THE worst thing any business can do in 2021 is to blindly go back to what they did before, when delivering in-person business events.

That’s the view of Mark Masters, owner of Poole-based consultancy We Are The Media and the marketing and media training and learning community You Are The Media.

He said: “There is now a real opportunity for those companies who have delivered online initiatives in 2020 to find a balance for in-person events when restrictions are lifted.

“To me, offline magnifies a sense of the social, shared company while the online, digital space magnifies shared learning and working towards a common goal together. Companies can adjust and deliver something much stronger.”

Since March, You Are The Media Online has brought in guests from all over the world for monthly Zoom shows. Before then, events had been held at Shelley Theatre, including the annual Daily Echo-backed You Are The Media Conference.

Mr Masters said: “Many of us have found ourselves ‘online networking’ this year. The problem has been organisers lifting what they did offline and replicating it online.

“Sitting on one side of the screen whilst a stranger pitches to you against the background of a branded banner stand is not good. When this becomes assimilated as the ‘norm’ we lose our appetite to join in online, however much we may crave the company of others.”

2021 will see the introduction of a hybrid event, the You Are The Media Month Of Learning, in April. Each week will focus on a particular topic that will help businesses find momentum and create content to help build their audience and industry credibility.

Mr Masters said: “The plan is for everyone at the start of each week to spend time with the topic leader. Teachers include Mark Schaefer and Sonja Nisson.

“Study groups will reconvene a few days later, either online or hopefully offline, before meeting up again to draw conclusions and wrap up at the end of each week. At the end of the YATM Month Of Learning, we will have a graduation. I’m delighted to be working alongside Bournemouth University as a credible learning platform for people.

“As we move towards 2021 the online and offline spaces will most likely have to work in harmony. Finding and navigating a balanced path between the two will provide both inspiration and opportunity as we address a new future together.”

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