I can’t fully express in words how I’m feeling right now. After spending three days in Las Vegas last week at The Special Event/Catersource conference with some of our top industry leaders, I came away inspired, overwhelmed, and anxious — all at the same time. Thousands of events are getting postponed or cancelled. Our industry is in distress.
After having a few days to reflect on the enormity of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the events industry, I am focused on leading with empathy, authenticity, and clarity. On my red-eye home from Las Vegas, I put together some thoughts about how we can persevere and move forward during this unprecedented time.
First, Take a Moment
While I was tempted to release some form of communication immediately, I realized the importance of taking some time before taking action. Before making a big decision or sending out a communication, take a few moments to reflect and consult with your trusted network. While it is important to act promptly, it is even more important to consider the impact your words can have on your team and clients. Think about your words and actions from every angle.
Even if you don’t have all the answers, it is important to stay connected with your team, your clients, and your partners. Since PartySlate has shifted to a work from home environment, our leadership team and all employees are hosting regular video calls to stay connected and engaged. After our group video conference calls, I make sure to follow up one-on-one with our team leaders to ask three simple questions: How are you holding up? How can I help you? What changes — big or small — should we be making right now to adapt to this new climate? With active listening and brainstorming, together you will come up with better business decisions.
Share Insights and Learnings
I have never been prouder to be part of the events industry. I have seen this community of hardworking, passionate professionals lift each other up and support each other during tough times. In Las Vegas last week, I saw top caterers and venues sharing how they are shifting their cancelation policies due to coronavirus. I sat on a panel where leading event planners discussed their approach to reassuring clients, while also sharing their concerns. We can all learn from one another, especially given the uncharted territory we now face.
Organize and Prioritize
Working from home allows the opportunity to focus “on” the business, rather than our primary mode of being “in” the business. I have heard from so many of you that there isn’t enough time in the day to work on digital business-building initiatives. These are tasks that are normally deprioritized. During this time of social distancing, consider the following business-building initiatives you can work on from home and that set you up to hit the ground running once this crisis has been resolved.
1. Clean up your contacts
Take the time to research your network online and update your contact information. Your network is a huge asset that you have worked hard to build. Make sure you have the correct email addresses for your customers, business partners, and prospects. This is also a great time to reconnect with others when they, too, are feeling isolated.
2. Master LinkedIn
Yes, Instagram is our number one social platform for the events industry, but don’t underestimate LinkedIn for its networking and publishing powers. Update your professional headshot, create a strong polished profile, add people who you know to your network, and most importantly, share content that is relevant.
3. Get your photos organized
Many of you have told me that you will now take some time to organize and archive your photo portfolio. Your photos are marketing gold, and being able to easily find, access, and publish the right photos at the right time is critical for social media, third-party platforms, and submitting to publications.
4. Organize your videos
The same technique above for photo organization applies to your videos. Video is a powerful marketing tool that can help people better understand your brand and its differentiators. It’s also an extremely powerful SEO tool.
5. Publish your work with a point of view
While your events calendar may be light for the next few months, now is the time to leverage the event photos you already have. You may now have the time to tell the story behind these events and share your perspective on what made them so memorable. Write detailed event descriptions, which is another opportunity to incorporate SEO keywords to help more people find you.
Our team at PartySlate is committed to helping event professionals during this challenging time. To help you efficiently conquer some of these brand-building initiatives, I will be hosting a series of webinars in the coming days and weeks to tackle one or more of these topics.
I do think it is important to take a step back and keep things in perspective for our teams and our clients. Although the immediate future is uncertain, we have all weathered tough storms in the past. As leaders, it’s important to calm fears and keep lines of communication open. One thing I can share by looking at our PartySlate data: people are still planning events and looking for event partners. Website traffic to PartySlate.com continues to grow, and our social media engagement remains high.
What I can commit to you is that PartySlate will continue to celebrate the creativity, hard work, and passion of this industry and help you wherever we can. We will remain a place for event inspiration, because now is a time when we all need to feel inspired. When gatherings resume (and they will), so will events — and people will long to be together like never before.
Please email me directly with your questions, feedback, or suggestions.
Julie Roth Novack
PartySlate CEO & Co-Founder