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Rapid Transformation to Come Out Thriving on the Other Side

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Rapid Transformation to Come Out Thriving on the Other Side A Conversation With Christine Shaw, CEO, Investment News

Find out how this CEO not only kept revenues stable and retained her full event team, but invested in upskilling + product innovation to deliver enhanced value to her key stakeholders: customers, employees and shareholders.

AMR’s 2020 Global Index revealed that the Global Events Industry has contracted by 70%. Eventprofs are struggling with how to rapidly evolve their business models while managing the crisis and waiting for the recovery to kick in. While virtual events have helped maintain relationships with customers and generate revenue, they have also revealed significant gaps in digital expertise, data, technology infrastructure, and organizational culture. Smart organizers will be making fundamental investments in these areas and will develop an information services business model that will run across digital, in-person, research and event consulting.

With only eight months under her belt as the CEO of Investment News when the pandemic hit, Christine Shaw has remarkably not only kept revenues stable and retained her full event team, but also has invested in upskilling and product innovation to deliver enhanced value to her key stakeholders: customers, employees and shareholders.

H2K Founder Heather Holst-Knudsen spoke with Christine during our Virtual Shake-Up 2.0 event about the critical factors that enabled Christine and her team at Investment News to thrive during a time of great uncertainty. Read below for some of the key takeaways from their conversation.

Key Learning 1: Support Your Sponsors & Speakers
Invest in training speakers and sponsors, especially those who aren’t familiar with event technology platforms. Hosting workshops, creating & distributing best practices documents, and coming up with several back up plans in case any issues arise are a few of the ways to make sponsors and speakers feel supported. Coach your speakers on how to have a better on-camera presence and teach them the skills they need for speaking in a virtual context, acknowledging that this is very different from speaking in front of a live audience. These practices make speakers and sponsors feel safe and comfortable while participating in the event and overall lend to a pleasant experience.

Key Learning 2: Investing in Your Team
It’s not just your sponsors and speakers you need to invest in; it’s crucial to spend the time, effort, and money on your employee base as well. The new roles and responsibilities your team is taking on are unchartered territory and they need to be encouraged along the way and know that it is ok to make mistakes. Dedicating the time to get them comfortable with the platforms and technology will pay off.

Investment News has taken their belief in employee wellbeing one step further by introducing “moments of calm” into the work day. They brought on a mediation specialist to do things like start meetings with 30 seconds of mindfulness. This has been extremely well received!
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Another way to support your team is to evolve and introduce new roles that are conducive to the forced business transformation your company has undergone. For example, Investment News now has an event production team that works intimately with its platform and technology. Individuals on this new team act as liaisons between the platform and both the customers and event team. Similar to how you’d have people on-site doing operations for live events, you must have team members who are entrenched in the technology in order to troubleshoot, ensure that clients’ assets are integrating properly, etc.

Key Learning 3: The Hybrid Event Format Isn’t The Magic Bullet

Magic Bullet Cartoon

Hybrid isn’t the perfect solution for every event. Once in-person events are back in full swing, it’ll become clear that some events lend themselves to the hybrid format and others do not. You must look at each individual event and consider the cost versus the opportunity. Once elements such as venue pricing, food & beverage needs, marketing the event, the cost of technology and getting your team and clients trained on that technology are taken into account, it becomes clear that certain elements may stand in the way of effectively executing a hybrid event. Look very specifically at the venue, your audience, and most importantly the P&L.

Key Learning 4: Delivering Quality Leads
Leads and connections are what most sponsors’ participation ultimately come down to. You must make an effort to explain the difference between engagement in an online versus a physical environment to them. When doing so, here are some questions you should be able to answer:

  • What type of content do they need?
  • What assets do they need?
  • What can they do to draw people in to download booth content?
  • What do they need to talk about in order to interest people and ultimately secure the leads they want?

A positive aspect of virtual is that those who join are committing their personal time in a bigger way than they are when attending in-person events. If people are taking the time to attend and engage in a virtual event, those are qualified hot leads. By showing sponsors how to maximize engagement opportunities, Investment News received great feedback. Sponsors have been thrilled by the extent of audience questions, follow ups, and meeting requests they’ve received. Additionally, speakers found that they were much more amplified in the virtual context and reported having received a ton of outreach after participating.

3 Things Christine Shaw Thinks You Should Focus on in 2021:
At the end of the session, Heather asked Christine to share the top three things she believes event organizers should do in 2021. Here is what Christine Shaw thinks you should focus on:

  1. Building and upskilling your team
  2. Investing in technology and constantly evaluating that technology
  3. Be very careful of your P&L as you look toward reintroducing live events and the possibility of hybrid

Additional Highlights From Christine Shaw’s Session:

Audience Q&A

Questions For Christine Shaw at VSU2

Question: Did the speakers express that the additional support and training made a big difference in their experience?
Answer: 100%. We get so much positive feedback that we made things so easy for them. Salesforce verbatim emailed us saying ours was the best virtual event they’ve attended bar none. 

Question: How many platforms did you originally trial and what were the determining factors in the one you selected?
Answer: In the beginning we tried several different platforms and just like a venue we decided it’s not one size fits all. We ended up choosing several platforms. We chose one specific platform because it enabled us to build APIs into it that connect to our registration system. Networking capabilities is another factor that impacted our platform selection. We’re constantly reevaluating because it’s an arms race to become the most robust platform out there and we want to see who emerges as the absolute leaders.

Poll Results

Christine Shaw Poll Results at VSU2

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More About Christine Shaw

Christines Shaw Headshot

Christine Shaw is a dynamic leader, influencer, and expert in the world of financial services media, a champion of diversity, and leading voice on the role of women in the industry. As CEO of Investment News, Christine sets the strategic direction and is responsible for the success of this leading publication for financial advisors, read by more than a million professionals who influence trillions of dollars in managed assets.

Investment News hosts dozens of events and awards each year. Christine came to Investment News from Future PLC, where she was SVP and Managing Director of Global Events, responsible for a global portfolio of 55 events, and before that PennWell Corp., where she oversaw scores of events, tradeshows, publications, and digital properties.

In addition to leading the team at Investment News, Christine shares her expertise and perspective through her podcast Her Success Matters, where she engages top executives at leading financial service firms, highlighting successes and programs within their organizations and helping to break down barriers for the next generation of women executives. Through her podcast, speaking engagements, and authored content, Christine is a force for diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry and anywhere women seek to lead.

Connect with Christine on LinkedIn & Twitter, or contact us for an introduction.

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