The virtue of going virtual

to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature,


Virtual. It’s the way forward you know. At least it is for 2020.

It was brilliant to see – via the internet- so many of you show up for our BMJ Industry Awards online stream last Friday. Congratulations to everyone who entered, was nominated, made it to the finalist list and won. This is an amazing industry and we feel privileged to be able to hold a mirror up to it and showcase the talents and achievements.

Whenever we hold events, there’s always that party-anxiety thing at the back of your mind, as you wonder whether anyone you invited will actually come. It turns out that that anxiety is just as real for a virtual event and a real-life one.

So, phew! Thanks for coming and thanks for taking part in the social wall chit-chat. I’ve watched a few of these events over the past few weeks, just to get a feel for how different industries approach them and I have to say, ours was my far the most enjoyable. Maybe that’s because it’s ‘my’ industry, so I know more of the people and the products, but mostly because the general bonhomie seems so much better.

There was a lot more of it than in the other events I’d watched for a start and genuinely more of sociable, chatty feel. I would say that says everything about this industry. We are a people industry and we thrive on being together, on throwing ideas around over a coffee or a beer, on asking how things are going and then following hat up with a ‘oh, that’s interesting/worrying/fabulous, tell me more’. Countless business deals, relationships (business and other!), sales and editorial features have been started this way and long may it continue – when it can. Obviously, twitter-banter can’t replicate that in its entirety but, as alternatives go, it worked pretty well on Friday.

It looks as though virtual events will be with us for a few more months yet as the BMF has announced that its annual members’ conference and AGM will be held virtually and, of course, NMBS has had to put off the Grosvenor House event. Social distancing is all well and good, but there are times when it won’t work and taking an hour to get to the loo because you’ve stopped to chat to so many people on the way just can’t be replicated by a virtual version. Although I won’t miss the shock of realising the barman has just asked you to pay eleventy-million-pounds for two pints and three gin and tonics.

The government’s roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown, issued last week indicate that exhibitions and conferences might be able to recommence from the end of October, although this is dependent on the success of a number of pilot schemes. No details as to what or when these are, which is not helpful for anyone planning any events this side of Christmas.

It’s all baby-steps back to normality, but as long as everyone is sensible, follows the rules, wears a mask where required to and washes their hands regularly and properly, we might be, if not on the home straight, then at least heading up to the final bend in the road.

If you missed the awards on Friday, by the way, you can catch up with it all again here.




BMJ Industry Awards 2020 from Datateam Business Media on Vimeo.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

Check Also


Get your yellow on for #MaddiesDay

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold it would …