PRSA Cincinnati Goes Virtual to Get More Virtual!


The Cincinnati May 27 Zoom event Re-imagining Live Events with the Use of Video represents all the best about our ECD members: It answered the call for member engagement by delivering a timely topic through inter-chapter cooperation, innovative delivery, and a generosity of shared resources.  Learn more in this ECD conversation with event organizer Bridget Kochersperger, PRSA Cincinnati Chapter Vice President of Programming.

PRSA Cincinnati May 27 Zoom Event:  Re-imagining Live Events with the Use of Video

Zoom presenter Molly Berrens is the owner of the video production company Spotted Yeti Media. She talks to non-profits about turning fundraisers into virtual events. With COVID-10 she has tweaked her services to include corporate events, conference events, and training presentations.

Her genius is for combining pre-corded videos with live components. For example, an event might stage live watch parties reacting to pre-recorded speeches.

Bridget: “The biggest thing she touched on were live charitable events. How you can still meet those fundraising goals, have something that still feels special to people, and gave us some examples of what she’s worked on the last couple months. One was for the Cincinnati Opera, one for Xavier University, and another for Learning Grove, an education non-profit that turned their gala into a week-long campaign with live and prerecorded elements. You could donate throughout the whole week. Ultimately the organizers said it was their most profitable fundraiser ever. I’m sure a part of it was because of very low overhead cost.”

Deciding to go virtual:

“It’s tricky.  When this all started no one was sure how long it was going to last. But right off the bat we had to cancel our monthly event for April.  It was supposed to be a program about working with influencers. But working with influencers was going to change with this too, so it would no longer be relevant.”

The PRSA Cincinnati-Columbus Connection:

“We saw that everybody is talking about shared resources.  So, we shared a few programs with Columbus and our chapter. Columbus hosted a program about personal self-care in the age of COVID.

“We came up with May events and opened a premium Zoom account.  That came together pretty quickly. We’ve been in quarantine for two months now, and we’ve asked, are people still hungry for Zoom events?”

Scoring Molly and Spotted Yeti for the Meeting:

“I used to work for PR agency that shared a building with Spotted Yeti – both female-owned – and I kept in touch with her. She shared posts about a presentation with a non-profit leader on LinkedIn so I reached out to her. She did all the hard work I just shared the opportunity. She did it as a free event.

“She is truly very, very talented. Hopefully she will get a few phone calls out of it.”

Making if a free event:

“Everybody is struggling – financially or with how to fit in their roles. We wanted to give them this free resource. We don’t often do that, even for our members, but it felt like it was the right time to do it.”

What members learned from Molly:

“It wasn’t just focused on fundraising, but that is a common, annual event most people have. She talked about conferences and training. She had a poll about industries and touched on different types of events like award ceremonies.  At the start of the event we asked the question: “What type of events are you looking to potentially take virtual this year?” There were five options (non-profit fundraisers, award ceremonies, theatrical and arts events, trade shows, and conferences) plus “other.” The least interest was in taking theater and arts online.

Molly started the presentation by introducing the audience to her company and their concepts. She defined their approach to “Smart Video” saying, “When you think about our smart devices it all starts with end user data.”

She outlined the Spotted Yeti process of “Discover, Tell Your Story, Make an Impact, Review and Improve,” and their “full script to screen” production.  She focused her talk to chapter audience on “pivoting to video” when transitioning to virtual events.

She asked, are we starting your event with a video? Where does the emotional piece fit best in the presentation? She talked about taking advantage of the benefits of going virtual: the opportunity to increase your audience, decrease your budget, expand the event timeline and gather more data.

She put particular emphasis on a live program, beginning with the question does it need to be live? Is it streaming live, or pre-recorded and released at a certain time to give a recorded-live feel.  How it’s made could be truly live or sudo-live.

Bridgit: “We had a pretty good rate of engagement in this event. We capped it at 100 because our Zoom account only allows 100 participants. We showed 70 active participants.  That’s a lot of folks. That is more than we usually have. Offhand, it was probably the best attended event we’ve had in 10 years. Granted it was also free and we did more outreach with our neighbor chapter.”

What’s on the Virtual Landscape Horizon:

“Next we’re doing a diversity program.  It’s taking place in two parts on June 16 and June 23. It was planned in advance (of the death of George Floyd in police custody and nationwide protests). The email went out May 27 before everything happened, but it’s more important than ever.

“The first part is Implicit Bias Training, and the second is Cultural Sensitivity during COVID-19.  We’ll keep going in July with it, offering reciprocal membership rates. Someone from Columbus can get our chapter rate. We did the last one for free because we thought it was the right thing to do. 

“Our Blacksmith awards are in traditionally in November but are still up in the air.  We have the date and venue locked down but obviously everything is still unsure. Molly has really great ideas on how to take award ceremonies virtual.”

Virtual Newsgathering in time of COVID-19:

“We believe we will cancel our media event – one of our signature events – originally scheduled for October and push it to the spring. We talked about having it as a virtual event, but we weren’t sure how it would work.

“More organization are going to find balance in it (virtual news gathering). It’s more convenient for media to attend and more people are sitting and listening.”

Beyond COVID:19 – Still Virtual?

“I think a lot of our programs are going to be virtual, but people in our organization are craving interaction and we will want to get back to in-person invents. But maybe it will be a mixture. We have our social and networking events. I think they will come back primarily in-person.”

Final Thoughts:

“I think we came away from it (Reimagining Live Events with the Use of Video) thinking we had better attendance than expected. We were very happy about that, and we had board members who said it was great, timely content.

“The biggest take away for me is that people still want this content and are hungry for this content. We’re still uncertain about how the rest of the year will be – no one truly know what happen, we could end up in isolation again in November – but everybody is having to look outside the box for their clients and their organizations.”

Bridget Kochersperger

[email protected]

PRSA Cincinnati Chapter Vice President of Programming

Regional Marketing and Communication Manager for Ulmer and Berne LLT

Molly Berrens

Spotted Yeti Media/823 Scott St. Covington, KY

[email protected]