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2018 Association Leadership Awards

CEO Update

Every year, LAI Live and LAI Video—two of the three divisions within Leading Authorities, Inc., partner with the CEO Update team, a prominent news and c-suite jobs publication for the association sector, to produce CEO Update’s annual Association Leadership Awards luncheon event in Washington, DC, recognizing and honoring three senior executive association leaders, who are nominated by their peers and ultimately selected by an independent panel.

The Overview & Objectives

The fast-paced, fifth-annual executive awards event, attended by nearly 400 senior-level executives and other members of the association community, honored three of their own for their impact on their organizations, their industries, and the association community, as a whole.

The three categories at this yearly executive awards show are Trade Association CEO of the Year, Professional Society CEO of the Year, and Association Lobbyist of the Year.

In addition to building on the success from the previous year’s shows, CEO Update had several objectives for the fifth annual Association Leadership Awards show, including to make the program and honorees feel special, to elevate the CEO Update brand, to keep it to one hour, and to create an event that feels distinctive from past years.

Having worked on this event for the last five years, we know a lot about it and enjoy the challenge of keeping it fresh and engaging. Here’s how we continue to ensure this is a can’t-miss event year after year and continue to create anticipation for the next years’ event.

ALA 2018 LIVE Working
ALA 2018 InVision Board

Dream Theme

Each year, we receive feedback from the selection panel on their conversations and decision-making. This year, we were told that each of the honorees stood out for being adaptable to change and pushing through turbulent times to improve their organizations. Thinking about other time periods and industries that have faced major disruption led us to one of our favorite television shows—TNT’s Mad Men. One of the central themes of Mad Men was how the characters dealt with a rapidly changing decade. It also lent itself nicely to a fun, upscale vibe that we could pull through the show. With the theme solidified, we created a mood board to inform our visual choices from graphics and video to furniture and staging.

Amazing Staging

We knew we would get to do some fun graphics for this theme, so we needed a back drop that would make them pop! We opted for a projection-mapped, five-screen backdrop that gave us huge visual impact. Vertically-oriented screens hung in “steps” gave the stage dimension and made a huge, impactful statement in the room. Guests knew they had “arrived.” Then, all we needed was a podium for award presentations and talk-show seating for our hosts.

ALA 2018 Staging
ALA 2018 Mad Men Graphics

"Mad" Graphics

The visuals and graphics really made this show. They were loud, fun, and more than capitalized on the theme. Our designer Ben went all out—creating custom silhouettes of each of the award winners, creating icons that represented each of the winners’ industries, and applying typographic treatments to quotes to create special looks for each award presentation. He also spoiled us with two separate show looks that included subtle movement on the screens to keep the energy flowing throughout the show.

Telling Stories With Video Part 1

The five screens we’ve talked about begged for an amazing video. We challenged our video team and they rose to the occasion with an Archer inspired opening that pulled the silhouette detailing from the graphics package to introduce CEO Update’s CEO and editor-in-chief. Then, the team at LAI Video helped us re-think the traditional interview portion we’ve been including in the show for the previous four years. It’s nice to give honorees face time without long acceptance speeches and give the audience a chance to learn something from the winners. This year, inspired by the Hollywood Reporter Roundtable series, we got the honorees around a table in advance and turned the “best” of the conversations into a series of videos that ran as chapters throughout the show. This meant that the executives being honored didn’t have to prep for any kind of stage role at the event and could just sit back and enjoy the show.

Headtable ALA 2018
Introducers of Honorees

Telling Stories With Video Part 2

In addition to being able to cultivate the best bits of the conversation and control the timing of the videos, shooting in advance gave us a little more gold. To warm up the participants for their interview, CEO Update’s Mark Graham asked them a series of questions, like: “What were you like in high school?”, “What would you do if you won $100M?”, and “What kind of review would your pet give you?” We used two of these as interstitial moments in the show and dressed them up as “lightning round” questions that our hosts could pose to audience members while sharing the responses of the award winners. It made for fun audience interaction and added levity to the program.

Experiencing The Fun Stuff

Capitalizing on the theme, our team dove in and pulled the Mad Men vibe throughout the event experience. We sourced vintage mid-century modern sofas and chairs for the reception space to create unique conversation spaces, and consulted with our catering team to serve hors d’oeuvres like deviled eggs and shrimp cocktail. We also served bottled root beers and cream sodas from bar carts. Finally, to pull it all together, we hired a Frank Sinatra impersonator to sing on stage as guests arrived and give them a farewell serenade at the end. We pulled it off for the fifth year. Now what are we going to do for year six? (You’ll have to buy a table to find out…)

Do you have an upcoming event that the LAI Live and LAI Video teams can help with? Let us know by calling our team at 202-783-0300 or live chatting with a member of our team right now.

ALA 2018 Frank Sintara Singer
Managed and Designed By

Maddie Abram is the Director of Marketing Events at Leading Authorities. She spends her days supporting the marketing team by managing events and on-site logistics with an eye towards lead generation.

Throughout the past 10 years, Katie has worked globally in scenic and lighting design, technical production, and event management.

With over a decade of experience designing a wide variety of engaging visual media solutions, Benjamin McGeever brings a refined eye and a fresh approach to in-person experiences, digital media, and print products. 

Kate Burns leads the marketing team and is responsible for executing key projects for the company.

With more than 15 years experience as an event producer, Shannon has produced everything from multi-million dollar, nationally-televised events to a nationwide roll-out of intimate, in-person experiences.

Elizabeth has over 10 years of experience working with LAI customers in all aspects of our business. She maintains production schedules, manages workflow and tracks deliverables.

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