2020: An Eventful Year

Finger food. “Drinks on arrival”. Actual real-life MINGLING. And – if you’re lucky – goody bags. Yes, in-person events have their perks, and we’d be fibbing if we said we didn’t miss them. But online events are bigger. Not in cost, staff members, or food bills. But in audience numbers and reach. Bigger where it matters. They say ‘go big, or go home’, but in 2020 – where offices switched to houses – it appears we did both. 

We asked Events Coordinator Paul to reflect on his highlights from the year, as he explores the pixelated pitfalls and questionable crevices of this new, unknown digital landscape.

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GO BIG AND GO HOME

Because digital events are far easier to attend, they attract more people from more countries and at a higher profile. We were privileged to host Blue Marine Foundation’s Rewilding the Sea conference in June. The conference brought together over 200 people from 16 countries to engage with keynote presentations from world-leading experts.

We also facilitated a three-day exposition for the South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP). This mammoth event was spread across seven themed sessions, each with its own chair, speakers and agenda. It was a huge amount to juggle but truly demonstrated that digital events can cover just as much content as in-person equivalents!

RE-MOTE KEY-NOTE

A huge benefit from the digital event shift has been the ability to reach stakeholders wherever they are for targeted events. The regular All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries meetings that we host have tripled their attendance, but also allowed speakers to present from all over the UK. This has been particularly valuable for working fishers and fishmongers who can be heard without losing out on working days to travel to Westminster. And makes for some spectacular backdrops of speakers dialling in from sea!

BEYOND YOUR WILDEST STREAMS

Hosting events digitally means that when they’re over, they still exist, digitally. Traditional events happen behind closed doors, but the mighty powers of YouTube and Mailchimp enable us to ping out recordings of events to an eager audience, and even livestream them as they happen.

You know that Rewilding The Sea event we mentioned earlier? This was streamed live in addition to the 200 attendees within Zoom, and still sits proudly on Youtube today. It’s been viewed a whopping 3,300 times!

We’ve facilitated The Safety Net report launch, IPNLF launch parties, and Blue Communities’ annual meeting – all of which were recorded and uploaded to their own Youtube channels.

BOSSED IN TRANSLATION

Another innovative advantage of digital events is in reaching across language barriers. An event with the Shellfish Centre Wales gave us an opportunity for live interpretation. The event explored regulatory differences between France and the UK with delegates and speakers in both countries. Allowing presentations, questions, and discussion to seamlessly flow across the two languages was vital.

This wasn’t our only foray into international events; working with CABFISHMAN, a project across five European countries, we facilitated a workshop completely in Spanish.

#KEENMARINE TRAINING

Finally – on a personal note – the events that I’ve enjoyed the most have been training events facilitated by MWC ourselves! Working with partners to share our expertise in all things communications is hugely rewarding, and – errrr, 99% of the time – massively fun too. We’ve been lucky to work with a spectrum of partners, from students to fishers, and looking forward to 2021 it’s something I hope we’re able to do a lot more of.

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December is very much a time for reflection. I’m not going to even start to summarise the ups and downs of 2020, but in January MWC didn’t have an events coordinator. Fast forward 12 months, and we’ve run 36 events with over 3000 attendees from over 40 countries. The resulting impact those events have had on environmental initiatives has been huge, yet the impact on the environment itself has been miniscule.

After an eventful 2020, I’m excited to see what 2021 will bring.