The way we communicate and present ourselves to the world has changed for good, and so have we.

Babaco Media is the new face of PS Programmes. Our transformation reflects a new reality and shift in how we’re communicating and presenting ourselves to the world, with a strong focus on virtual interactions alongside our face-to-face experiences.

What prompted the change?

The change has come about because we have always been led by the principle that we coach on what we know from experience. Our team originally came together as a group of industry professionals who made a living as presenters, media spokespeople, journalists, speaker agents and producers.

Our whole industry is experiencing a shift in thinking and is coming to terms with a new reality about how public communication and interaction could and should happen. Last year, there was a dramatic swing from presenting ‘live’ events, including presentations and interviews, to more virtual experiences. Babaco Media’s revised approach to coaching reflects our clients’ new needs.

We decided to act now to ensure that we are on the front foot. It puts us ahead of the curve, as we open up new possibilities for our clients. This is enabling us to guide, advise and coach them as to how best to communicate and present themselves to their own clients and audiences. Although the tools and the platforms may have changed, we are still remaining true to our roots of giving people new skills and boosting confidence where it’s needed most.

A new name for a new direction

As to why we chose the name ‘babaco’, we were hooked from the moment we saw one. The babaco is a fresh, zingy fruit from Ecuador. The tongue tingling taste earns it the nickname ‘champagne fruit’ – very appropriate for those of us who have lived and breathed the events industry for so long. Cut through the middle of a babaco, and the cross section reveals a star, much like those moments where the coaching ‘clicks’ with a client and they find themselves delivering a performance they are proud of.

Keeping reputation at the core

If we once thought of a computer as our window on the world, the camera now gives the world an intimate look into our lives. In 2020, we saw presenters, politicians, experts and businesspeople addressing the nation from their homes. Audiences have forgiven shaky internet connections, poor lighting, and questionable book choices in the background. During 2021, however, the demand for professionalism will be on the rise.

Babaco Media’s core offer is to help businesses manage their public image through media training, crisis communications and presentation skills. In the new media landscape, we have heard and responded to the need for a greater emphasis on how to present in high-pressure environments under the unforgiving eye of the camera.

Such high-pressure environments include parliamentary committees and public inquiries, which can have a significant impact on reputation. A good reputation, which we have always helped clients to safeguard, is the ‘money-can’t-buy’ factor that can carry a business through bad times.

Virtual coaching: convenient, flexible and relevant

As for how we deliver this training, our team’s background in personal communication and television gives us the edge when it comes to the new reality of virtual rather than face-to-face communications. Babaco Media is able to help companies prepare for interviews, hearings, conferences, webinars and crisis communications online.

Apart from the convenience of sharing a URL rather than dealing with the logistics of in-person meetings, remote coaching is a good fit for the work that we carry out. When we are talking about how to present on camera, we are able to have a professional opinion on the equipment already in use and advise on how to make the best of it, or whether upgrades are necessary. A further advantage of coaching virtually is that the practice sessions are a closer reflection of how things will be on the day of the event itself, reducing the likelihood of something unexpected happening during the ‘real thing’.

Making the practice as close as possible to the real-world event is also part of our refocus on crisis planning. Preparing for the unexpected is a key component of leadership, whether it relates to a sudden slump in performance, a cyber-attack, an environmental matter, a tragic accident or other unforeseen circumstance. Our extensive experience in crisis media management points to controlling the flow of information as a vital part of the picture in a genuine crisis, as without a strategy, misinformation will quickly eclipse reality and a reputation that has taken years to build has been destroyed in moments.

The team at Babaco Media have years of lived experience that we share with clients whose media and presentation skills are under the spotlight. The move to digital has increased the opportunity for more people inside a business to talk to more people outside it than ever before. The expectations on teams can be daunting. Our coaching aims to make the task comprehensible and manageable.

Having an expert coaching your team’s performance will give your people the same tools as professional presenters, enabling them to get the best out of their workspace, their camera and how they present themselves.

We have unsurprisingly seen a dramatic shift from live events to virtual conferences, webinars and awards ceremonies. Babaco Media now offers a dedicated virtual and hybrid service too. Over the last few months, we have worked either directly with clients or through creative agencies, to design, create and shape impactful content for virtual events. We have found that virtual experiences deliver all of the benefits of a live event.

Lessons from our experience of virtual events

We have also been requested to host and facilitate virtual conferences too. Last May, Babaco Media founder, Nadine Dereza took on a presenting assignment which involved her setting up a fully operational studio in her front room, complete with stage set, remote-control cameras, lights and monitors.

Directed remotely by technicians from their own homes, Nadine laid cables, positioned cameras, connected the sound desk and plugged everything into the computers that linked her with the crew.

As for the event itself, a great deal of thought had clearly gone into the speaker line-up, interactivity for the audience and much tighter curation of the content: the difference between an in-person event for a captive audience and a virtual event for participants who can switch off at any time was huge.

The viewing figures were higher than we would have expected if the event had been held live in-person. It felt like live TV, with all the attendant expectations and need for speakers to adapt for the medium. The experience cemented the idea of reviewing our priorities, as the millions of cameras embedded in phones and computers around the world have been called on to step up to the task of connecting us for business.

The events landscape for 2021 and beyond

The events industry as we once knew it, is facing a new future: some organisers will take a ‘digital first’ attitude towards events as a way of streamlining costs and logistics and reducing their environmental impact.

There will be an expectation that when live events return, there will be an option to participate digitally, either as a delegate or a speaker, and we are looking forward to seeing how such ‘hybrid’ events will change the industry further. This could be the moment that Virtual Reality finally breaks through for the industry, as it’s more cost effective to send a headset to a delegate than it is to get that delegate to the venue. ‘Pure’ in-person events without a digital element will still happen in the future, but these are likely to be smaller, more exclusive and much rarer.

The whole communication landscape has changed, and Babaco Media is our response, building on our own reputation for excellence in coaching. Connection, by whatever means we achieve it, is what we need to do, and that need has never been greater. We are at our strongest when we work together and as 2021 is just underway, we are looking forward to enabling our clients to connect with their audience in this new landscape with purpose, enthusiasm and confidence.

This article appears on Babaco Media’s website, as well as on Nadine Dereza’s website.