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“Hybrid will be the way forward for a long time”, says DRPG’s Dagmar Mackett

DRPG’s Dagmar Mackett chats to M&IT’s Holly Patrick about the rebound of live events and her role as a global development director in a time when the coronavirus pandemic has halted everything.

Following DRPG’s expansion into Germany with the opening of an office in Cologne in February 2020, German-born Mackett had planned to spend a lot of time there, building client relationships and establishing the DRPG brand.

Then Covid-19 struck, and all plans were put on hold. But Mackett refocused her efforts to find the silver linings.

“At the beginning, like everybody else, I started to navel-gaze a little bit, asking myself ‘what am I doing now?’

“It started with some obvious things, we built international collateral, so we have a German website now. But very soon I realised, and of course, in times of crisis, International comms doesn’t become less important, if anything it becomes more important. Suddenly there was an increased need for international communications, and not just for us or our clients, but also for international organisations.

“I started to network like crazy building relationships, talking about DRPG and the way we work, and finding things out about markets, companies and people in the industry. By the end of last year, I can honestly say that we’ve built that market. At the start of the first lockdown, I wouldn’t necessarily say I would have expected that.”

We want to avoid creating this cloak of exclusivity around live events

Looking at the future of meetings and events, Mackett echoes the industry’s sentiment that an online element will be essential to every event going forward, making the market hybrid heavy.

“I think the big thing is that hybrid is going to be the way forward for a long time.

“It was interesting to hear the view from the Far East, because, of course, they were hit by Covid really early on, so they went into lockdown early. They managed to contain the virus and then they started opening again. They were actually doing live events on a much smaller scale, but they were doing them again. Of course, Covid has resurfaced in the Far East so they have suddenly discovered virtual, and they are now saying that they believe the way forward is hybrid.”

By definition, a hybrid event is a tradeshow, conference,  seminar, workshop or other meeting that combines a live in-person event with a virtual online component. But how do you decide who’s invited to be in the room?

“With external events, that’s difficult. With internal events, as an employer, you have to find your own way of doing it. I know of a very large gym company that does regular internal events and they have around 30 people in the room. The way they are selecting them is based on a key topic and the people in the room have been chosen based on relevance for that topic.

“Externally, if it’s a public event of sorts, it’s really difficult. We want to avoid creating this cloak of exclusivity around live events if suddenly you can only have 200 people in the room. So does that mean for a public event, that it’s the 200 people that can afford to pay a lot of money to buy their way in?

“Companies need to think about this in terms of their corporate responsibility. So are they giving free tickets away to deserving people and organisations, where otherwise they may be charged? That’s a key point.”

And when live events do finally bounce back, Mackett expects emotions to be high.

“Those first few months when we can have live events again, they will be really precious and I think it’s going to be emotional. It’s going to be an incredibly exciting time and kind of a renaissance.

“They will come back, but differently.”

 

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