Prior to COVID-19, Newsday was in the process of completing a new state-of-the-art studio with the hopes of expanding their live streaming and virtual event reach. Unfortunately, the pandemic postponed the construction of the new building, but it did propel the organization to launch Newsday LIVE, a series of virtual events.
The first event was held in March, shortly after the news organization shifted to working remotely. At press time, Newsday LIVE has hosted 52 events (this was the original target number for the year) with an average of 5,000 attendees per event. There is no limit to how many people can attend.
The events are 45-minute programs followed by a 15-minute Q&A that cover a variety of topics such as health, education, business, entertainment and more. These topics are arranged under Newsday Live Conversations, Newsday Live Author Series and Newsday Live Music Series. The publication is also working on an upcoming comedy series. At the end of every event, audiences are asked to fill out a survey where they rate the event and share feedback for future topics.
“With Newsday LIVE, the goal is to provide value to our existing subscriber base, target new audiences and provide Long Islanders with access to experts, information and experiences they can’t find anywhere else,” Melissa Carfero, event strategy and development manager, told E&P.
Events are streamed and archived on Newsday’s website. At the moment, events fall under what Newsday calls the “COVID umbrella,” so subscribers and non-subscribers can access the content. The revenue model for these events contains branded content and sponsorship elements.
According to Carfero, topics are driven by the editorial team, who also moderate each of the sessions. Newsday also reviews the questions they receive and results from the surveys distributed at the end of each webinar. For the entertainment events, Carfero and her team utilize insights from industry experts that partner with Newsday.
“As with any new project, initially, there were challenges, but we quickly adapted to streamline the workflow,” Carfero said. “The volume and caliber of the virtual events we’re producing pulls in talent from across the organization and allows for new collaboration that’s really inspired a lot of the growth seen on the production side.”
The organization typically begins planning an event about two weeks prior to its scheduled date. They book guests, build ads and pull the final pieces together. The post-production process includes uploading the video to the archive, notifying people that a new video is available, reviewing the survey responses and reflecting on the questions they received during the event to see if it makes sense to continue the conversation with a follow-up event.
With the success Newsday LIVE has experienced during the pandemic, E&P asked Carfero how they were going to retain audiences post COVID-19.
“We understand and respect that we’re living and working in an extraordinary time and we appreciate that what works today may not work tomorrow,” Carfero said. “That said, we are planning and preparing for the turnaround when the time is right.”