15 minute read

Virtual events: live recruitment Q&A

Last week we ran our third live recruitment marketing Q&A focusing on events and survey data hosted by Vickie Collinge and Dan Stobbs.

Here's what was covered:

Vickie: Hi everyone! Hi Dan!

Welcome everyone who’s joined us. I hope everyone is well. Thank you for coming on board for this week’s live Q&A. Just a quick comment from me, I’m sure if anyone has seen the promo’s we’ve been putting out on social media, it was my colleague Steph King that was going to be joining me on this today, obviously Dan is not Steph but I’m afraid Steph has been pulled away on something else suddenly. So, Dan our Head of Social Media has kindly agreed to join me today and pose some of the questions you’ve been asking us over the last week or so.

If anyone has seen one of these before, we’ve all been taking part in these live Twitter Q&A’s to give everyone in the recruitment industry the opportunity to ask us anything about recruitment marketing, PR, social media – questions that are really at the top of your list at the moment. And we’re answering them so we can give everyone as much support and help as we can during these difficult times.

Dan, you hosted last week’s one. We’ve had a lot of interaction, a lot of engagement, so glad everyone is enjoying it.

live events going virtual

For this week’s particular Q&A because we’ve had so many questions coming in about events and replacing events and surveys, we’ll be doing a bit of an events and surveys focus but that doesn’t mean if you have any other topics you’d like to ask about beyond that that you can’t, please do ask anything. So, if you have any questions post them, tweet them to us, Dan is monitoring social media so he’ll be pulling up any questions people have been asking. You can always @ me @VickieCollinge on Twitter and I can answer questions at a later date if you don’t get a chance to ask them live today. But we have a couple that have come in already don’t we Dan, if you want to kick off with any of those?

Dan: Yeah, sure. So one of the first questions that has come in is,

We’ve had a series of round table events scheduled in for the remainder of the year, should we postpone them indefinitely given what’s going on?

Vickie: Do you know we’ve had this question asked a lot by our clients as well, because of all the journalists and events we work with quite naturally for our job anyway, we’re obviously doing lots of re-planning and re-organising with people for upcoming round tables and various events. And my advice would be, if you have anything planned that has to be postponed, obviously postpone it but don’t necessarily say indefinitely, just say it’s been postponed due to the current climate. Everybody gets that, everyone understands that. But stress the point that we are going to get through this, we are going to see another side of this, so as soon as we are back to business as normal and we are back to being able to host and attend events like roundtables, then it will be re-planned and re-hosted and everyone will be invited to come along again. Just to reassure people that you’re not stopping everything and completely dropping off the radar.

But on the flip side to that, if you are having to postpone any roundtables, or other events, consider how else you could host these because yes, we’re not able to physically meet with each other but there are other ways to network and there are other ways to bring our communities together again. And there’s a lot going on where we’re seeing virtual events and virtual round tables, so if you had one lined up and you had a lot of interest in it. Consider what else you could host instead. Could you do a zoom call, could you do a zoom roundtable event? We’ve seen so many different zoom video meetings taking place, some with quite hilarious results, you might end up having a blooper reel from a round table event. So, consider what else you can do and if you had people already signed up to the roundtable as well, talk to them and ask them if they would be open to a different type of roundtable, while we can’t all be together. There might be people who have got some sort of tech, or some kind of platform and software that you could use on the roundtable as well. I wouldn’t postpone it without replacing it but obviously, anything face to face would have to be postponed given what’s going on at the moment. So, I hope that answers your question.

Dan: Thank you very much Vickie. The second question we’ve had in is:

Which virtual events work best for recruitment firms?

Vickie: That’s quite an open-ended question if I’m honest and the answer is, it will depend. What is the point of your event? What audience are you trying to engage with? How many people are you trying to engage with?

If we consider the roundtable example from the previous question, if it is a round table with a select few people that you were planning to host, say up to 10 people maximum, then a private zoom call would work. You can record these zoom calls, so you can replay any of the audio or share any content afterwards but that would work well for a small group of people.

If you have a larger networking event or conference in mind with a larger opportunity in mind, where you can share content and information with a huge number of people, where you aren’t necessarily looking for everyone to share during the conference, then online webinars can be a good replacement for a conference where you’d have thought leadership and speakers presenting their viewpoints and things like that. That allow people to sit and watch as they would as they would perhaps have done at a conference venue but virtually instead. And the joy with running online webinars to replace these is you can still get people to engage, you can have questions posed to your speakers during online webinars as well. So, you kind of give a nice balance to both the presenters and the audience taking part. The idea of a webinar is people can still get engaged, they can still ask their questions, you can still use a presentation.

