By Jesse Lerman, President and CEO, TelVue Corporation
Congratulations to JAG for wrapping up a fantastic virtual conference for the Eastern Video Expo 2021!
It is never easy to conduct full conferences with a trade show component in a virtual environment, and while the JAG EVE conferences are always a big hit, this year’s was notable. JAG pours its heart and soul into the event to make sure it is well-organized, well-attended by a community that looks out for one another, loaded with great sessions and exhibitors, topped off with creative and fun activities. From live bands, to comedians, magicians, and costume parties, the conference is always full of surprises. You know the JAG conference is on another level if it can get me out of my shell to perform a Hamilton-style rap for Rich’s retirement celebration in his honor. (Retirement you say? I was right when I crooned, “You’ll Be Back”.).
We all wondered, how would JAG pull off a virtual conference with the same level of engagement, collaboration, and fun, especially when we are all fairly Zoomed out anticipating three more days of wall-to-wall Zooms? Could it work? Would it work? Would everyone Zoom in?
From my own and TelVue’s perspective as a vendor member, event sponsor, speaker and exhibitor, the answer is yes! Attendance at scheduled sessions and presentations was even stronger than what we typically see in an in-person conference, when there are often more parallel activity options. Engagement was also strong with many participants sharing questions through chat. I think multi-participant vs. webinar style Zooms might have worked better to try to foster more open dialogue, but the chat worked surprisingly well. One reason why EVE 2021 worked so well as a virtual conference is because of how tightly knit the JAG community is, and how JAG welcomes and includes members and vendors alike to collaborate. Since everyone knows each other so well, virtual collaboration is much easier and everyone is more likely to engage with one another.
It was great to see virtually all of the familiar JAG station members, as well as special guests like J Robertson who always flies in from Hawaii for the conference. This would have ordinarily been a much easier virtual trip for J, had it not been for the 4:30am session time slot! (Bob owes you big time, J!)
Announcing the launch of a new product at a conference is always exciting for a vendor. Showcasing the release of TelVue SmartCaption™ LIVE, for ultra-affordable, fully-automated, live captioning of PEG channels in a virtual presentation slot was different, but still worked well for us, especially because of how well-attended the presentations were.
In theory, 3 days of Virtual Exhibits was a nice idea, but probably did not need to be so long. My feet still wound up hurting somehow. The tradeshow floor experience is much harder to emulate over Zoom, but it was still great to be able to catch up with many of you during those times.
The JAG Awards was a memorable celebration of local producer’s fantastic and creative work that empowers your communities. Congratulations again to all of the nominees and winners, and to Doug Seidel for his well-deserved JAG Recognition Award.
Congrats also go out to the winners of the TelVue give-aways and door prizes. CNET’s Cindy Hahn and EBTV’s Connor Cheung both won iPads. J Robertson and Stephanie Yeager won TelVue CloudCast iOS Mobile Video Apps for their stations to get their channels and programming in the App Store, and Anthony Pagliuco and Michelle Kaufman each won 100 hours of TelVue SmartCaption™ automatic, multi-language closed captioning to make their programing accessible and add caption transcript search to their meetings.
I hope everyone had a great conference, learned a lot, and left with more than a few new tricks up your sleeves! We can’t wait for EVE 2022. Just as hybrid meetings are likely here to stay, we wonder, will EVE 2022 become hybrid too, combining the best of both virtual and in-person experiences? We know if anyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat, it is JAG!