8 Online Event Ideas for News and Media Publishers

8 Online Event Ideas for News and Media Publishers

Run online events effectively and you can keep your website audiences engaged longer, grow loyalty, and increase ad revenue. Learn from these examples.

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Tiago Youssef

Tiago Youssef

March 29, 2022

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Online events for publishers and media outlets are a growing way to engage audiences. Run these events effectively, and you can keep your website audiences engaged longer, grow loyalty, and increase ad revenue.

1) Panel Discussions are Great for Audience Engagement 

  • Who Is It For: people interested in the latest insights in a rapidly changing topic
  • What You Need For This Event: a small group of exciting speakers to share insights.

Industry panels are a well-established concept that many publishers and event organizers have run for years. The key to making them successful is to offer a unique experience. The unique experience can be crafted in several ways: access (i.e. the chance for Q&A with CEOs, executives, journalists), networking (i.e. a small event limited to few people) or new insights. 

Note that industry panels go by various names, including summits and forums. For example, the Atlantic has held health-themed events like People v. Cancer and the Education Summit. You don’t have to limit the event to health content. Bloomberg is offering a Technology Summit in June 2022 that will have virtual and in-person options.

2) Executive Focused Event Branded by News and Media Publishers

  • Who Is It For: executives with a common focus like marketing or finance
  • What You Need For This Event: emphasize exclusivity and quality

That’s one reason why it can be hard to keep growing as an executive. Your direct reports may not always feel comfortable bringing new ideas. Conversely, sharing your leadership difficulties with the CEO or Board is not the right forum. Giving executives a place to connect and learn from direct peers is a smart idea. 

For the best results, we suggest filtering attendees for quality. You might offer free admission but advise attendees that you will verify if the event is appropriate to them before handing out tickets. The CMO Club, organized by Salesforce, has featured guest speakers from General Mills, Instagram, and Virtualware.

3) Hobby / Passion Themed Events bring Audience Engagement

  • Who Is It For: attendees passionate about interest and looking to share their interest
  • What You Need For This Event: a guest speaker with deep knowledge of the field is critical.

Connecting with like-minded people who share your passion for history, wine, literature, gaming, and other subjects is exciting. You may already have a lineup of potential speakers – editors, staff, and contributors with specialized expertise as a publisher. Decanter;, a wine magazine publisher, has offered virtual events with two ticket options: a ticket with a shipment of wine (£195 or $324 US) and a ticket to the virtual event online only (£10 or $17 US).

As the Decanter example shows, passion and hobby-themed events can be structured in various ways. You can make your event more exclusive by offering to ship a unique item to the audience. This could be as simple as a copy of the guest speaker’s book or as rare as autographed memorabilia.

4) Viewing Party is Also a Good Event Idea

  • Who Is It For: participants with a shared interest in video or TV shows
  • What You Need For This Event: offering prizes or exclusive guests are one way to make a viewing party more appealing

It can be tough to find people who share your taste in today’s world of countless streaming services. Publishers can meet this need by organizing a viewing party. For example, Nerdist organized a virtual watch party for the classic movie “The Princess Bride” in 2020. You can use Arena to run your viewing party – just like Gizmoplex did with a classic movie recently.

5) Offer Early Access To Subscribers Will Grow Your Audience 

  • Who Is It For: publishers with well-known award lists and coverage that people look forward to 
  • What You Need For This Event: A significant audience passionate about a specific topic

For many years, the New York Times Book Review has published lists for the year’s best books. Recently, the publisher created an exclusive virtual event based on their list. The New York Times described a 2021 online event in the following terms:

How do editors of The New York Times Book Review choose the annual 10 Best Books list? Which fiction and nonfiction works made the cut, and why? This year, Times subscribers were the first to find out. On the morning of Nov. 30, before the list was published, The Book Review announced this year’s 10 Best Books list in a virtual event just for subscribers.

6) Organize An Event With Focused Demographic

  • Who Is It For: publishers looking to connect with a specific segment of their audience 
  • What You Need For This Event: A compelling virtual event concept that applies to the target demographic

Many publishers and news organizations have large audiences. Attempting to appeal to everyone in a virtual event is difficult, if not impossible. Instead, consider developing an event focused on a specific audience. Forbes organized the “Forbes 50 over 50” event to celebrate people who have achieved success later in life. Publishers can also apply this concept to other demographics like recent college graduates, women, and others.

7) Host A Multi-Part Virtual Event Series

  • Who Is It For: publishers with an audience passionate about reading
  • What You Need For This Event: A high profile author with a new book coming out

New books by well-known authors have a proven track record of attracting fans. The traditional approach to this type of event is to invite the author to read from their book and invite questions from the audience. That’s not the only way.

History Extra, a history magazine in the United Kingdom, recently offered a five-part virtual lecture series called “The Aftermath of World War II, with Keith Lowe.” Attendees can pay to register for a single event or pay to attend all of the lectures. In addition to the event itself,

8) Plan A Week-Long Event

  • Who Is It For: publishers with experience running more extended events. 
  • What You Need For This Event: a significant number of guest speakers.

Some publishers have a track record of organizing multi-day events. The organization has scheduled Future Healthcare Week Asia. This event is a hybrid format – attendees can participate in-person or online. The Economist event features dozens of speakers to fill a multi-day schedule.

Leverage First-Party Data with CDP 

Collecting data about what your audience likes with Arena customer data platform is vital. With a CDP in place, you’ll know which of your content sparks the highest engagement across all of your assets – articles, videos and events. Unlike surveys, Arena CDP is seamless and doesn’t require time from your users. Click here to start your Arena CDP free trial.

Make More Out of Every Online Event

The online event examples above illustrate the wide range of possibilities publishers can offer. 

Whether you feature your journalists, invite external guests or take different approaches, excellent event content is the foundation of a successful event. 

As you offer more events, you’ll see the importance of interaction. Your audience wants the ability to ask questions and connect with others. Use Arena Live Chat – it takes less than 10 minutes to install – to transform your online event into a community experience.

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