• Kirk Dorn

Getting Your Message Out—Effectively—On Zoom

Ceisler Media Senior VP Kirk Dorn explains how virtual town halls & news conferences can prove more efficient than in-person events


One positive development emerging from the pandemic—at least from the standpoint of many businesses and organizations—is the Zoom news conference.

While these may be frustrating for reporters hoping to ask multiple questions or dig deep, they allow the host to control the message, and select who gets called on and who gets follow-ups. They don’t provide the visuals an in-person news conference can offer, but the virtual news conference still allows you to show charts, photos or other images that help amplify the message.


We recently coordinated a virtual news conference for Cheyney University with speakers appearing from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and places in between, rather than asking them all to converge in Harrisburg for the presentation. The event was well-attended by the media and generated more coverage than we would have received from an in-person event.


In running virtual news conferences for our clients, we have also discovered that live, virtual events are an effective tool for communicating to employees.


For example, our client, Housing Authority of Baltimore City (HABC), recently enacted a mandatory COVID vaccination policy, giving employees until September 1st to comply. Leadership decided on the policy after only about 30 percent of HABC employees showed proof of vaccination.


To ensure that all employees got their questions answered, my Ceisler Media colleague Alison Burdo worked with HABC to stage a virtual event featuring a panel of experts. Yes, we did get a few off-the-wall questions, including one about whether the vaccine contained a microchip (it does not, but your cell phone does, so Big Brother can still find you), but overall, it proved to be an informative and worthwhile endeavor, all designed to encourage unvaccinated employees to attend a clinic HABC was to hold two weeks later.


For an organization like HABC, which has staffers in multiple locations, the most important feature of a virtual internal event is that everyone can participate, even from their phones. And by holding the event during the workday—in effect paying people to attend—you incentivize them to participate.


Most people don’t enjoy large staff meetings, (OK, I admit, I hate them!) but when a critical policy that impacts employees is the subject, most will want to join and possibly ask questions, and some will offer valuable opinions. The topic doesn’t have to be a vaccine mandate.


A small, in-house communications department may find it overwhelming to coordinate these virtual meetings—with a large audience and several speakers at different locations. That is why we at Ceisler Media offer the service for clients.


Next time you have an important message for your employees, and panel members in more than one spot, consider this virtual town hall. It takes a little more time and preparation, but it works far more effectively than a memo. Just watch out for that microchip.

Kirk Dorn is a Senior Vice President at Ceisler Media's Philadelphia office.

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