If however, the type of event you were looking to host was just a general networking event with brand new people, say for example something like recruitment agency expo, if you were to consider how that can be done virtually. Obviously, the presentations can be done via a webinar. But the networking element is going to be missing. People aren’t going to have the chance to just bump into somebody as they walk past a stand or visit someone’s stand to ask for more information. So, that’s where you will have to be a bit more creative. You can utilise social media, definitely, to help create more of that networking environment that you’d expect from the event that you have to more virtually. So, could you be running a power hour using a particular hashtag for the event? For the people would usually have a stand for example, could they post a brief description of who they are or post a video using the hashtag that’s very dedicated to the virtual event? People can then network and comment and see what other people are saying.

That’s just a couple of ideas on how to make virtual events work best for you. But it will really depend on who your target audience is, what your objective is and what you originally had planned. I’d consider all of those options but we’re here if you have a particular event you are trying to take virtual, we can certainly give advice. I’m hoping that gives some kind of foundations for the three different strands of virtual events that you could get involved in.

Unless you have anything to add to that Dan? I know you’re the social media expert so you might have some additional thoughts.

Dan: I think you’ve nailed it but we’ve got a question come in that relates to social.

What is the best way to promote a virtual event via social?

Dan: I think the best way to promote a virtual event, echoing some of what you said Vickie about if you are trying to do something with a large array of speakers, is really to get them to utilise their own social networks. So, for example, people who are watching this right now have probably seen some of the videos you’ve put out this week Vickie, talking about the Q&A and what we were going to be talking about today. And that works really well for physical and virtual events. Make you’re your speakers are recording 30 second to one minute talking head videos where they discuss what they’re going to be talking about and inviting questions because that works really well, particularly on LinkedIn. And again, if you invite some more questions that feed in to what you’re going to be talking about on the virtual event, it really allows that two way discussion and engagement. So again, the more people who engage, the more people who are going to see it on their own feeds that include their connections engagement.

social media for recruitment

Secondly, make sure you utilise a wide range of content, so not only doing the talking head videos but also social cards with the speaker image and a brief summary of what they’re talking about with time, date and event info. Make sure that you use a branded hashtag for the event, that really allows people to see what is going on specifically to that in the build up to the event and on the day, it allows them to see what the latest is and if you have any updates, if you have any new speakers announced and things like that.

Vickie: Absolutely. I don’t know what your thoughts are Dan but I think realistically, all of that advice is what we would suggest anyway for a physical face-to-face event. And I think that’s one of the key messages for publicising an event is maintain the usual direction you would when it comes to publicising events on social or across any other medium. Because it may be a virtual event but it’s still an event. So we’d definitely recommend you do the same thing on social you would for any conference prior to all this chaos.

Dan: Exactly. Just because an event is taking place in a virtual space doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to promoting it. It is essentially the same as a physical event it just takes place virtually.

Vickie: It’s just that now you can send people a link to where the event is taking place rather than the address.

Dan: Exactly. And leading on from that we’ve got another question regarding social.

Should we encourage live tweeting during a virtual event?

Dan: Yes. I totally agree, as we sort of just summarised really, there’s no real difference apart from the form the event is taking. Live tweeting will still be incredibly effective and particularly it depends on the nature of the virtual event. For example, if you’re doing something like we are right now, a live Twitter and Periscope Q&A then live tweeting is definitely to be encouraged because you haven’t gated the event itself so people will just keep ticking over with more and more questions. And it helps increase your visibility. The more people who are tweeting about it, using your branded hashtag, that will mean more people end up engaging with the virtual event and watching it. So, it only helps spread your visibility across the social platforms.

Vickie: Yeah. Absolutely. Completely agree with that. And you know, I think it’s what I think you’d expect at a live event. The amount of recruitment conferences I’ve been to in the past where they’ve got the live Twitter feed stream on the screen and that’s been hugely valuable to see people who weren’t there at the event sharing comments and sharing tweets and commenting on what other people are sharing, so I think there is huge value in live tweeting throughout events, virtual or otherwise.

