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2020 Association Leadership Awards Goes Virtual

CEO Update

Now in its seventh year, the Association Leadership Awards recognizes excellence in trade associations and professional societies. For the 2020 program, LAI Live and LAI Video had the pleasure of partnering with CEO Update to take the awards show to the virtual stage – with the same goal of effectively honoring and celebrating the award recipients, while also adapting the experience to captivate remote attendees with an engaging, one-of-a-kind program.

A Balancing Act: Rethinking the Show for Virtual

In a time when we’re all feeling off balance and out of our comfort zones, our producers partnered with CEO Update to create a timely event design and theme for their virtual awards program: Finding Balance. And speaking of balance, since a virtual event is not a plug-and-play of an in-person format, we worked hard to re-imagine the experience and think about what elements from the program to capitalize on (celebrating the award recipients), and what we needed to adjust. For example:

  1. Based on attendee feedback, we moved the timing of the show to happy hour (4-5pm) vs. the previous mid-day luncheon.
  2. Instead of the traditional ballroom, we selected a video-friendly tech platform that could support the show’s large investment in broadcast-quality video programming.
  3. Finally, acknowledging that the show’s past format of a networking reception wouldn’t be as effective virtually, we instead focused on delivering a highly produced storyline that would captivate the remote audience.

Read more tips for hosting a virtual event.

Equilibrium in Action: Crafting an Engaging, Video-Driven Storyline

When rethinking how to pivot the existing ALA program, our team of producers felt that delivering a strong storyline would prove most effective in engaging the virtual audience. To transport attendees into a unique and enjoyable experience that was something they had never seen before. We partnered with our LAI Video colleagues to do just that – creating a light-hearted, video-driven storyline that followed CEO Update’s Mark Graham on his journey through the “virtual world.” To make the program feel organic yet polished, we used a mix of highly produced video segments and live content—featuring real-time hosts that kept the program moving and gave it continuity. We also incorporated creative elements to surprise and delight attendees, including some celebrity cameos!

Learn more about the great work LAI Video created for the program.

In Perfect Harmony: Adding Value for Sponsors

Another area we needed to adapt from CEO Update’s in-person event was providing value and opportunities to the award show’s sponsors. Our team got creative and developed numerous ways to give sponsors visibility. Not only were they featured via ads in the digital program guide we created, but we also utilized the video-centric program to create multiple chances for acknowledgement within the actual show content. Sponsor logos were introduced at the beginning of the show with a fun ticker scroll at the bottom of the screen, included in the show’s congratulatory videos for award recipients, as well as integrated through strategic in-show placement during the show’s pre-recorded videos (inspired by the classic Wayne’s World product placement). On top of this exposure, we also built out a special page on the event tech platform that featured the sponsors and linked out to their websites.

See more ideas for engaging sponsors virtually.

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…

Kate Burns is the chief operating officer at Leading Authorities. With a 10+ year background with LAI, Kate is involved across the company in executing our plans for growth, helping build a company that creates value and opportunity for all of us in the years ahead.

Katie Nesbit-Blackburn joined LAI Live with over a decade of experience in all facets of event production.

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…