Posted on January 26, 2011 by Mike Lesczinski
I am a big fan of webinars. So much so, that within my first week at my new job with a local college, I pitched the idea of a webinar to promote our School of Business & Technology as part of the American Nuclear Society’s (ANS) Nuclear Science Week. Over the coming weeks, I’ll discuss our engagement strategy “soup to nuts.”
Part one of this case study, DEVELOPING A PLAN, details our strategies and how they can help you to develop a webinar for your business or organization.
1) IDENTIFY A TIMELY AND RELEVANT THEME
The quickest way to deter webinar attendance is to choose a dry topic or use a format with less energy than a college syllabus. Research mainstream and industry news and figure out a way to tie your subject to an emerging news story.
We decided to promote our bachelor’s of science in nuclear engineering technology by presenting a webinar on nuclear energy and its role in our clean energy future, tying the discussion to recent claims by the Chinese that they had developed the technology to reprocess spent nuclear fuel
2) SECURE CREDIBLE PRESENTERS – AND PREP THEM
Having credible panelists is critical. If an attendee is going to take the time to participate in a webinar, you have to be able to provide value – especially if you want to convert attendees into “repeat customers.”
Of course, even the smartest panelist can be thrown off their game if they are put into unfamiliar situations. Prepare each of your presenters prior to the event on the topics that will be addressed, potential questions to consider as well the format of the discussion.
For our webinar, we reached out to our targeted faculty on an individual basis and pitched them on our idea just as if we were trying to score an interview with a reporter. We made sure to secure participation agreements with both scholarly academics as well as experts with practical field experience in the nuclear industry. And we prepped each on what to expect.
3) DETERMINE WHO IS AND WHO ISN’T YOUR AUDIENCE
Webinars by themselves are not newsworthy to the general public, so be smart – and creative – with how you raise awareness. Target niche blogs and utilize social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter to connect directly with the audience with who would find value in your discussion topic.
We used our own college news page, twitter feed and LinkedIn group to raise awareness, targeting a few popular nuclear bloggers to encourage them to invite their readers to check out our panel.
More importantly, knowing that our local media and higher ed industry contacts wouldn’t write on the webinar itself, we used the purpose of the event, to promote our B.S. in Nuclear Engineering Technology (one of only two accredited in the country) to secure interest in future interviews. Being an online school, we came across several reporters who were quite intrigued on what our program could offer potential students. Some whom we’ve dealt with in the past but still didn’t know we offered that area of study.
4) SECURE PARTNERSHIPS
It’s a classic public relations tactic – teaming up with the bigger name. Reach out to partners on a potential collaboration, outlining your vision and the value of a partnership. Find out how they can help in the promotion, even planning, of the event. Be upfront with your expectations and honest about your intentions. This may be the former political operative in me speaking, but organizations enjoy doling out favors. For them, it means finding someone they can call upon at a later date. For you, it’s an opportunity to forge a strategic connection.
During our initial planning we immediately reached out to the ANS the moment the webinar panel was set. We were explicit on our expectations and intentions: this was our chance to promote our school as part of the ANS’s “Nuclear Science Week.”
And the ANS was more than happy to oblige. For them, the effort it took to promote our webinar on their blog, Café Nuclear, post the event on their twitter feed and invite members of the ANS LinkedIn group, was more than offset by our eagerness to set an innovative example for other colleges looking to help ANS raise awareness for nuclear science week.
A week into developing our plan and commencing initial outreach, we had already come out ahead – establishing both a connection with the ANS
Coming Up Next: Part Two of our Webinar Case Study – Research.