The Connecticut Sustainable Business Council had been planning a conference on climate change to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in April 2020. Then the Covid-19 crisis hit.
By the end of Q1 during what would have been the height of promotion for the event, even the most environmentally conscious businesses suddenly had to contend with a host of survival issues. Climate change, it seemed, had slipped pretty far down the priorities list. A few months later, the world was starting to succumb to "Zoom Fatigue." By the beginning of Q3 , the question became: would there be any value in pivoting to a virtual format, or should the event be retired until a more opportune time.
For our client and soon-to-be-collaborator, this set of circumstances provided a realistic glimpse into exactly why our climate had become so unstable: the business community had been kicking this can down the road for a long time in favor of a "more opportune time." No more. The Connecticut Sustainable Business Council had already done a fair amount of planning and preparation and wanted to find a way to embrace the current moment, challenges and all.
In order to create new excitement and synergy, Red Rock tried partnering this client with in its portfolio of business member organizations, Conscious Capitalism Connecticut Chapter. By bringing the two together to co-produce this conference, we suspected we would multiply its value its value as a networking vehicle. In addition, the climate-centered program curriculum overlapped neatly with the purpose of both brands. A round of introductions validated out theory that this collaboration was a great match.
We facilitated some branding discussions and agreed that the messaging would designed to reach two distinct customer segments: 1) businesses already engaged in reducing their carbon emissions and other climate change mitigation measures and 2) businesses attracted by the bottom line impacts such as lowered energy costs to begin to dip their toes into some of these patterns and strategies. A large part of the value proposition would be bringing these two segments into contact to learn from and inspire one another.
Next, we created a logo that took the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council's existing mark as a set of graphic building blocks and added some linear elements to suggest amplification while retaining a compatible visual style.
Having recently undertaken major virtual events, Red Rock could offer the confidence gained from experience. We opted for a Zoom webinar format. A combination of live and recorded elements would enable us to overcome any scheduling hurdles and ensure a lively, varied pace to hold the audience.
Even within such a defined niche as climate change, the Connecticut business community offered a wealth of experience and expertise from which to draw. Four tracks across three days attracted over 30 well-qualified speakers, including some big names. Again, the partnership offered more resources than either organization would have been able to gather alone.
We issued weekly Media Advisories with additional information as the program fleshed out. Researching the hometowns of each speaker enabled outreach to specific business communities across Connecticut. A press preview held the day before the conference enabled us to step back and give a birds-eye view of the whole event.
We created the CT Climate Action Business Summit Website as the main hub for all event information including the agenda, session descriptions, speaker list, speaker bios and registration. All attendees have accounts on this site where they were able to access the Zoom webinar and the content package if they chose to purchase it.
We knew gaining followers for new CT Climate Action Business Summit social accounts would be challenging starting from zero, but it was important for us to build a community surrounding the conference. The social accounts became a place for our partnering organizations, speakers and sponsors to share content from and thus attract a following to the new accounts. These platforms provide a place for us to continue sharing resources and the community to continue to connect well beyond the summit. We also used these platforms for targeted paid promotions to attract registrations.
Session recordings and bonus resources from the speakers were made available for a fee after the conference. This bundle of content became a premium offering to new member of both collaborating organizations.
Session recordings and bonus resources from the speakers were made available for a fee after the conference. This bundle of content became a premium offer to new members of both collaborating organizations.
We proved the concept that there is an appetite for this kind of event. Each day of the conference held a viable audience with no significant drop-offs during the sessions.
The speaker pool of high-profile business leaders offered positive feedback with numerous offers to stay in touch and be available for ongoing conversation and future events. This bodes well for growing the event in future years.
A multi-page spread in the Energy issue of the Hartford Business Journal did justice to the partnership.
By the time the conference wrapped up, the Connecticut Sustainable Business Council and Conscious Capitalism Connecticut Chapter were both well positioned to launch recruitment drives to grow their membership.
Both partners have made presentations to each other's Boards and are preparing for a joint Board mixer in December 2020 which will strengthen the Connecticut business community.
From an anonymous attendee.
Thank you to everyone who's organized this summit. With all the 2020 craziness, schedule shifts, and Zoom overload, you've set out to create something useful and important.