue with the audience for questions that came up during the keynote. We leverage a space that the speaker can do an intimate chat with 10K people on site in Las Vegas and 30k+ people attending virtually.

That is where we see how virtual offers opportunities that you can’t facilitate at the  physical.And some in the physical won’t translate well into virtual. We have a technical solutions clinic on site at Cisco Live for attendees to visit on an ad hoc basis to work with Cisco support regarding deployment issues. In the technical solutions clinic the primary source for sharing information is a white board, this format is difficult to translate virtually. Therefore we have a modified version for virtual that we call the Ask the Expert Center, providing this on a schedule basis versus intervals. When you have 10-15K onsite, there will be plenty of foot traffic to the technical solutions clinic. In the virtual environment, the open-ended aspect doesn’t work as well and virtual attendees respond better with scheduled activities, such as ask-the-expert activities.

You’re incorporating several innovative technologies, such as augmented reality and QR codes. What are your recommendations for others considering using technology for their events? Pros and cons?

We haven’t rolled out some of the technology you mentioned. We had augmented reality (AR) featured at Cisco Live Europe 2010 with keynote speaker, Prof. Bruce Thomas, and used some AR tools on stage to demo power. But we haven’t done what I feel we can do to integrate this on the tradeshow floor.

We also haven’t done a lot with QR codes, and I have blogged a lot about how to leverage it for an event. Rather, we’ve leveraged more social tools like geo-location with Foursquare and DoubleDutch (white-labeled) for Cisco events.  We’ve also used Ustream with Facebook and Twitter. 

While we haven’t done much for events yet, we can push the envelope with AR and I would love to see a on site and virtual blended scavenger hunt leveraging QR codes, but not at this time.

What are the pros or cons of doing this?

Pro is that we were first – a trailblazer for virtual event opportunities in general. Use that as the specific pro and con for technology.

As an early adopter, we can have a much more dynamic effect on the evolution of that industry and technology offer. There is something to be said about partnering with the companies on these technologies to evangelize the business prospect regarding what we need from these technologies. The earlier we participate on this, the more influence we can have on their long-term road maps.

Con is that sometimes things don’t work. Once we’ve done it and publicized, we have to be ok with saying that it didn’t work. For example I have some blogs about gaming implementation for CiscoLive 2010. Some goals that were on the scope couldn’t’ be realized within the timeframe of deployment. We had to be ok with saying that we didn’t meet all the objectives and met 50% of them, while pursuing the other later. That can be perceived as a con – I don’t personally see this as a con and think it’s about being a good thought leader in the space. 

Dannette Veale’s Bio

As the virtual and social technology strategist for Cisco’s Global Sales Experience (GSX), Dannette Veale lives and breathes new media. Prior to her role on the GSX team Dannette lead the creation and drove the strategy for the award winning Cisco Live and Networkers virtual program. Dannette has also managed global online and virtual programs for a variety of Cisco groups; most notably emerging markets. When she’s not evangelizing the use of virtual environments to extend the reach of an event and broaden the overall audience demographic participating, you’ll find Dannette engaged in such varied hobbies as producing streaming media, designing Web sites, or watching classic films such as Blade Runner. Outside of her daily immersion in the bleeding edge of collaborative media, Dannette’s also been known to partake in such real world activities as gardening, baking, and knitting;while watching cyberpunk anime, of course.

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About

Cece Salomon-LeeCece Salomon-Lee is director of marketing for ACTIVE Network, Business Solutions division, and author of PR Meets Marketing, which explores the intersection of public relations, marketing, and social media.

This blog contains Cece's personal opinions and are not representative of her company's.

Learn more about Cece.

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