Until March 2020, the FT’s conference and events arm FT Live had focused entirely on physical events. Then Covid-19 hit. Within days, FT Live made a dramatic switch to virtual. Creating a webinar called ‘The Global Economic Emergency’, the team turned it around in just four days – and racked up nearly 8,000 registrants, over half of whom watched it live. The team quickly realised the size of the opportunity. Not only would digital events enable the FT to share expertise with a wide audience at a time of great uncertainty; they would also be a game-changer for sponsoring clients, enabling them to reach even more of the world’s decision-makers. With these objectives in mind, they set to work on launching a new series of online events called Digital Dialogues.
The FT Live team worked fast. Just a few weeks into the first UK lockdown, they launched the Digital Dialogues series. Digital Dialogues are free-to-view live video conversations that bring FT journalists and global experts together to discuss the big challenges facing economies, businesses and societies, including the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic. They explore how businesses and investors in particular can prepare for a post-Covid world. Each event is supported by a single sponsor, and the themes are designed to be topical while allowing clients to reach strategically important, targeted audiences.
FT Live went from around 100 attendees at the average physical event, to sharing an average of 800 high-quality contacts per event with sponsoring clients. Clients saw that they could exchange in-person networking at small local events for the advantages of larger, more global audiences and increased opportunities for lead generation. Digital events also see higher interaction with client products through downloadable content that provides a further data and engagement opportunity