Michael Phelps and Kane Brown are leading this month’s virtual event revolution

How PR Week and Pandora are embracing the virtual.

Michael Phelps and Kane Brown are leading this month’s virtual event revolution | DeviceDaily.com

The definition of a live event has been shifted 180 degrees since March. Thanks to COVID, it rarely means in-person events these days.

While this has meant a decrease or end to onsite gate revenue, many platforms, organizations and corporate entities are taking the opportunity to add value for virtual event attendees and sponsors. 

PR Week goes virtually live with Michael Phelps

One of the earliest events to be postponed was the highly anticipated PR Week Awards in New York City, commonly known as the Oscars of the public relations industry. The early spring event planned to honor Olympian swimmer and 28-time medal winner Michael Phelps as the 2020 Communicator of the Year for his “It’s OK to not be OK” campaign about mental health awareness. 

Instead of the usual traditional awards gala, PR Week has had to transform to a virtual event on July 30 at 4 p.m. ET, and instead of honoring Phelps during the ceremony, his participation has been transformed to a more interactive Q & A session to open the awards night. The night also includes a networking reception and a post-event webcast. 

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” said PR Week Vice President Steve Barrett, who is leading the Q & A session with Phelps. “I believe we will now continue to have virtual elements to all of our events, even when we return to events in a physical environment.” 

With tickets priced at $199/each, the high profile event has garnered attention from well over two dozen major sponsors, including:

Fortune 500 companies:

  • Aflac
  • Chevron
  • General Motors
  • Prudential 

Public Relations firms:

  • Allison + Partners
  • Edelman
  • Fleishman Hillard
  • Ketchum

“Our business model is typically a mixture of sponsorship and delegate fees,” said Barrett. “So we have pivoted and set up a series of new virtual events to cater to our audiences’ desire to convene, learn and network.” 

Panda’s virtual concert with Kane Brown

On July 28 at 8 p.m. ET, Pandora, the largest streaming audio provider in the U.S., will be kicking off the next generation of its live concert series, for the virtual era. 

Kane Brown, the hottest new country music superstar, already experiencing crossover success on the pop charts, is headlining the first concert, intended to bring added value to both concert goers and sponsors. 

The attendee will experience:

  • BBQ pre-game: Kingsford charcoal is sending fans recipes for at-home grilling ahead of Brown’s performance so they can pre-game before the concert;
  • Promo apparel: Persil Proclean laundry detergent is commemorating the kick-off concert by gifting fans an exclusive Kane Brown t-shirt that fans can redeem through a branded code on Brown’s website ; 
  • Cremo, a men’s grooming company, will give listeners backstage access to Brown by sponsoring his Pandora Story.

The Pandora Story follows artists’ performances where they weave in personal commentary between songs. Brown will be debuting his song, “Take Me Home” as well as having Pandora’s cameras follow him to tornado-ravaged East Nashville, Tennessee, where his new song “Worldwide Beautiful” inspired the painting of a mural. The evening will also feature Brown narrating an animated short film, based on a real-life experience. 

“I love unexpected collaborations and finding new ways to bring my fans music, especially while we aren’t able to tour on the road,” said Brown. “Teaming up with Pandora creates an amazing virtual performance with surprises for the fans.” 

Fans can also expect celebrity cameos from the entertainment industry, as the evening will be hosted by Storme Warren of The Highway channel on SiriusXM. Fans will be able to tune in to the recordings of the virtual performances on Pandora and select concerts will also be re-broadcast on SiriusXM. 

To further support artists, Pandora acquired merchandise that would have been sold on tour and customized it to create limited-edition fan giveaways available the night of the shows on a first-come, first-served basis. 

“Our role is to give entertainers a platform to reach their fans in new and meaningful ways while filling the void for listeners who want to connect with each other and the artists they love,” said Denise Karkos, Chief Marketing Officer at Sirius XM and Pandora. “We are placing advertisers at key consumer touch points before, during and after the events to enable these special connections.” 

Pandora’s virtual tool-kit

Pandora is using Maestro for the virtual event experiences and Looped for the virtual meet-and-greets with artists. Event attendees access the concerts by creating a profile at Live.Pandora.com, and are encouraged to RSVP ahead of time. 

The site is home to the virtual performances, and fosters the relationship between artists, brands and fans by including a virtual photo booth, artists trivia games, and the opportunity to receive exclusive merchandise. It is also home to the storytelling content and live chat functionality before and during the concerts. 

“Pandora is working with brands to bring fan activities and content together in unique ways to help complement and enhance the at-home viewing experience,” said Pandora Senior Director of Experiential Marketing Alison Guerrero. “Virtual events require the same amount of additional resources to produce with all the experiential components needed to fit within that digital space. With many virtual events in the ecosystem already, we are focusing on offering unique, top of the line, and unexpected content from the artist and digital activations to keep engagement high.” 

This story first appeared on Search Engine Land.


About The Author

Rodric J. Bradford is the Editor of MarTech Today and has worked in the marketing technology industry as both a journalist and corporate project manager. Prior to joining MarTech Today Bradford served as Convention and Technology Beat Reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Business Press publication and worked as Technology Reporter for Global Gaming Business, the world’s largest casino publication. In the corporate world Bradford has served as Technology Project Manager for CNA, Cigna, General Dynamics and Philip Morris. Bradford is an alumnus of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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