Networking has always been crucial in building relationships between PR professionals and their clients with the media. However, in the wake of the pandemic, individuals and businesses had to abandon in-person events and adopt a new way of building professional connections—virtual events.
The thing about virtual events is that attendees aren’t in the same physical space. But that doesn’t mean your event will be less successful.
In this article, you’ll learn five unique virtual networking events ideas that will help encourage strong connections between PR pros and your clients, and the media.
1. Speed networking
Speed networking is one of the unique virtual networking events ideas events you should implement. It allows attendees–PR professionals, their clients, and the media–to have multiple one-on-one conversations in a fast-paced and structured environment.
Speed networking pretty much works like speed dating. Participants are divided into pairs and given a set amount of time to introduce themselves and exchange information. When time’s up, participants move on to the next person, allowing them to connect with a wide range of people in short periods.
The structured and timed conversations mean less room for awkward silences and “Zoom fatigue.” The time depends on the size of the group and the time allocated. However, these events typically last for an hour or two and five to 10 minutes for each breakout session.
For successful virtual speed networking events, have a reliable virtual event platform. For instance, Glue Up’s Speed Networking solution has great virtual breakout discussion features that facilitate meaningful conversations.
They include direct messaging capabilities, GIFs, media and location sharing, and a follow-up meeting request. You can even encourage your PR team members, clients, and editors and reporters to share their digital business cards. The card should ideally have all their contact details to encourage attendees to keep in touch after the event.
Finally, ensure event attendees have prior instructions on the event structure. This includes the length of the networking sessions, event content, and the specific participant pairings. You can also send some icebreaker questions. Specify, though, if you want everything in the event off-the-record or not.\
2. Virtual roundtable discussions
Virtual roundtables are one of the best virtual networking events ideas. They bring together small groups of like-minded professionals to discuss a specific topic or issue. In PR, you can host virtual media roundtables to, not just strengthen relationships with the press, but also to get coverage for your client. The material discussed in a virtual roundtable discussion can be used by the media to write articles or create video content.
To implement virtual roundtable discussions effectively, choose a topic or issue that’s news-worthy. For instance, if your client is an SEO expert, they can discuss new SEO trends. This is a news-worthy topic since, well, these are recent trends no one else has talked about.
Next, use video conferencing software, such as Zoom or Skype, and Microsoft Teams. These platforms have chat or polling features to enhance the discussion.
Finally, it’s important to keep the group size small to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate and contribute to the conversation. You can have from four to 15 people in each group. However, the shorter the time allotment, the fewer people there should be in a group.
3. Virtual wine-tasting
You can host a virtual wine-tasting as a thank you for the media who have helped you gain coverage for your events and for your client. A virtual wine-tasting is also an excellent option if you want to gain media coverage for your client if they sell wine. The event allows your client to showcase their products before the media who can, hopefully, also create content around them.
The good thing about this type of virtual event is that it takes place in a relaxing setting. The media who participate are typically sent a selection of the wines before the digital event.
Provide preliminary information on the event so attendees can come prepared to participate. Also, use online platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoho, or Zoom with chat and poll features to enable attendees to interact during the meeting.
4. Virtual game night
Virtual game nights bring together professionals to play games and engage in friendly competition. You have several options to do this. You can get the members of your PR team and the media together in one event or have just members of the media competing against one another.
Just make sure your chosen games encourage conversation, like trivia games, board games, or icebreaker games.
You can use gamification platforms like Spinify or third-party Zoom virtual game nights hosts, as shown below.
It’s also a good idea to have a moderator who ensures the entire event stays on track. Also, incentivize your game night with rewards like gift cards, titles, badges, etc.
5. Virtual happy hour
Looking for unique virtual networking event ideas that allow participants to connect in relaxed environments? How about you host virtual happy hours? During these events, PR professionals and the media, or the media and your clients can interact over drinks and conversation.
You can have participants bring their drinks or you can deliver a drink kit with the help of event planners prior to the event.
During the happy hour, encourage participants to share stories in the chat section. Some of the best online event platforms for virtual happy hours include Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or even Houseparty for small teams.
While traditional virtual networking events still have their place, circumstances sometimes don’t allow them. The good news is that you and your clients can still forge strong relationships with the media through virtual events.
You learned unique virtual networking ideas from this article. They are speed networking, roundtable discussions, wine-tasting, game nights, and happy hours.
Implement them now and you’ll reap the best results.