Like many brands, Create & Cultivate had planned its event schedule for the first half of 2020 before Covid-19 began to spread throughout the U.S. The online career advice platform and business event series for women entrepreneurs, which produces about 40 summits annually, was even able to host its first large-scale event of the year in late February in Los Angeles.
But once the pandemic wiped out the company’s events slate for Q2 and beyond—including a summit in Austin in March and a New York beauty summit in May—the brand was forced to figure out how to transform into a fully digital events business to engage fans with timely, informative content and keep a core revenue stream open.
“In early March, we knew we had to start doing events online. We couldn’t just double down on being a media business,” said Jaclyn Johnson, CEO and founder of Create & Cultivate. “We’re all digital all the time right now.”
Create & Cultivate also had to decide if and how it could keep Mastercard as a partner—the two brands had entered a yearlong partnership for 2020. The brand worked with Mastercard to develop Money Moves, a ticketed digital summit of financial conversations, which took place on May 2 from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. PST on Create & Cultivate’s website.
Based on attendance, the company is viewing Money Moves as a success. The brand reported the event drew nearly 7,000 ticket holders (more than 500 tickets were sold the day of the summit), and 11,000 people visited the site in general on Saturday.
In an interview with Adweek, Johnson discussed how her team worked with Mastercard to develop the event programming and layout, the strategy for integrating sponsors, tactics to keep attendees tuned in all day at home and where the temporary digital events business will go from here.
Keeping the content and speakers relevant
The summit’s theme focused on what entrepreneurs can do to keep their small businesses afloat during a pandemic, brought to life with a mix of live and prerecorded keynotes and panels, workshops, mentorship discussions and a pitch competition—sessions one would expect at an IRL Create & Cultivate event.
Speakers for keynote conversations included ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia, Beis founder Shay Mitchell, Queer Eye star and interior designer Bobby Berk and comedian Chelsea Handler. “Roundtable” discussions with reps from multiple brands—including Shake Shack and Rebecca Minkoff—focused on the state of being a business owner right now, how brands are pivoting their marketing strategies and dollars, and how to prepare financially for the future.
Johnson and her team based the programming on what they thought their community would be most concerned about in the current moment, and speakers who could provide diverse insight on how they’re handling their work-from-home situations.
“Everyone is worried about money right now. We wanted to come together for a day of financial conversations around questions our community had and, frankly, our employees had,” Johnson said. “We had people talk about shutting down their stores or furloughing employees, but we didn’t want it to be all doom and gloom. These conversations are tough, but we also want to talk about what’s next.”
An event highlight was a live pitch competition, in which small businesses in the food, service or experiential industries could apply to compete for a $10,000 grant funded by event ticket proceeds. At the end of the summit, three finalists pitched their businesses to five judges who had participated in the earlier sessions. The panel awarded the grant to Carolina Contreras of Miss Rizzo’s Inc., a New York salon that caters to curly hair.
Emphasizing live and elevating prerecorded sessions
A major consideration for virtual event producers is whether to deliver live or prerecorded keynotes and panels, and the Money Moves summit offered both. All of the panels were broadcast or recorded using Zoom, and the pre-recorded panels were uploaded via Vimeo for attendees to view whenever they chose to.
For those mainly interested in the live sessions, the top of the event landing page listed when each event would occur.
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