Essence hosts virtual wellness event to reach people in lockdown

Dive Brief:

  • Lifestyle media brand Essence livestreamed a free two-day virtual wellness summit last week in a pivot of its events strategy that is a direct response to COVID-19 shutdowns, according to a press release shared with Marketing Dive. Content from the Essence Wellness House summit is still available on the site.
  • The program included a number of wellness professionals sharing insights of physical, emotional and financial wellness. Dr. Patrice A. Harris gave a talk on COVID-19, Faith Hunter led a morning meditation, Gina Neely shared cooking tips and Rosalyn Daniels shared ideas for kid-friendly projects.
  • Essence Communications Inc. worked with creative brand agency, Quantasy + Associates (Q+A) to develop the digital summit. The platform facilitated live Q&As so viewers could virtually participate as they would at an in-person live event. The company used the hashtag #EssenceWellnessHouse for social media promotion.

Dive Insight:

Essence is among the many media companies that rely on events as part of their revenue model. Rather than cancel events while people are staying home during the coronavirus pandemic, the lifestyle media brand chose to create a virtual summit, illustrating how quickly the live events space is changing during the health crisis and pointing to a potential model that other media brands can adopt for maintaining their events schedules as shutdowns continue.

The Essence event included a live Q&A option so viewers could interact with speakers just as they would in real life, underscoring how interactive digital content has become a focus during the health crisis as more businesses and consumers look for ways to stay in touch via digital platforms. For example, HTC shifted to virtual reality for its fifth annual XR industry conference, VIVE, hosting about 2,000 people from over 55 countries across the globe. For the HTC event, speakers created custom avatars to represent their disembodied voice. The four-hour event included presentations and panels from experts in the XR and telecom industries.​

Essence’s virtual event featured cross-disciplinary experts speaking about different wellness topics. The wellness theme was adapted to the current pandemic circumstances with relevant content designed to support people during this difficult time. The content has the potential to live on, particularly if people share it through the event hashtag on social.

The pandemic has forced many shows and events around the globe to cancel as cities undergo shutdowns worldwide. Major events including Mobile World Congress (MWC), SXSW, Google I/O and Facebook’s F8 were canceled over the past month. Trade shows and other live events are an important way for companies to engage customers and build community. As the shutdowns are prolonged, more are likely to consider repositioning events with a virtual presence.

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