Prior to the novel coronavirus, in-person death discussion movements and festivals proliferated across the globe. This pandemic brings mortality issues to top-of-mind awareness. The topic of death and planning ahead for end-of-life is usually avoided. Now people want to learn about it.
However, for public safety, many in-person events are restricted worldwide. Like so many other events impacted by the pandemic, the 4th annual Before I Die New Mexico Festival is going online as a virtual, safe experience.
The four days of death-positive conversations and experiences will take place online, October 30 to November 2, 2020, at www.BeforeIDieNM.com.
This is not the first death discussion event to go virtual due to the pandemic. The Reimagine death discussion festival drew thousands of people to attend in-person events in the San Francisco Bay area and New York City in 2018 and 2019.
The 2020 New York City event pivoted online to become Reimagine: Life, Love & Loss, a virtual festival. Collaborators from around the world held online panel discussions, workshops, Death Cafes, art, theater, comedy and concert events from May to September.
Thousands of people participated. As The Doyenne of Death®, I hosted five events as part of the Reimagine virtual festival. One of the wonderful things about virtual events – geographic distance and room size don’t matter. Hundreds of people participated in my events from all over the world. We discussed how to downsize, the impacts of death by suicide, a day in the life of the business of death, communicating with the dead, and AFTR, a new way for people to stay connected to their deceased loved ones in cemeteries.
During this coronavirus pandemic, there’s a hunger to discuss mortality. We’re feeling the rumble of fear just below our consciousness.
This is the time for end-of-life businesses to speak honestly and directly to a worried public. Here are some tips to host a virtual death discussion event in your community.
Technology is Your Friend
The Zoom platform rocketed into common usage this year. The software allows you to host live video meetings and webinars and record them to show again later. Alternatively, you can reach the public through social media channel platforms such as Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
Incorporate prerecorded videos, such as behind-the-scenes tours and one-on-one interviews. Use YouTube or Vimeo to share videos, either on a widely-accessible or limited-viewing basis.
Videos of past Before I Die New Mexico Festival events and behind-the-scenes tours are being made available on a dedicated playlist page on the festival website.
Use Snappy Titles for Events
Think of eye-catching or humorous titles to encourage people’s participation. Before I Die New Mexico Virtual Festival event titles include:
· “Millennial Morticians with ABQ Brews” (BYOB)
· “Funeral Directors on Working in Coronavirus Hot Spots”
· “Prospects for Medical Aid-in-Dying in New Mexico”
· “Managing Our Loved Ones’ Possessions Before and After They Die”
· “Where the Bodies are Buried” (all about new trends in cemeteries).
To make the most of your headlines, test out your titles with one of these headline analyzers for the most compelling results: CoSchedule.com, Advanced Marketing Institute, and CapitalizeMyTitle.com. Or do an online search for “headline analyzer.”
Charge Something to Attend
In the Reimagine virtual festival events I hosted, most of the events were free. Without an investment, there was an attendance drop-off of about half the registrations. The one event with a nominal charge had a 100% attendance rate. When people have some “skin in the game,” they are more likely to actually show up for a virtual event.
Sponsorships Make It Possible
Sponsorships are key to making a festival happen, whether it’s an in-person or online event. Sponsors can connect with the demographics they want to reach through events. With the Before I Die New Mexico Virtual Festival, sponsors can connect with baby boomers and their millennial children concerned about end-of-life issues.
Leverage Participants’ Social Media
The sponsors and speakers participating in your festival have email lists and social media followings. Encourage them to promote your event to their fans and circles of influence.
As part of the sponsors and speakers’ participation, give them access to a special event. For example, sponsors and speakers for the Before I Die New Mexico Virtual Festival receive guest passes to the Halloween VIP experience. This virtual party includes a package of Day of the Dead goodies delivered to their homes, a “Show & Tales” sharing of the story of a valued object, fun film clips, and a chance to socialize with fellow festival speakers, sponsors, and attendees.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist and The Doyenne of Death®, is a pioneering death educator. She uses humor, funny film clips, and outside-the-box activities to teach about planning ahead for end-of-life. She authored three books on end-of-life issues and coordinates the Before I Die New Mexico Festival. She’s also a Certified Funeral Celebrant and was recognized by Albuquerque Business First with their 2019 Women of Influence Award.