31 May 2020 Events

Visual Media Conference prepares for hybrid future

The Visual Media Conference has already been postponed. Now it is responding to the ongoing pandemic by offering online and offline options.

The BPIF’s Visual Media Conference will become a hybrid event when it takes place in September. The Leeds conference was postponed from its original slot at the Rose Bowl because of the lockdown.

However, concerns about passing on the infection will persist and delegates may be reluctant to attend, whatever the state of government regulations. In recognition of this, the Visual Media Conference will be presented as both an online event and staged as a conventional conference with supporting exhibition.

This was previewed on Friday with presentations on YouTube with digital backdrops created by design students rather than the book shelf or digital wall paper backgrounds that everyone has become accustomed to thanks to online conversations. This style will be retained for the September event.

Last week it enabled presentations from Known Unknowns founder James Sommerville in Atlanta, Charles Jarrold in Hampshire, Robert McClements in Yorkshire and Institute of Directors CEO Jonathan Geldart to appear as if in the same location.

The rearranged event will retain the Fake it or Make it theme. “It seems even more relevant today,” says McClements, who launched the first VSM conference seven years ago and has been the driving force behind the conference since. It has always pulled together trends in technology beyond print and engaged with an audience in brands, agencies and students. It has made a heady combination of experience and experimentation in subjects.

“But we didn’t expect to be part of that experimentation,” says McClement. “This is going to be a hybrid event, on the one hand a real gathering with an exhibition and also a live stream of the sessions and a virtual event.”

Sommerville, a Yorkshireman who started a design business with the backing of the Prince’s Trust, had accepted an invitation to be head of design at Coca Cola before starting the new agency.

Geldart has been an adventurer before becoming head of the IoD and has three legs to a presentation that will draw on these explorations to find lessons for business. First as, Do you know where you’re going? As there is a 600 mile difference between the geographic north pole and the magnetic north both pole. It calls upon data, skills and the map to get there. Like polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, he advises that recruitment should be based on attitude ahead of qualifications.. “People with the right attitude can do anything and can achieve amazing things,” he says.

That might apply to McClements. It might have been easy to pull the plug on the Visual Media Conference for 2020 amid the the uncertainty about how the easing of lockdown will progress. Pulling this off will qualify as one of the amazing things.

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The Visual Media Conference will take place in Leeds and in cyberspace following the postponement of the show from earlier in the year.

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