Navigating COVID-19

This was inevitable.  Here we are again to talk about COVID-19 (the coronavirus that originated in Wuhan in mid-December).  While the major city and province-wide quarantines implemented by China bought the world some time to prepare, the virus is now on the loose worldwide, leading to quarantines, school closures and widespread market panic.  For those of you keeping score, we’re only 2 full months in 2020.  We suggest calling this one a wash and fast-fowarding to 2021.

As members of the events industry, it should come as no surprise to all of you that threat of COVID-19 has had a major impact on planned public activities.  San Francisco and Los Angeles have declared states of emergency.  Seattle, Chicago, and New York are all experiencing widescale outbreaks.  As we head into the Spring and Summer months when things in the industry typically start to kick in, we expect demand for public events will dwindle and demand for streaming event services to increase.

This week, we’d like to offer all of you a brief rundown on industry reactions to the virus – who is postponing their events and who is staying the course?  How will the events industry (and Decibel, by extension) change to accommodate this pandemic in the long term?

The tech industry has been the most proactive with regards to shuttering planned events.  In just the past week, Facebook canceled both their Global Marketing Summit in San Francisco, as well as their F8 developer conference in San Jose.  The massive global tech conference Mobile World Congress was to be held in Barcelona but was similarly canceled due to widescale outbreak in Spain.  The game developer conference GDC has been postponed to the summer, and even Google has even canceled their own internal conferences amid fears of a global pandemic.

There do remain several events that are pushing ahead as planned.  Even despite an outbreak in Seattle, Emerald City Comic Conwill go on as scheduled.  However, as Washington state has just declared a state of emergency, we suspect this is subject to change at any time.

We still don’t know what’s happening with SXSW which is set to take place from March 13th to the 22nd.  While there have been public calls to cancel Austin’s annual social tech and entertainment industry extravaganza, organizers have stated they are pushing ahead with the event with support from Austin Public Health and will be implementing public health measures to protect their presenters and attendees.

We know this virus isn’t going to disappear any time soon, but life has to go on and companies will need to keep their brands and workforces stable as it runs its course.  There are events solutions here, and in light of public health concerns we believe this could be the best time to look towards events companies with live streaming chops.  Adobe, for example, has canceled all public events for the Las Vegas Adobe Summit (March 29th – April 2nd) and is instead changing the event into a fully livestreamed, online experience.  Events companies like Decibel can provide a full suite of online services in digital promotion, live streaming, and broadcasting to make sure events can go on as planned while still protecting the health and safety of their participants.  Just reach out.

Whether you’re planning or attending an event in spite of the crisis, we’d like to offer you some resources to make sure you stay safe.  Eventscouncil.org has this fantastic FAQ that is constantly being updated with the latest info on how to stay safe in public and tips on how to handle live events under these circumstances.  It’s very comprehensive.  We suggest you visit that page frequently for updates if you plan to be out and about.

If you’re looking for more general information on how to prep for the virus and stay safe, look no further than the CDC.  You won’t find a lot of doomy spin here, just a comprehensive rundown on current outbreaks and solid information on how to keep yourself healthy. Additionally, we’ve put together our own sheet for our event colleagues with some tips to help make your events safer. Practice Safe Stage! Print it out and share it! Also, we’d love to updated it with any additional good ideas you would like to add. (Note: We’re not medical doctors. Our list is a compilation of ideas we think are good practice.)

Stay safe and get in touch with us if you need an 11th hour solution to move your event online!

David Sonntag
david@decibelmanagement.com
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