Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, MediaPost has had to reschedule three summits. We spoke with Steve Smith, Editorial Director for Events, about what he and his team have been up to since the lockdown on March 16.
MP: It's been a crazy couple of weeks for you and the rest of the folks in Events and Marketing. Are you able to stay in touch with MediaPost members and some of the show speakers?
Smith: We've been busy repurposing and keeping the content from upcoming shows in the editorial mix. We launched a newsletter, Brand Insider, which involves interviewing a number of the speakers we had planned to have at some of the shows that have been postponed and to which some are still coming. To a person, I'm discovering the different ways this lockdown and crisis are impacting them. Their stories are fascinating.
We're using the newsletter to keep speakers and members connected with each other and to keep them informed. And we're previewing things that they'll be talking about at the postponed shows.
MP: Are the show agendas the same as the ones you and Lisa [Singer, Event Editorial Manager] put together for the spring?
Smith: No. Lisa and I are going back and re-engineering agendas with this experience in mind. We want to include things that people are learning in dealing with the crisis. Also, everybody will have been in the same position so we'll want to talk about what changes are permanent.
We scheduled these shows to take place in what we hope will be part of the recovery period. None of us knows exactly what's going to happen but we're planning so we're ready when America goes back to work.
These events are platforms where brands will share what they experienced, how they responded, how they pivoted. One of the things -- if it all happens and it's safe -- these three shows moving forward into the summer are perfect for reflecting on this crisis. Each involves pieces of the digital world that were directly radically impacted by this.
MP: What do you expect to see at the TV & Video Insider Summit?
Smith: Obviously, the story is about streaming. There's been an amazing exploding in streaming. On the media side, and I've written about this in Brand Insider, people are already talking about the explosion of inventory, especially in the digital channels like digital video and OTT. We'll be talking about the ways in which brands are using these channels to capture that massive audience.
And we'll look into how this has changed the whole concept of what a day looks like. Day-parting is a whole different concept.
MP: How about the Email Insider Summit. We know that email has been at the front of brands' communications. What can we expect to learn about in Deer Valley?
Smith: Email has been the main lifeline between brands and customers, yes. The pressure on email marketers is remarkable. At best, email marketers talk about how to satisfy parts of their companies that want to talk to consumers by email without burning out the channel as well as consumers.
Now there is more pressure on the email channel as the key, safest, and most direct way to talk to customers. I'm going to be fascinated to hear the stories that come out of it, the ways it was managed, how they discovered ways to stress-test channels. Somehow, we'll be discovering things we didn't know about; ways their consumers were relying on their in-boxes to understand how companies they relied on were adjusting.
MP: Finally, the Brand Insider D2C show in Santa Barbara, California. What's that looking like?
Smith: The Direct-to-Consumer show agenda pretty much writes itself. D2C are brands built from the ground up for exactly the economy we've fallen back into. They have figured out how to create companies and brands and satisfy consumers' needs without physical contact. These companies have discovered that, although many are enjoying tremendous bursts in sales, they have the additional challenge of production and supply chain disruption. And, of course, everybody has the same problem: how to do it with a staff that can't come to work?
We'll be hearing what these brands have discovered about their consumers, themselves and the attitude and trust consumers have for them as they are stress-tested under these circumstances. Take the digital native channel. Some people I've already spoken to include Jimmy Wojtila from Vitamix who found out content really was king. They didn't just serve product but they became a trusted source of comfort content.
And Josh Margulies at the Jacksonville Jaguars, again, a brand using content, celebrity, and having their players reading children's stories to kids at home. There are some fantastic stories.
I'm looking forward to redirecting some of this agenda to accommodate these new experiences that lend a whole new dimension to these topics.