Online Pre-Events During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, mega-events such as the Olympics and expo were postponed, prolonging the build-up phase of the events and providing the opportunity to organize pre-events. COVID restrictions and limitations on movement forced these pre-events to be held online. Examining the case of pre-events leading up to Expo 2020 Dubai, we argue that, as an emerging and growing phenomenon, digital pre-events create spaces for experimenting and reengineering new communication approaches. The case study shows how pre-events provide opportunities to event-planners and organizations for communicating in diverse, rich ways with primary stakeholders before a physical event. Because of their small size, pre-events do not attract large publics and, therefore, are also key opportunities for dialogue and interactivity with primary stakeholders. This article not only contributes to our knowledge about this promotional phenomenon but also highlights the importance of pre-events for practitioners in providing spaces for experimentation and small-scale forms of dialogic engagement and cocreation with stakeholders without the pressure that comes from publics’ increasing expectations around large-scale events.