Dan: Yeah and I think as well, with virtual events and what’s going on with lockdown at the moment, you can’t have that physical interaction but we can definitely emphasise and really take that online with live tweeting you can have that back and forth conversation and make connections even though we are in an online space instead of physical.

Vickie: Yeah and I suppose that way as well, from an attendees perspective, they get more value as they get exposure to a wider network because of the hashtag that’s being used. And they make new professional connections that they would expect to have made at the event anyway if they attended in person. So, you’re kind of replacing the networking element of live events for them.

Dan: Yes exactly, I agree. And we’ve got another question that’s just come through via DM here on Twitter.

Do you recommend gating a virtual event?

Vickie: My view, and Dan I’ll let you jump in if you disagree, is there are pros and cons to gating content when it comes to these sorts of things, the pro is that you know who is there and get their contact detail, so that’s a number of leads that obviously you get access to but the negative is you are going to get less people attending because it’s not as open and it’s not as easily sort of connectible. So, it’s like what we just talked about a second ago with regard to live tweets and bringing together the networks.

My view would be, if it is a replacement for a big conference you shouldn’t gate it, you should make it open and available to everybody but use things like live tweeting to capture your audience so you know who to engage with.

But if it is a smaller, more niche community event you’re looking to host like a roundtable then obviously it would need to be gated because you want to make sure if you only want 10 – 15 people attending then you need to make sure they are the right 10 - 15 people. You don’t just want every man and his dog to sign up and join in. Would you agree with that Dan?

Dan: Yeah I would. I mean, at the end of the day essentially it just depends on your overall objectives. If you are looking to raise brand awareness then I wouldn’t gate it but if you are looking to engage specific people who are on your CRM for example, then I would probably say then gating might be the best approach. So it does really depend on what objective you want out of it.

Vickie: Absolutely. And I think the thing to try an avoid at the moment, where everyone is kind of using online opportunities to generate more leads, is not to rely too much on gated content where it’s not relevant. You need to still be giving things away for free essentially like you would at a networking event. So, gate what’s needed but look at what you can get away with not gating as well.

Dan: And we’ve just got another question come through on DM, and it says:

We want to offer some training to our furloughed staff, what format would you advise?

Vickie: That would obviously depend on your staff. You know your staff best. There’s a wealth of training available for recruiters at the moment through trade bodies like APSCo who are sharing their training opportunities. And there’s going to be third party suppliers who you can certainly contact and engage with regarding training for your staff.

But in terms of training you want to provide yourself, it will depend on the software you have available and also your staff’s availability. Obviously, if they are furloughed, they can’t work for you but you can train them, but if they have been furloughed because they perhaps have childcare commitments they have to stick to, then you need to consider what format your training is going to be provided in. Because if it’s going to be a one on one set time call to run through training for an hour, it may not work for someone at home on their own with kids for example. I’m speaking from experience here, I have two young kids at home so sometimes it’s not easy to concentrate on an hour-long training video and engage with it as you’d like to but you might like to try and fit it in around your work life balance. So, as an employer, you may need to consider a pre-recorded training session, with as many versions of it recorded as necessary, then that’s accessible to your staff as and when they require it. Then obviously, open up a two-way dialogue, make sure you’ve given them the platform so that they can ask any questions they have, or follow up on the training. But be as flexible as possible just because people will need to fit it in around their time if they’ve been furloughed for whatever reason.

record video training for your staff

And I think as well, ask your staff, talk to your staff, keep them engaged. They might not be working for you directly but they are still your working family. When you communicated the furlough process to them, just let them know there is training available for them through whatever medium that it might be available. Whether it be through a third party or perhaps training, they already had booked anyway as part of their professional development with your business. If you’ve got videos recorded or assessment papers that you would have used over the coming year, feel free to have that information available and set up for them and perhaps consider a resources hub available only for your staff.

I mean I’ve been talking about staff directly here but if you think about the recruitment industry as a whole, there’ve been so many organisations and trade bodies and individuals creating hubs of information that’s going to benefit businesses and individuals alike. So, having a hub of information could be beneficial. But it’s just basically about communicating what you need, and having as much information available as possible for staff who have been furloughed but do want to keep in with the recruitment industry and keep up to date with what’s going on. Have that information available for them in video format so they can watch it whenever they want, in written format so they can read it whenever they can, but have that platform for dialogue open as well.

