January 6, 2016

To Web or Not to Web
A common need shared by our Sales and Marketing clients is to deliver promotional speaker programs in a more efficient and effective manner. More specifically, many of our clients are looking to AHM to help them leverage additional speaker program formats. The formats they seek are those that are less expensive than traditional in-person interactions yet still enable them to deliver the same messages to the same target audiences. Furthermore, they want the same adherence to the expected and required compliance and quality standards.
A common response to this client need is to recommend the virtual, web-based speaker program format. Not only is a virtual program often a less expensive option with a greater potential reach, but it has the added value of demonstrating an understanding and appreciation for the demands and time constraints faced by health care professionals. This is an audience with very limited time and often very inflexible schedule who are not as willing and/or able to give up what little time they have to travel to and attend a live promotional speaker event.
What is most interesting to me when I suggest a virtual program format to my clients is that even in this web-driven age, there is a surprising reluctance on the part of many of them, to leverage a web-based platform. They often seem to be uneasy about how a web-based program works and how to use it appropriately. However, I have found that by providing a quick overview of the available options and best practices, I can quickly turn their uneasiness into adoption.
Let’s look at each component of my “quick overview” in more detail.


Available Options
In terms of the available options, it is important to make a distinction between a webcast and a webconference. The terms are often used interchangeably, yet the scope and cost for each is markedly different. While both options are delivered over the web, it is important to understand:

  • A webconference is typically a virtual presentation where slides are delivered over the web and audio is delivered over the telephone. There is usually no visual of the speaker aside from an optional photograph displayed via the platform.
  • A webcast is typically a virtual presentation where audio and/or video are streamed live over the web. There is usually use of webcams, studios, or video crews to broadcast the presenter live via the platform.

When considering the right option for a speaker program, it is important to evaluate the:

  1. Audience — how many people are you targeting and how will they be participating?
  2. Available budget — how much are you willing and able to spend?
  3. Speaker — is your speaker interested in presenting via this format and how comfortable is he or she with the technology?
  4. Program details — how many programs, at what duration, in what locations, and at what time of day?

Often times, when our clients evaluate these options, the, combination of audience reach, modest budget requirements, and speaker or program constraints lead most choose some version of the Webconference option. It is usually the easiest, quickest, and least expensive web-based option to implement.


Best Practices
In terms of best practices for web-based programs, we recommend our clients do the following:
Program Set Up

  1. Identify speakers willing and able to present via the web-based format
  2. Conduct a training with the identified speakers on the web-based platform
  3. Coordinate speaker availability with desired program times and time zones
  4. Arrange web logistics with preferred provider at least 6-8 weeks prior to the program to allow at least 4-6 weeks for program recruitment
  5. Develop an approved invitation that allows for the inclusion of the program access information and potential display of multiple programs via a single invite

Logistics (if programs are being held at a venue)

  1. Secure a venue capable of hosting a web-based program (i.e. it has a private room with a separate phone line and broad band internet)
  2. Arrange appropriate audio-visual support and equipment including: laptop, projector, screen, non-cellular phone (i.e. Polycom™), and Ethernet™ cable (using Wi-Fi or a VPN connection may degrade your experience)
  3. Ensure laptops are equipped with the appropriate browsers and pop-ups are disabled
  4. Perform a system test on your laptop to ensure compatibility with the web software
  5. Conduct a site inspection at the venue

Day of Program

  1. Arrive at your location at least 30 minutes prior to the start time
  2. Set up your AV equipment and/or coordinate with the AV technician
  3. Access the program at least 15 minutes prior to the start time
  4. Close out of all other programs on your computer, before accessing the meeting
  5. Coordinate the timing of the meal service (if out of office) to minimize disruption and distraction during the actual presentation

That’s it! A formula for successful and convenient communication.
In the future, when presented with the decision to “web or not to web,” be sure to: consider the options available; evaluate your audience, budget, speaker, and program needs against those options; and remember the best practices that will help drive your program’s success. Doing so should help the reluctant and uneasy to confidently add virtual, web-based programs as a viable and important part of their promotional program mix.

Contributed by:

Danielle Brose, Senior Account Director, AHM

Danielle is a Senior Account Director with AHM, a role she has held for the last 8 years. During Danielle’s tenure in this role, she has been instrumental in supporting her customers to optimize the success and reach of their promotional speaker programs. Prior to joining AHM, Danielle spent over 5 years in Speaker Bureau Management with Wyeth.