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Elevated Event, Enhanced Engagement: Wheaton College’s HDI Summit Unites a Global Community

Wheaton College’s 2nd Annual Spiritual First Aid Summit:
March 11, 2021

Wheaton College’s HDI Summit Unites a Global Community
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The event

  • 1 day, 8 hours
  • 29 presenters
  • 28 featured partners and sponsors

The success

  • 5,448 unique custom registrations
  • 17,359+ page views and counting
  • 800+ clicks for the Virtual Book Fair

The challenge

A complex event with an international audience—in need of an elevated approach to virtual engagement.

The solution

World-class production tools and a stellar support team invested in the event’s success.

The impact

A powerful, interactive summit that connected community across the globe.

Making a difference—with a different digital approach

Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI) is a faith-based academic disaster research center with a mission to help the church prepare and care for global disasters. In 2020, HDI launched their first Spiritual First Aid Summit—an online event to help Christian leaders provide spiritual, emotional, and practical care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Spring 2021 approached—and the ongoing effects of the pandemic continued to reverberate worldwide—the team was determined to make an even bigger impact. They just needed a platform that could rise to the challenge.

During the pandemic, our team (like so many others) had to rethink the ways we connect with our stakeholders. Working with Brandlive changed our thoughts about digital events.

-Christa Cordova, M.Div., Marketing & Communications Leader at HDI

ISO a next-level production partner

Christa Cordova, M.Div., Marketing & Communications Leader at HDI, explained, “In 2020, we hosted pre-recorded content on a static website.” But HDI was eager to shine a brighter light on their expert speakers and engage their audience more deeply. “This year, we wanted to build a strong sense of community around our online event,” Cordova said.

After evaluating five options, HDI saw how Brandlive could bring their vision to life. “The Brandlive platform provided the integrated environment we needed in an easy-to-customize format.” With the right virtual environment, Cordova and the HDI team were confident that the power of community would follow.

The Spiritual First Aid Summit event page was designed to match its visual brand.
The Spiritual First Aid Summit event page was designed to match its visual brand.

Challenges Solved

  1. Eight hours of sticking power

    To HDI’s delight, engagement was the order of the day—all day long. “We expected people to come and go throughout the day,” says Cordova, “but many stayed for the entire 8-hour event.”

    What kept them tuned in? World-class speakers and content—presented in a fully branded, immersive environment. “We wanted to provide a more interactive and robust conference experience,” Cordova reflected, “and Brandlive allowed us to offer an experience that more closely mimicked what attendees would find in an onsite conference environment.”

  2. An inviting environment

    “We wanted a seamless experience for our summit attendees,” said Cordova, “with easy-to-navigate content spaces and plenty of options to add event spaces.”

    HDI leveraged Brandlive features like breakout sessions, the chat module, and the production power of Greenroom for a polished production value that made the entire guest experience seamless. “We wanted our event attendees to have a positive digital experience,” noted Cordova, “and the Brandlive platform kept people engaged in our speaker sessions and breakouts.”

  3. White-glove production support

    Running a smooth show with multiple components seemed daunting at first. “During the pandemic, our team (like so many others) had to rethink the ways we connect with our stakeholders,” Cordova pointed out. “Pivoting to a virtual event with a mix of pre-recorded and live streaming content required us to seek partners to help run the technical components of a complicated show.”

    That’s where Brandlive’s unparallelled support came in. “On the day of our event, our Brandlive Greenroom producers kept our show running smoothly the entire day, with no technical mishaps or hiccups.” Even more importantly, HDI found a true partner in the Brandlive team, from planning through execution. As Cordova reflected, “They were as invested in our event’s success as we were—and that really came across in how they worked with us.”

Our Brandlive Greenroom producers kept our show running smoothly the entire day, with no technical mishaps or hiccups. They were as invested in our event's success as we were—and that really came across in how they worked with us.

-Christa Cordova, M.Div., Marketing & Communications Leader at HDI

Big Wins

  1. Meaningful community engagement

    Creating genuine connections was HDI’s core goal—and by leveraging a wide variety of Brandlive’s features, the summit truly brought people together.

    “Our entire event team really enjoyed seeing a sense of community develop in the event chat space,” Cordova said. “Moderators loved connecting with attendees, but we also saw attendees interact with and support each other.”

    And HDI kept the connection going with take-away content to foster ongoing engagement with the organization’s mission. “We used the modules in Brandlive’s platform to offer resource downloads and a virtual book table with an event sponsor.” That book table yielded over 800 clicks from attendees—a level of engagement that exceeded HDI’s expectations.

  2. A truly global reach

    With a mission to make a difference in a worldwide pandemic, HDI knew their community had to extend across the globe. “We expanded our global reach from approximately 60 countries in 2020 to more than 100 in 2021,” said Cordova.

    Cordova explained that finding an event partner who could handle their growth goals was a top priority. “We wanted to work with an event partner that could scale up with us—and Brandlive is definitely that partner.”

  3. A world of possibilities awaits

    The success of the summit opened HDI’s eyes to the exciting opportunities to be found on the virtual stage. “During the pandemic, our team (like so many others) had to rethink the ways we connect with our stakeholders,” Cordova explained. “Working with Brandlive changed our thoughts about digital events.”

    The HDI team is planning to leverage the power of virtual to expand their conception of events in the future. “We are really impressed by the high-quality experience we were able to provide through the Brandlive platform,” Cordova said. “As we consider plans for an onsite Spiritual First Aid conference, we look forward to incorporating a parallel digital event that continues to allow us to expand our global event reach.”

As we consider plans for an onsite Spiritual First Aid conference, we look forward to incorporating a parallel digital event that continues to allow us to expand our global event reach.

-Christa Cordova, M.Div., Marketing & Communications Leader at HDI

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