Turning event pain into digital gain

Spring Harvest infographic

How did Spring Harvest change its venue-dependent family event into an online success – in less than four weeks?

Spring Harvest Home rocketed the event’s YouTube subscriber base from 1500 to 33,000 in just a few weeks. It racked up over a million views and reached its widest audience in 40 years. But Spring Harvest should have been a multi-site festival until the Covid-19 struck. Essential Event Management were at the heart of the rapid transformation.

Spring Harvest is one of the UK’s leading Christian events. Hosted at Butlin’s Minehead and Skegness resorts plus the Harrogate International Centre, the Easter holiday event attracts up to 20,000 guests annually.

Tent contractors’ trucks were loaded and ready when Spring Harvest decided to pull all the events, just ahead of announcements from Butlin’s that their resorts would close. That was March 19th, three weeks before the Easter weekend in the last few days before lockdown.

Spring Harvest’s leadership and management teams put their heads together and decided to work with partner Essential Event Management to deliver Spring Harvest Home, an online version of the event.

“We knew that speakers, children’s workers, musicians and worship leaders had done their preparations” says Abby Guinness, Spring Harvest’s Head of Programme. “We just needed to get from there to an online event that was coherent, wide-reaching, technically sound and in line with our quality ethos.”

That is where Essential Event Management (EEM) added value.  

They worked together to break down the project into key stages: communicating with over 100 presenters and briefing them on how to create consistent presentations; developing Spring Harvest’s low-key YouTube channel to host over 150 videos; creating fresh branding, motion graphics and rolling out a marketing campaign; plus the immense task of checking, editing and uploading every single video.

Spring Harvest Home ran from Monday to Friday of the week after Easter and contained a mix of premiere items (released at a specific time), live discussions, pre-recorded video and a daily live-streamed evening event hosted by Abby, linking various recorded items.

“The live stream was a rather surreal experience” she comments. “EEM turned our Boardroom into a studio with me up front, one technician at the other end and a social media person tucked away in a corner. It was anything but crowded.”

To avoid the “front room look” for broadcasts from the Boardroom, EEM’s technician used a simple but effective combination of video lights into a large softbox, pixel battens to give movement and a wash of the back drape to separate Abby from the backdrop.

Every individual video was topped and tailed with branded images and the same branding used for lower-third name tagging to ensure consistency. The varied audio peaks were levelled out so that listeners did not need to adjust volume for each new item.

“Spring Harvest acquired more YouTube subscribers than it would have had guests at all its residential events. The top ten videos were each viewed over 20,000 times – far more people than could have been packed into their plenary venues on site” explains EEM’s Luke Martin.

Abby Guinness sums up: “Our virtual guests viewed event videos over a million times. We built the brand and created demand for our 2021 residential event. An international audience saw us like never before; we have clear and detailed analytics on our audience; social media engagement has never been higher; this is all way beyond our expectations. EEM should be proud of what they have helped us to achieve.”

Since that time EEM have gone on to deliver multiple online events for a number of clients, have developed their own online events portal. In preparation for a time where we can meet back together all of our systems now are designed to have the maximum effect for your audience online as well as being ready to sync with a hybrid event. Allowing communities made up of delegates from the digital and physical spaces to be as one.

To hear more about what we have delivered, what we are planning and how we can maximise your online event presence please contact me directly at: [email protected] or message me via LinkedIn.

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