Education Week Wins SIPAward With a Profitable Virtual Event

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Editor's note: This is the first of an ongoing series profiling the 2017 SIPAward winners.

With Education Week's editorially-driven ESSA Summit 2017, Matthew Cibellis, managing director, live & virtual events, and his staff proved that there is a place for virtual events and they can drive revenue. This earned Education Week a 1st place SIPAward for Best Success Story.

"ESSA Summit 2017 was a moderate-lift event that shows long-term potential for high revenue returns and the ability to replicate success easily and frequently, depending on editorial time and availability," Cibellis wrote.

"The key driver behind this new event format was to integrate editorial content we usually keep only on the page and bring it to a new interactive platform enabling our reporters to directly interface on a critical topic with our readers via this virtual summit. The summit's various concurrent sessions on different areas of educator interest affected by the nation's new K-12 law enabled stakeholders to tune into the reporter-driven feedback in the area of greatest interest to them."

Here are some important takeaways:

Free registration opened about 6 weeks out, and 4,273 people registered with 1,410 actually attending. The revenue—$35,000—came from sponsorships. "More revenue could have been gained had we launched sooner and provided a longer lead time for the sales team," Cibellis wrote.

The day of the event, staff gathered on-site in a single room set up by the IT staff. Reporters were equipped to ensure that their information about the new law was communicated effectively and without technical interruptions.

The event screen had a "main lobby"—the home page—where everything happened off of. About ¾ of that screen featured Editorial Topic Booths—such as Assessments, Teacher Professional Development, and ESSA: The Implications for Education Companies—and Sponsor Booths that you could enter. On the left, there were sponsor logos, accompanying videos—including a welcome video for the 4-hour afternoon event—and the agenda showing key highlights.

Pop-up notifications alerted attendees about ways to engage and where to find different content at different times. The Topic Booths included bios of the speakers, videos from speakers and staff, Education Week articles on that topic and a sponsor's resource tab where attendees could visit and engage in one-on-one discussions.

More than 500 people visited the Assessments Topic Booth. The Discussion Feed on the bottom of the booth contained 229 comments or threads. Interactions took place both prompted by the moderators and inter-attendee.

Their chief research librarian assisted with any logistical questions about ESSA, serving as a fact-checker for the reporting team. The production team served as the operators of the technical details behind the Brazen platform that was used. Photographs from the day of the event were pushed out via social media. The live and virtual events staff promoted the event before and while it was happening.

A live webinar was featured on the day and is now archived.

At the end of the day a live stream was embedded directly into the platform featuring Editorial Week reporters giving key takeaways from the day. What a great way to build the personas and rapport of the Editorial Week staff!

Costs were few, except for staff time and the rental of the platform (which they use for Education Week's online job fairs). They paid for a nice lunch for the reporters on the day-of—a bit less than paying for a lunch for 1,410.

The event provided sponsors terrifically qualified leads (narrowing down the interest of each attendee into very specific categories of interest).

The event created a unique and meaningful interaction between Education Week reporters and their readers on a topic of great interest. It also promoted awareness of Education Week-branded paid products directly to the target demographics within their readership.

"Together, this was an inter-departmental effort that brought together many teams that do not normally work together," Cibellis wrote, "and generated meaningful, direct touch points with subscribers and audience who did not regularly read our publication."

Congratulations to Matthew Cibellis and Education Week for this truly innovative event.

Ronn Are you subscribed to the SIPAlert Daily?
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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…