Dan: You’ve made some really good points there Vickie and I think as well you’ve emphasised the aspects of flexibility and having it available in different content formats is really important and makes it so much more accessible for people so they can look at it when they want in the content format that suits them. We’re aware at BlueSky that people learn differently, some are visual learners, some like to read, having different content formats really allows them to learn at their own pace while they’re on furlough and having that flexibility, so yeah that’s really good.

We’ve got another question come in, I know for this Q&A it was going to be on virtual events but also inviting questions on what people can do with regards to survey data. And we’ve got a question on that.

We have a lot of fresh survey data about sentiment in the current climate, what should we do with it?

Vickie: Fantastic. Share it first and foremost. I for one would love to see it.

If you have any data that is pertinent to the current climate, the current sentiment, the current environment, feelings, and anything else with the coronavirus pandemic at the moment, there is huge appetite for that information.

Not just from your audiences and PR professionals like me too but from journalists beyond your current networks. Because if you think about it, we’re in unprecedented times. Everything is unknown to us, so any data we have that shows what’s going on, what the trends are in the market, is going to be hugely valuable to businesses of all shapes and sizes and to their hiring plans and then obviously to recruiters as well.

So, if you have data that you’ve generated, you need to be pushing it out and sharing it far and wide. There can be a trap an we’ve seen this before, where agencies are sharing a wealth of data they are sharing internally and they are hosting on their CRM or emailing round to everyone and thinking ok we’ve done everything we can with this data and they are letting it go to waste if I’m completely honest.

I would recommend posting the full results of any surveys, if it’s a really comprehensive one then think about having a document on your website that ha the full details of the survey that is gated so that people have to give you their information to access the full survey results but then share snippets elsewhere. Your blog is the perfect platform to take one or two of the pieces of key data that you’ve got and turn it into a wider blog post where you’re outlining what this data means to your target audience and to your business, to the end clients you work with and to the candidates who you work with.

Absolutely push it far and wide across your social media channels. And look at what you can repurpose from that. Don’t just do the one blog and then leave it. As more developments happen in the market place around us and there’s breaking news, think about how you can use the data you have to comment on breaking news.

And crucially, look at what publications can you share this information with. If you have already got an in-house marketing, PR, or comms professional or you are one of those individuals, use that data to engage with journalists across the recruitment press, across the sector press that you’re in and even with nationals. There are employment correspondents, there are business correspondents who really just do want data at the moment because it gives them something concrete to talk about. So, consider where you can push that far and wide.

We use a lot of data for our clients, we work with APSCo, and we have a wealth of data from them that we are sharing regularly with the recruitment audience, with the HR community, the business community, with various sector verticals as well. And across the national newspapers. All I can say is journalists love it. They absolutely lap it up.

If you have it, use it to your advantage absolutely.

Dan: Thank you very much Vickie.

I’d just like to emphasise as well, something with survey data that I think recruitment firms are really starting to see the value in as well like you said is repurpose your content, look at different ways you can present that data. Don’t just post a blog post. Do a nice infographic that really grabs people’s attention when they’re scrolling through their newsfeeds. Stretch and squeeze every last once of ROI out of that piece of work that you’ve put your time and resources into will really put you in good stead.

Vickie: Absolutely. Just to add as well, I know it’s not directly related to the question but it’s something I’ve discussed with so many people over the last few weeks. A survey doesn’t have to necessarily be a comprehensive survey. A one off poll with just one question and a yes / no answer can actually be hugely valuable as long as it’s done very quickly and gives you the real time results of what’s going on in the market on a given day essentially. That can be used on social as well because you can post polls across social media channels. So, consider where you can do snapshot surveys rather than the comprehensive ones as well because that gives you more engagement, that gives you more opportunity to have less of the sales message being pushed out to your audience. And it just gives you the chance to collate some data that’s going to be valuable to your business as well.

Dan: Exactly. I think that’s all the questions we’ve had sent in for today.

Vickie: Okay. Fantastic. Thank you everybody for watching and Dan thank you for joining me at short notice. It’s been really valuable to have you on, particularly for social media questions.

If anyone has any further questions, you can Tweet us or DM us @BlueSkyPR, you can email us or call us. Go to our website, all of our contact details are on there.

We are all still working, we are all still available. Feel free to pick up the phone and call us. It’s quite nice to have a phone call with somebody beyond just talking to my children, so please do call me any time you like.

Thank you all. See you next week for our next live Twitter Q&A.

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