Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, media events were starting to gather momentum as a way for media organisations to better understand their readers and generate new revenue.
When Orson Francescone joined The Financial Times in late 2019 as the managing director of its media events business, FT Live, he had a portfolio of around 200 physical events planned that year. Covid-19 had other ideas.
In this week's podcast, Francescone talks about how he had to pivot quickly to virtual events, and found them to be a roaring success. FT's physical events used to reach 25,000 delegates in venues around the world in a single year. By comparison, virtual events have reached some 250,000 in the same time period.
However, people are experiencing 'Zoom fatigue' and this format is not sustainable forever. Add to that the fact that physical event staples - networking, panel discussions, audience questions - often feel flat in a virtual setting. It means we need to rethink the virtual model.
Many publishers are now looking at a hybrid scenario where physical and virtual events co-exist. The FT Live is planning to return to physical venues this September for its FT weekend festival.
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