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Event impacted by COVID-19? Safe ideas to keep your audience engaged
March 16, 2020

By now, we are all well aware of the impact that the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is having on our day-to-day lives. At Tactive, we’re feeling the effects of canceled print and promo orders as our customers make the difficult, but safe, decision to cancel, postpone, or go virtual with events that could further the spread.

These events have been planned for months or years in advance and are highly anticipated by both the organizers and the attendees. It’s a bummer, all around. While we can’t offer up solutions to stop the spread of a global pandemic, we can do what we do best: help our customers find creative ways to engage with their audience.

Whether you are dealing with a canceled event, delay, virtual, or “awaiting further developments”, below are a few suggestions to keep in mind when it comes to things like printing, giveaways, swag, signage, and more.

Canceled Events

Of all the scenarios, this really is the worst. However, the decision to cancel an event is one made out of an abundance of caution. If your event was canceled you’re probably dealing with a lot of heartbroken folks who were looking forward to engaging with their community and your brand. Your organization may also be missing out on revenue that could majorly impact your bottom line. Here are a few ideas on ways you can utilize print & promo to stay engaged and perhaps make up some of the loss:

  • Open an online “pop-up” store to sell pre-purchased merchandise to attendees. For non-profits, this could also be a fundraising appeal noting how the cancellation may affect your bottom line.
  • Use your existing lists to send pre-purchased swag, giveaways, or prizes directly to your customers in a branded box.
  • Incorporate variable data printing to personalize your greetings and packaging to every recipient – just like you would at a live event.
  • Consider recycling your existing large format pieces like banners into wallets, bags, or other items that your fans can purchase and wear proudly.

Virtual Events

Going virtual is a great way to avoid a canceled event. Technology that enables events to shift to a virtual format is revolutionizing the impact of this pandemic, but virtual environments often lack the human connections that make live events so exciting. Just because we live in a digital world doesn’t mean every aspect of your event has to stay virtual. Here are a few ideas to make a real connection with your community through print and promo:

  • Change the copy on your invitations to include all of the virtual event information, and be sure to incorporate variable data to personalize things like greetings and company names.
  • Send swag, giveaways, and marketing materials directly to your attendees with a Dimensional Direct Mail kit branded for your event.
  • Use the virtual environment to capture prospect data, then follow up with a physical mailer to set a one-on-one appointment
  • Incorporate technology giveaways that will make attendance easier – like branded earbuds, wireless charging pads, or phone stands.

Postponed & Future Events

The first part of the print + promo chain to be affected by COVID-19 was with promotional manufacturers in China. The virus broke out during the Chinese New Year festival, an annual festival that shuts down all production for approximately 20 days as families travel back to their homes to spend time with family and friends.

According to our contact in China, factories would normally be back online in mid-February at the close of the Chinese New Year. However, most factories have pushed the start date back to mid-March to curb the spread. This delay – along with increased complications with air transportation – could affect production times for your orders.

Here are a few things to consider as the situation progresses:

  • If you’re considering a custom-made promotional item, give yourself at least 20 extra days to receive your order. Also, the cost to transport your order via air cargo or freight could increase.
  • You may want to delay ordering any swag, printing, or signage until closer to the event. Our standard production time for apparel and hard goods is 2-weeks, but there are rush options available should you need them.
  • Keep in mind that many other event organizers may be delaying their events, which means a large cluster of events may be happening at the same time. There is no way to predict how production and transit times may be affected, but we will always do our best to accommodate your requests!
  • Be sure to pad your budget a bit to account for any expedited shipping or rush production charges.
  • Be flexible with your promo requests. Many suppliers could not have anticipated the rush of orders on items like hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes, and inventory may be extremely low.
  • Have a Plan B. See our suggestions above to create a contingency plan with your team so you can stay safe without sacrificing engagement with your audience.

As with all businesses, we’ve taken extra precautions to protect our employees and customers. Currently, our in-house production is still operating and available to meet your print + promo needs. We are listening closely to what the CDC officials are recommending. Please take care of yourself and keep the safety of your community in mind.

If you need help creating your “Plan B” due to a canceled event, be sure to contact your Account Manager, or you can re  ach us at 317-833-7000 or We are here for you.