UK Annual Social Prescribing #LinkWorkerDay2020 Awards & Conference

Case Study | Online

Event Details

  • Guests: 350
  • Event Year: 2020
  • Platform: Hopin
  • Location: Online
Making the decision to move an annually held face to face event to online can be daunting. Even we were initially daunted at the thought of online events. We now stand here, nearly a year into delivering virtual events, to tell you that it is not scary. It can be done and done very successfully, as the following case study will show you.

The goal of the #LinkWorkerDay2020 Awards & Conference

The National Association of Link Workers (NALW) had never ran their annual conference and awards online, although had experience of running training and webinars. In 2019, the awards and conference had been held in a live space and were due to take place again as a face to face event in April 2020. Due to Covid-19The Association had to make the decision to move the event online. It was important to NALW to still be able to capture the purpose of the event in the new format. We spent time with the team to really understand the association, its aims and values, and the objectives for the event as part of the organisation and the sector they support. They wanted to celebrate the incredible work of their members, their projects and educate and inspire their attendees. So, the goal was to tie all of this into 2 days virtually.

ZiaBia’s Role

ZiaBia were approached to project manage the conference and awards ceremony. The NALW team had the agenda, speakers, sponsors, event host and platform in place. Awards finalists had been decided and entertainment to make the afternoon fun and engaging was in place. Event support was required to bring all of these elements together and to ensure communication, onboarding, planning and rehearsals took place pre event and then to event manage the event on the day.


Hopin was the chosen platform for the event, NALW had already made a decision to use this interactive environment. A great alternative to the likes of Zoom, Hopin has far more functionality when it comes to hosting a virtual event in this format. The platform itself is set up as a reflection of a venue, including a reception area, mainstage, breakout session rooms, networking area and expo area – with all of the platform being utilised for both the awards and conference. We worked with a production company who supported with the technical delivery of the event on Hopin. This allowed us to focus on speaker management, social media support, interaction and engagement, supporting award finalists and onboarding and general attendee technical help across the 2 days.

Important things we had to consider –

  • Making time for rehearsals, in advance of the event day and the importance of these
  • How time consuming the onboarding for all stakeholders and speakers would be
  • How to ensure attendee wellbeing was considered at every stage – incorporating breaks, time for networking, entertainment, and wellbeing sessions and to work with the NALW team to ensure this happened
  • Contingency plans for issues with technology on the day

Pre Event – 

Stakeholder Management

The pre-event management was very time intensive, in some ways more so than a face-to-face event, as the detail is in the planning. We worked hard to ensure all parties involved in the event had familiarisation time on Hopin with the ZiaBia team and the production team and were comfortable to navigate the platform. Furthermore, we allocated specific time slots for the various roles within the event. Rehearsals for the mainstage speakers, session speakers, entertainment, award nominees, the hosts and the event team were all separate. You can understand how much time had to be dedicated purely to the rehearsals, with over 25 speakers and 20 award finalists to ensure were happy and confident.

In addition to the rehearsals, personalised NALW briefing packs were created for the host, awards nominees, and all speakers, which again took time but is totally necessary, alongside joining instructions that were sent to attendees. One major difference with an online event is not having the in-person support from the event team – so we needed to ensure everyone was comfortable with their own role and what was expected from them.

The Digital Event Brochure 

A vital element of the event was the event brochure. Previously, the event brochure was a printed piece of collateral, but this year the decision was made to create a digital brochure that was fully  branded and formatted as a physical brochure. It was emailed out with joining instructions and available on the NALW website. We supported with creating the content for the brochure by  collating all of the relevant information for every speaker appearing across the 2-day event, including photos, bios and titles, and then formatting in an logical order to be sent off to the graphic designers.

‘Onsite’ Management – 


We had 3 of the ZiaBia team virtually ‘onsite’ for both days of the event, alongside an additional 2 production team members. This enabled us to allocate roles and responsibilities to the team to ensure all actions were being picked up throughout the event and to reduce as much pressure as possible from the NALW team to allow them to focus on their own roles in the delivery of the event. It also allowed us to dedicate at least one of the ZiaBia team to looking after speakers, always.

Social Media Management

One of the clients goals from the very beginning was to have the hashtag for the campaign trending on twitter. We supported with social media on the day of the event and had access to the NALW accounts. A tweetdeck template was in place, photos of the awards finalists, winners, and just general updates were set up with the event hashtag, to get the event being discussed on social media. The hashtag #LinkWorkerDay2020 did in fact trend in the top 20 for the UK, a key success factor for the association – this was a campaign hashtag and was a cumulation of efforts from all that  participated. This included people who did not attend the conference but wanted to ensure the reach and exposure for Link Workers. We also supported in creating a competition on social media that rewarded the top interactors of the event! We began by creating a scoring system and writing full T&C’s for the competition, followed by sourcing a live, interactive social wall to display and rank the interactions with the specific competition hashtag.

Audience Engagement and Entertainment

Audience engagement is key for NALW, they wanted to make sure that they delivered from both an educational angle and audience enjoyment! So the awards ceremony was opened with a live dance demonstration with a Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer and encouraged people to join in and share their photos and videos on social media. The awards ceremony was structured so that attendees were entertained during the food courses and encouraged them to also share their photos on social media.

  • The starter course was accompanied by a session on mindfulness and gardening
  • The main course was a live cook-a-long with a professional chef, and the ingredients list required to cook along had been sent out in advance with the joining instructions so people could purchase ahead of the day
  • The dessert course showed a video from one of the projects supported by the association

To continue the audience enjoyment through to the conference element of the event, day 2 opened with another live dance session as an energiser. There was substantial time built into the agenda or breaks and networking. The attendees also had access to a fully branded virtual photo booth that the NALW team had arranged that could be used throughout the event, again being encouraged to share their photos on socials.

The Feedback

Overall, the event can only be described as a success. The feedback around the platform was all very positive, and attendees and speakers alike were all in awe of its functionality and what was achieved in a virtual environment! We have since worked on 14 more events with NALW following the #LinkWorkerDay2020 Awards and Conference and are continuing our work for the remainder of 2021 with a collaborative relationship with the NALW team.

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