Producing Live Events: Tip 7: You’re In Charge of Marketing, Even When You’re Not

Total Webcasting is a webcasting service provider out of New York that produces dozens of events a month, and thousands since its inception in 2007. Total Webcasting is unique in that it produces virtually all events for its customers, while owning the streaming server and content management system used for live and on-demand delivery, providing the complete “glass-to-glass” experience. Through their experience, the company has mastered the art of the problem-free webcast. I’ve been after company president Robert Feldman to share his tips with my readers for years; he’s agreed to share his top ten in Letterman order. This is number seven.

empty auditorium.jpg

No one likes broadcasting to an empty auditorium. 

I am still in awe each time we do a live webcast and see people from all over the world watching and enjoying the experience we are creating. Though we are just the webcasting provider, we want our customers to have lots of viewers, since nothing is better for stimulating more interest than good viewing stats. We offer multiple options for how a viewer accesses the stream, from a full-featured portal to embedding our player into an iframe. Although we prefer when our customers send their viewers to our portal, many do prefer to embed the player in their own webpage. This works well–so long as they remember to do it.

As I write this column, we are producing a live webcast of a high school graduation in upstate NY. We produce lots of high school and college graduations, and in previous years, the event we’re producing now would draw 200 to 300 viewers, many from abroad. But when I checked the live stats (we collect logs every 15 minutes and produce a real-time geographic report) there were only four connections, all through our portal. So I visited the school’s website and could not find a link or even a mention of the live Webcast. 

In contrast, last night we had a graduation that had to move inside at the last minute due to rain. Since space was limited, they could only allow two guests per student, so obviously the webcast was crucial in this rain plan. As you would expect, they put the link and explanation right on their home page and the result was 1500 viewers, which translates into many more eyeballs and grateful grandparents.

Though we’re seldom in charge of attracting viewers to the webcasts we produce, we try to encourage our customers to spread the word about the webcast far and wide. The more viewers they attract, the happier they will be with our services, and the more likely they will be to use us again. Besides, it’s never any fun to produce an event for a near empty house, whether in person, or on the web. 

You can bet that before next year’s graduation for the first high school I mentioned, I’ll check their website a week or so in advance and make sure the webcast is prominently mentioned. Even though we’re not in charge of marketing the webcast, our success may depend upon it. 

Editor’s note: I totally second this emotion. For those of you producing events in-house, the same message holds true; if attendance is disappointing, no one will care that the audio and video looked great. So don’t be afraid to ask early on, “what are we doing to get fannies in the seats?” If there’s no plan in place, or it’s slipshod, let the key stakeholders know that without a comprehensive, well-implemented plan, the webcast’s results will likely be suboptimal. Google “how to market your webinar,” and you’ll have more ideas than you can shake a marketing plan at. 

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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