Ask the Expert: How has the effects of COVID-19 had an impact on the conferencing media landscape?

Emma Broadhurst

Emma Broadhurst

Business Development Officer at MEETinLEEDS

When it comes to the Conference & Events Industry, Conference News acts as a key platform to get up to speed on the latest industry news, dive into its thought-provoking features, and simply act as the voice for the industry in the conferencing media landscape.

As the country’s leading conference publication, we were keen to speak with its Editor, Martin Fullard, to discuss his thoughts on how COVID-19 has impacted the news agenda, both on a national level and for the industry, and what his thoughts for the future are.

How has the effects of COVID-19 had an impact on the conferencing media landscape, and altered your news agenda?

The events industry has been hit very hard, there is no burying the head in the sand here. However, it has arguably forced businesses to reassess themselves, across all aspects (venues, agencies, etc.). The news agenda has changed at pace, along with the news. It has required that I abandon the traditional sort of features and news, for now, and we have joined the national discussion. What I mean is that we have gone from talking to our audience about best practice and what’s about, but how to keep their businesses alive. People are searching for answers that at the moment don’t exist, so all we can do is help them build a picture of a very complex situation. However, green shoots of business are starting to emerge, so I am now finding that I am able to balance more normal news alongside the serious business.

What has been the biggest challenge from a media perspective?

The biggest challenge has been to get the events industry on the national news agenda. I have made some progress with this over BBC News and LBC, but there is still much more work to be done. In fact, I urge you to look out for the May issue of Conference News, our cover story addresses how the national media will need the events industry to survive, so some recognition of this £70bn industry wouldn’t go amiss.

How do you see things returning?

I am trying to refrain from making predictions for the sake of making predictions at the moment. However, I think it is logical to assume that we will see internal events/communications happen first, mainly in the corporate sector, as business maps out how to rebuild. Following that it is likely external conferences and partner/supplier meetings will follow. I fear – and this is only an opinion as there are no facts – that exhibitions will find it the hardest to bounce back as a lot of major venues may be hospitals until the end of the year.

The team at MEETinLEEDS, and I am sure many other across the industry, would like to thank Martin and the team at ConferenceNews for their continued insights into the challenges facing the industry. I think we can all agree Martin has been a true advocate of the events industry, helping us steer through these unique and unprecedented times.

We will be chatting to ConferenceLeeds tomorrow about how events across Leeds have adapted during COVID-19.