Live, digital or hybrid? Stop thinking inside the box!

© eBay Open / Photographer: Patricia Kalisch
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30. Mar 2022 •• Comment •• 4 min read

Hybrid events are a big trend that could well hold the key to the live communication sector’s future. We're naturally also discussing this, as well as the next generation of brand experiences in terms of: What formats will be relevant in the future? What components do we need? What things work in the analogue world and in the digital world?

Behind all these pragmatic questions is an even more important one: How can we combine interactive elements with the latest technology to create a future brand experience that is genuinely engaging? Another related question is: What do we still have to do to make the hybrid event vision a reality?

Let’s have more creativity and less discussion on event formats – a commentary by Christoph Kirst.

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“Let’s dispense with familiar formats and meaningless phrases every time we tackle a new project. The only thing we have to focus on is creating inspiring brand experiences – both physical and digital.”

— Christoph Kirst, CSO insglück

Hybrid events are not a format. They are a vague idea.

They are often described as a new event format – easy to employ, reproduce and sell. Behind this is the understandable desire for security and an attempt to provide a simple answer to the complexities of our time. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There is no fixed format for hybrid events. In fact, they are more of a vague notion of how people will be meeting in the future.

Discussing event formats isn’t the answer

Rather than discussing ‘ready-made’ event formats that limit our horizons we should erase the concept of (clear-cut) formats from our mental vocabulary and open our minds to new ideas. Let’s think in terms of experiences, objectives and tasks – and talk about that!

We believe that to keep pace with live communication developments and encourage rather than inhibit innovation, we have to think outside the box. Instead of throwing misleading terms backwards and forwards, we should be asking ourselves: What will it take to design and implement the brand experience of the future?

1. Think solution, not format

We have to stop thinking in terms of format and focus on communicating objectives and content. This is evolving us into consultants who help our clients to develop the right channels, concepts and solutions for their communication objectives.

2. Be honest and budget for more expenditure

A hybrid event will always need a bigger budget than a pure analogue or digital event. In simple terms, it costs more because it’s basically two events. Two events that are connected but have two different target audiences with different needs.

3. Think simple

Sometimes, it only takes a few small tweaks to optimise the experience for both target audiences. For example, we reduced streaming latency to almost zero for a hybrid kick-off event so that the digital participants could interact with their colleagues at the location and benefit from a real-time emotional involvement in the event.

4. Promote new skills and talents

Listen to young team members. They are digital natives and virtual experience experts. It’s also important to expand the agency skill set. Our service portfolio already includes scenography and architecture, communications/ graphic/ motion design, digital strategy and UX design.

5. Encourage interdisciplinary collaboration

No agency can integrate all the necessary skills under one roof. Hybrid events can only be created with a strong network of partners. Even on the client side the event department is dependent on the social media and IT teams.

6. State-of-the-art technology

Technologies offer us amazing opportunities to encourage interaction, and to communicate content and messages. Yet they should never be deployed for their own sake or simply used as a central experience.

7. Courage

We are all on a learning path. Experimentation in recent years has resulted in a whole host of exciting event experiences. We have to keep this curiosity alive. It is essential to the creation of smart new solutions!

Christoph Kirst, CSO insglück / Photograper: Stefan Wieland
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“And it will ensure we can continue to do what distinguishes us as agencies: connect people with brands and create space for experiences. Whether an event is live, digital or hybrid, the only thing that matters is that it is creative, sustainable and inspiring.”

— Christoph Kirst, CSO insglück