Admire Events, the event managers for the sixth annual NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards, were excited to once again be working alongside this very deserving group of people, who had put themselves at risk to manage the bushfires in 2019, to deliver their Community voted awards program. These were a series of three events commencing with the opening of nominations, followed by finalists announcements and concluding with the winners Award Presentation Dinner. Then along came COVID-19! Alison Jack Director of Admire Events provides a case study in COVID Event Crisis Management and explains how the organisers managed to deliver this event.
The first event was scheduled at NSW Parliament for 25 March 2020. Some swift decisions needed to be made. The combined commitment of Rotary, the emergency services, event partners and Admire Events never wavered. The approach from that moment was to turn the initial NSW Parliament House face to face event into a video release, with all associated events to still go ahead, no matter what format they would take on.
Planning for all three events, hosted by Rotary and recognising their motto of “Service Above Self” surged ahead. I was so impressed how the Rotary Steering Committee embraced the ideas we proposed to redesign their events. For the last six years, the events had run in the same format, so being open minded to this new challenge was a big ask.
Even with communication channels focused solely on COVID-19, the awards received the highest number of nominations in its sixth year, as a state-wide program. With optimistic hopes for what was believed to be a short-lived inconvenience, the ‘Announcement of Finalists’ event and Awards Dinner were moved back a few months. A second face to face event cancellation in August for the ‘Announcement of Finalists’ saw a video release to Facebook reach over 40,000 with nearly 14,000 views.
The Awards Dinner, usually with over 350 attendees, would also need to take on a new format. The primary location would be the SMC Conference & Function Centre and the evening would be spread over 8 locations.
Utilising the “ON AIR” industry co-op between the SMC, Audio Visual Events and Create Engage, the Admire Events team worked to bring a live broadcast to eight satellite events throughout the state. From Casino in the North to Mollymook in the South and out west to Dubbo, award finalists gathered in smaller events at various locations, ranging from 10 to 50 people in each location.
Many finalists were joined by their emergency service Commissioners in the satellite locations, along with Rotarians and a representative of the events Principal Partner. Most Deputy Commissioners for the agencies attended the SMC, together with dignitaries, key event partners and sponsors.
The broadcast was simultaneously streamed over the event Facebook page to ensure that finalists were able to share in their special evening with family and friends, irrespective of their location.
Post event we received overwhelmingly positive feedback and the client is now giving serious consideration to continuing with this format into the future, irrespective of COVID restrictions.
At a time when there is still an element of uncertainty within the events industry, with collaboration and open minds, events can not only take place, but continue to evolve and improve.
Alison & her team at Admire Events are NSW finalists