For events organiser Verve, the ban on mass gatherings and new social distancing rules could have been a death knell. Instead, within a week it reinvented itself as a virtual virtuoso.
The events industry was among the first to be impacted by Covid-19 restrictions. Overnight companies had to cancel conferences, exhibitions, seminars and a host of other critical face-to-face meetings with partners and customers.
“We had an edge,” explains Lisa Carmody, Senior Account Manager with the 70-strong agency. “We didn’t have to go looking for digital experts because we had a digital team in house. So, we all started working together, sharing information with each other, so that we could enable clients to create in a virtual space what they would previously have had on the ground.”
With clients such as Diageo and Google, Verve has offices in Dublin and London as well as a hub in Amsterdam. It was founded 28 years ago by Managing Director Ronan Traynor. Today it is a multi-disciplinary team of creatives, story tellers and techies along with the all-important producers and directors who make things happen. “All our teams work together wherever they are based,” says Lisa. “We were a Zoom company long before Covid 19 came along.”
To bring its new digital event offering to life, Verve set about creating a fully functional ‘green studio’ in its Dublin office. This allows clients to record or stream live professional quality video, while maintaining social distancing rules. The new studio’s first outing was a ‘town hall’ hosted by Traynor and streamed live to Verve employees, who were, by then, working from home. “It was a great opportunity to show us how the studio worked and what we could use it for,” says Lisa.
Verve’s quick thinking met the biggest challenge its clients were facing; how to keep in contact with clients, partners and employees when face-to-face meetings were no longer on the cards. “Brands need to stay in touch with customers and there is no other option but to go online. We were inundated with clients wanting their website updated or adapted to allow people to buy online. The need for social media strategies escalated dramatically. No matter what’s going on in the world, brands still have plans, maybe even a new product to launch. Okay, their plans have skewed a little bit, but things still need to happen,” explains Lisa.
While social media and online events allow brands to remain visible, the tone and style of messaging must be carefully thought through. “The messaging has to be aware of and respectful to where clients are at these days,” says Lisa. But, she warns, if a brand goes quiet now, there could be consequences further down the line.
Internal communication is the other big challenge for organisations in this time of widespread home working. Whether it is keeping employees engaged, providing them as much as possible with the social interaction they get from being physically in the office with colleagues, or communicating important corporate information, companies need to reach out to their remote employees. Some of Verve’s clients have used its green room to host online social events such as quizzes, others for town halls or brain-storming events. “The requirements are vast, but the important thing is that we can help companies achieve their aims,” says Lisa.
Verve works with organisations in all sectors from charities, retailers, FMCGs, financial services, pharma and tech companies. It has hosted real-life and online events across Europe and has also worked with US clients.
“We’re all adapting to different ways of working, different ways of collaborating. There’ll be new problems every day and probably that will last for a few months yet,” says Lisa. “But for us, as a company, we’re working together now in a way we might never have in a ‘business as usual’ world. It’s been hugely energising and exciting.”