Digital Event Strategist Spotlight: Melissa Patruno, DES, Independent Event Producer

With a vision and passion to embrace digital experience, Melissa Patruno became certified as a Digital Event Strategist in August. Upon completing the certification course, Patruno immediately implemented what she learned and produced a successful digital event. Hear Melissa on what she loved about the program. Tell us a little bit about what you do and what made you pursue DES in the first place. As an Event Producer for the last 12 years, I have worked on corporate events for Google, SoftBank Vision Fund, and many other pharma, financial, and tech companies. In the spring, like all of us in the event industry experienced, my work on live events disappeared for the foreseeable future. I quickly realized that in order to keep up with an ever-changing world I needed to pivot towards digital. I came across the DES course and felt it was the right moment to learn foundational knowledge on producing digital events. Just as I began my DES course, I got the opportunity to work with Maritz Automotive on a Lexus digital program. It was perfect timing since I was able to apply the key learnings from the DES course into my real-life work experience. What key learnings from the DES course have you implemented in producing this digital training event for Lexus? Since I was going through the DES course as I was producing the Lexus event,I was provided with additional foundational learnings that I was able to incorporate, almost immediately. Each week as a new module was being released, I was able to look at the information presented in that module and ask myself, “what key learnings from this module do I need to apply to this digital event?” I would refer to my notes and the coursework and I would boil the information down to 3-5 key learnings and I would apply that to my work on the event. For instance, we did several platform demos. In this process, I referenced back to the Technology module in the DES course where solutions are grouped into three different categories: Nice to Haves, Need to Haves, and Must Haves. I’ve referenced this categorization several times already as I continue to look at different platforms for other programs. It was beneficial to think in those terms and know that there’s not going to be a perfect, one-size-fits-all platform. This module helped me stay focused on choosing the right solution for my clients. Another key learning from the DES course was about technical requirements and technical support. A lot of back-end support is needed in digital events, and your platform doesn’t always provide that. As event producers, we have to do the job. I referenced a lot of information from the course on how to answer technical issues as they occur on the platform or on specific devices, and how to handle questions that come up in live chats, Q&A and polling. That module was incredibly helpful. Another module that I found really

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With a vision and passion to embrace digital experience, Melissa Patruno became certified as a Digital Event Strategist in August. Upon completing the certification course, Patruno immediately implemented what she learned and produced a successful digital event. Hear Melissa on what she loved about the program.

Tell us a little bit about what you do and what made you pursue DES in the first place.

As an Event Producer for the last 12 years, I have worked on corporate events for Google, SoftBank Vision Fund, and many other pharma, financial, and tech companies. In the spring, like all of us in the event industry experienced, my work on live events disappeared for the foreseeable future. I quickly realized that in order to keep up with an ever-changing world I needed to pivot towards digital.

I came across the DES course and felt it was the right moment to learn foundational knowledge on producing digital events. Just as I began my DES course, I got the opportunity to work with Maritz Automotive on a Lexus digital program. It was perfect timing since I was able to apply the key learnings from the DES course into my real-life work experience.

What key learnings from the DES course have you implemented in producing this digital training event for Lexus?

Since I was going through the DES course as I was producing the Lexus event,I was provided with additional foundational learnings that I was able to incorporate, almost immediately. Each week as a new module was being released, I was able to look at the information presented in that module and ask myself, “what key learnings from this module do I need to apply to this digital event?” I would refer to my notes and the coursework and I would boil the information down to 3-5 key learnings and I would apply that to my work on the event.

For instance, we did several platform demos. In this process, I referenced back to the Technology module in the DES course where solutions are grouped into three different categories: Nice to Haves, Need to Haves, and Must Haves.

I’ve referenced this categorization several times already as I continue to look at different platforms for other programs. It was beneficial to think in those terms and know that there’s not going to be a perfect, one-size-fits-all platform. This module helped me stay focused on choosing the right solution for my clients.

Another key learning from the DES course was about technical requirements and technical support. A lot of back-end support is needed in digital events, and your platform doesn’t always provide that. As event producers, we have to do the job. I referenced a lot of information from the course on how to answer technical issues as they occur on the platform or on specific devices, and how to handle questions that come up in live chats, Q&A and polling. That module was incredibly helpful.

Another module that I found really helpful was on reporting and metrics. In the Lexus event, a lot of metrics were available from the platform. With the knowledge learned from the DES course, I was able to think through what would be the key data that I needed to pull from the plethora of reports available. It made me think in a different manner than I would have on my own.

Sounds like your main take-aways were how to choose the right technology, day-of production tips and tricks, as well as measurements because you want to be able to demonstrate the ROI of your event.

Exactly. You have to go back to stakeholders with ROI to justify continuing to do virtual events.

If a friend or colleague is on the fence about taking DES, what would you say to nudge them?

I tell all my friends in the industry about the DES course! It’s important for us to not be resistant to this change. Some of my colleagues say things like, “No, I don’t want to go digital. I want live.” If we resist it, however, we’re really doing ourselves a disservice because technology is an integral part of our lives and as we’re seeing, digital isn’t going away.

Things are changing at lightspeed, and we must make the transition quickly. With that, there’s a lot of growing pains, but there’s also a lot of wonderful opportunities. All the work that I have moving forward at this moment is digital (events). I’m grateful that I came across the DES course, decided to invest in it, and took the time to do so.

It’s great having the DES course in my toolbelt along with some work experience in the digital sphere. In addition to working on the digital event for Lexus, I also have worked as a Green Room Concierge and Engineer for the Intrado Platform. I have learned how to navigate the back end of the platform and work with the presenters and manage the audience for simulive broadcasts. I feel very confident in learning these new skills and applying them to the events I produce. I look forward to working on more and more digital and eventually hybrid events!

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The Digital Event Strategist Spotlight series features Digital Event Strategists and how they are making an impact in their work through digital and hybrid events.

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