Ben Chodor, President, Intrado Digital Media
By Jarrett Banks
Covid-19 changed the way the world meets and communicates. Now, the transition to hybrid events, including virtual and in-person, as the world reopens will be full of complex issues that executives will need to carefully navigate.
Exec Edge sat down with Ben Chodor, President of Intrado Digital Media, to learn more about how the events industry has shifted over the last year, the role of technology and what the future looks like for businesses and events.
Exec Edge: What does Intrado Digital Media do and what types of companies do you work with?
Intrado Digital Media is a provider of world-class digital communications solutions. Our technology provides businesses with everything they need to effectively reach and engage customers, investors, employees and the media. We work with companies of all types and sizes, from challenger brands to Fortune 500 companies. As a true communications partner to the brands that we work with, we’re focused on developing innovative technology that helps our customers deliver high-impact content and events with measurable business impact.
Intrado Digital Media’s innovative suite of technology solutions help marketing, public relations, internal communications, and investor relations professionals connect with their audiences, uncover actionable insights and ultimately, deliver real ROI. Our events platforms can support virtual events, product launches, investor days, marketing webinars/webcasts, employee town halls – every facet of a communications campaign effort. One of our major differentiators is our commitment to analytics and measurement – we want our customers to be able to make better use of data, to measure their success, and improve their communications efforts. Our intelligent technology removes the barriers that have historically stood between communicators and the comprehensive data they need to work more effectively, including content distribution, analytics, and monitoring.
Exec Edge: What are some of the biggest trends that have emerged over the last year in the digital media and communications space?
There are two major trends that we’re seeing heading into 2021 – the first, without a doubt, is that businesses are embracing the ways that technology can be used to redefine what it means to engage audiences. For example, prior to the pandemic – almost every brand used video in a flat, one-way format, and ‘engagement’ was defined as ‘likes’ and ‘comments.’ Consumers have spent the last year getting comfortable with video conferencing – in both their work and personal lives – and their expectations for interaction with brands are much, much higher. We are helping our customers use technology to build meaningful relationships across all stakeholders and content formats – extending the reach of their messaging and driving business impact.
The second largest trend in the space is advancement in the use of data and analytics to measure the value of communications campaigns. Digital media technology is driving this shift because it allows you to measure almost every point of interaction with an audience and correlate it against business KPIs. Data points around how marketing content resonated with stakeholders, how long event attendees stay tuned in to an educational session, visits to an investor relations site or even understanding which journalists are influencing a breaking news story that’s related to your brand – all of this information can ultimately be correlated to showcase overarching brand visibility and public sentiment.
Exec Edge: What about the market for conferences and events – what does 2021 look like for this industry?
2021 will be a transformational year for the conferences and events industry – and I think it will result in meaningful innovation. 2020 took the conference industry by surprise – companies canceled their events or quickly pivoted to a virtual strategy based on necessity. Some of the companies that called us for virtual events in 2020 had never executed a webcast, let alone a large, global user conference with no physical component. Now, there’s no turning back – I believe that the entire industry is going to shift to a hybrid event model (e.g. all physical events will have virtual elements) – it’s here to stay. This year, we can expect to see companies take their virtual event strategy to the next level, making the experience more meaningful for attendees.
My team at Intrado Digital Media spends a lot of time thinking about the future of events – how to deliver a seamless experience, in-person and virtually. Engagement is really important – one of the best parts of attending an event is interaction and the opportunity to shake hands, network, bond, and share a learning experience. When I think about the future of virtual events, I think about how emerging technology can facilitate meaningful interactions at scale. For example, can you use virtual reality to bring a large tradeshow to life? Can artificial intelligence help conference attendees to navigate content and have a better experience? Can event planners use big data as a roadmap to understand how events can be better orchestrated for both physical and virtual guests? Finding the answers to these questions and helping to shape the future of the virtual events industry is motivating and exciting – the possibilities are endless!
Exec Edge: Over the last year – brands and executives have been called to respond to both political and social issues – what role does digital media technology play in helping companies to communicate?
Public relations has never been more important than it is today – in a complex and challenging business environment, communicators will always play an essential role.
The current news cycle is complex and relentless. With a global pandemic, a polarizing political climate and unpredictable markets, brands are challenged to tell their story, communicate their values and beliefs and garner press attention. From responding quickly to breaking news to understanding who is most likely to influence an important story, measuring the impact of a press release against earned and social media outcomes, or building a dynamic and engaging news hub – effective digital media software removes all of the barriers that have historically stood between communicators and the comprehensive data they need to work more effectively. Simply put – our PR software helps PR professionals cut through the noise and use data to communicate more effectively.
Exec Edge: What’s next for Intrado Digital Media?
We’ve been in the digital media and communications space for more than 15 years – and I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time to develop and deliver technology for this industry. We’re witnessing real digital transformation that will result in lasting innovation for brands.
Our focus has and always will be on our clients, our product roadmap and building a best-in-class team – we have some exciting announcements in the pipeline this year across all of our products. As I mentioned, we also believe that the conference industry is at a pivotal moment – and our team is dedicated to driving the future of virtual, particularly for large events.