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covid one year on: how we took events virtual

When the Covid crisis struck, it turned everyone’s world upside down. For a company that thrives on bringing people together to create unforgettable events – it created immediate challenges. The team met these head on – using their creativity and determination to deliver a series of virtual and hybrid events – proving that nothing can stand in the way of a great event, not even a pandemic.

Just like physical events, virtual events come in different shapes and sizes – each requiring new skills, tools and creativity to hit the brief and create brilliant content for our clients and attendees. Here we’ve chosen three particular events which illustrate the different solutions we delivered and why they worked so well.

Lorca Live

Lorca Live – the flagship cybersecurity summit backed by DCMS, had been in the planning for a long time and we were all looking forward to seeing it come to life in March 2020. As you can imagine, things didn’t quite turn out as we had planned.

We immediately pushed the date back and started working out how to recreate all of our plans in a virtual setting. To achieve what we wanted to deliver, we quickly realised that the event needed to be partnered with an online content hub, so we started building as a bespoke solution to fit the project’s requirements while considering what the live element might look like.

We settled on a hybrid event – blending elements of on-location shooting with virtual platforms. Running over five days, Lorca Live would stream an hour of live content per day – with guests joining BBC presenter Ben Thompson in a specially constructed studio for the interviews. By live-streaming the content, we were able to encourage audience participation – a key element for Lorca.


Once the live stream was finished, we made sure it was immediately available to watch on-demand on the Lorca Live hub. In addition to this, there were also podcasts and articles from the Lorca team and key stakeholders, adding further insight around the five key themes of the event.

As well as curating the event – deciding on speakers and formats, building the hub and populating it with content, the Seven Hills team was on the ground, working with our production partner to make sure the live streams went as smoothly as possible and advising on creative direction – all within the Covid-safe regulations at that time.

The event was a huge success. Across all of the content, a total of 55 experts shared their insights through interviews and contributions. Most tellingly, an event that would normally welcome 200-300 guests, ended up with 3,000 unique users. Proving that what a virtual event lacks in face-to-face contact, it makes up in audience reach.

We’re now working hard on the next Lorca Live. Using a similar format, we’ll be going live over three days in March. Click here for details.


Strava: 2020 year in sport

The world’s biggest sports participation platform supports millions of athletes to track and share their activity virtually – so even though an online event wasn’t the original plan for Strava’s 2020 Year in Sport, it felt like a natural solution.

The event launched Strava’s annual Year in Sport report – with a range of high-profile sports personalities penciled in to speak on the report’s findings – all sourced from its data. Rather than building a bespoke hub, we decided to stream the event through Strava’s YouTube channel, which already has almost 50k subscribers. Using a pre-existing platform meant we could make last-minute decisions about functionality without worrying about build time. It also meant users were already familiar with the technology.

The event was an hour-long, with 10 speakers from across the cycling and running landscapes. The plan was to use a studio again but we had to change tack at the last minute because Bristol went into Tier 4 Covid-restrictions in December. In response to this, we used Zoom to bring our speakers together with host, Adrienne Herbert. The Zoom footage then went through our production partner, who added picture in picture and low third animated graphics to the screen before sending it out through YouTube. It may sound complicated, but it created a user-friendly experience for speakers and viewers.

The Seven Hills team worked with Strava to curate the event, handled speaker briefings and generally made sure everything worked seamlessly across the various stakeholders and partners. Both Strava and its audience were delighted with the success of the event.



The Inclusive Economy Partnership’s Impact20 was a very different event again. What was originally planned to be a Summit held in Sheffield, turned into a series of nine intimate conversations on Zoom with no more than 30 handpicked audience members at any one time.

Each roundtable focused on a different part of the country – featuring local government members, educational representatives, business leaders and civic society, all talking about what was working in their community and what needed to be addressed to create a more inclusive society. We were also able to create Zoom-breakout spaces for participants to have even more focused conversations on the day.

With smaller audiences, the moderators and participants were able to get to the heart of some meaty issues and after the series ended, the insights were used to create an in-depth report, filled with powerful crowd-sourced recommendations. Seven Hills was able to handle all of the technical production as well as the attendee curation and outreach. IEP was delighted with the result and the impact of the report speaks for itself.


We may have been pushed into creating virtual events by the very real events unfolding across the world in the wake of the Covid-19, but we’ve embraced them and found that actually, they’re no consolation prize – they’re a powerful, often fun way to connect even more people. That can’t be a bad thing.

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