News and Insights

How B2B Journalists Feel About Virtual Events

March 25, 2021

Without doubt, virtual shows and online events have changed the B2B landscape in 2020 and will certainly play an important role in 2021 and beyond. The findings below reveal how B2B editors feel about this event format, reflecting responses from a dedicated FINN Partners pulse survey*.

o   81% of respondents attended a virtual exhibition or event in 2020 with the main goal being to gain industry news, followed by maintaining long-standing relationships (24%).

o   50% of editors had no preference regarding who holds the event – a company or an established trade show organizer. However, if they had to choose, they would rather go for the company event (35%).

o   Among the features they found best in terms of virtual events attended, virtual conferences and panel discussions (60%) were top of the list, followed by newsroom functionality (28%) and exhibitors’ virtual booths (24%).

“The virtual event allowed me to attend both the seminar sessions as well as do my normal interviews. Normally I am rushing from stand to stand doing interviews and I miss the seminars – but with virtual events I have been able to do both – and the interviews have been better because everyone is less rushed.” – IT editor (UK) 

  • Almost 3 out of 4 editors miss the personal interaction of a physical show (70%), followed by live product demonstrations (27%).
  • For some participants it was problematic not to be able to collect sample products they might wish to write about, while for others virtual events lacked the possibility to have ad hoc meetings.
  • Timesaving benefits were named among one of the key pros for the virtual shows. Travel time is fully eliminated, making it logical for publishing houses to allocate less time for staff digital event participation (50%). 23% of respondents, however, mentioned that they spent comparable amount of time at the virtual show as at past physical events.
  • When attending a digital event, 52% of editors stayed for longer than 60 minutes.
  • Looking forward, 68% of respondents are planning to attend digital events in 2021.
  • Outside of virtual events, editors rely on emails (88%) to get first-hand information about innovations, new products, company updates and other news for their editorial features. Their least favorite channels to stay informed are mail (4%) and phone (12%).

Overall, editors have adapted quickly to the shift to digital events. Despite time saving benefits they look forward to meeting industry experts in person and hope to do so from Summer/Autumn 2021.

Our team at FINN has been very involved in helping B2B companies transform digitally, with new tools to more effectively engage with prospects and editors during virtual shows. To learn more, our blog “Will virtual trade shows be the new norm? Strategy for 2021 Trade Shows” provides more detailed information.

*Methodology: FINN Partners gathered 26 editors’ responses via Survey Monkey between December 2020 and January 2021