After six years of a face to face award ceremony for Emergency Services Community personnel, and with emergency services having faced one of their most challenging years, it just wasn’t on the cards to let their Award Recognition events “not happen” in 2020.
With the events industry crumbled to its knees back in mid-March, swift decisions with previously planned events needed to be made. As Event Managers for the 2020 NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards (RESCA) we had to act quickly, with the launch event to officially open nominations for the awards due to take place on 25 March.
Collaboration, open minds and re-design
So, we got to work! Collaboration and a re-design of all three events was key. Working tightly, the combined commitment of Rotary, the emergency services, all event partners along with our dedicated team, never wavered.
From making the first decision to create a video release for the initial face to face event (due to take place at NSW Parliament House), the approach from that moment was that this event and all associated events must still go ahead, no matter what the format! Recognising and honouring our 2020 emergency services was a certainty – no good event manager would let this group down. And Admire were committed!
Planning for all three community voted awards events, hosted by Rotary and recognising their motto of “Service Above Self” surged ahead.
Advising an established committee
“Impressed” with how the Rotary Steering Committee embraced all the ideas I put on offer to them to redesign their event was an understatement. This traditional event had run in the same format for the last six years, so being open minded to a new challenge was a big ask!
It’s not always easy to get committees and people to change their way of thinking, and even with communication channels clogged and focused solely on COVID-19, the sixth annual 2020 Awards received the highest number of nominations as a state-wide program.
We’re not denying it though – we had optimistic hopes that the restrictions on our industry would be a short-lived inconvenience – we were wrong! Thus, the date for the ‘Announcement of Finalists’ event and the ‘Awards Dinner’ were both moved back a few months, with continued optimism for face to face events later in the year with all finalists in the same room together.
It was not to be. A second face to face event cancellation in August for the ‘Announcement of Finalists’ saw a video release to Facebook. The good news was that the video reached over 40,000 and the video was watched close to 14,000 times! That was a win!
However, the ‘Awards Dinner’, usually with over 350 in attendance, would also need to take on a new format this year.
Honouring emergency services personnel – hybrid style
The outcome would be one main location, the SMC, a formal dinner and live broadcast would reach eight satellite locations, and finalists, their families and supporters could all be present.
Utilising the “ON AIR” industry collaboration between the SMC Conference & Function Centre, Audio Visual Events and Create Engage, the event went ahead in a completely new format. 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 well deserving finalists were joined by their emergency service Commissioner in the satellite locations, along with Rotarians and a representative of the events Principal Partner, Aware Super.
Most Deputy Commissioners for the agencies attended the main event at the SMC along with the RESCA Vice-Regal Patrons Her Excellency, The Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC Governor of New South Wales and Mr Wilson, The Hon Gareth Ward MP Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Shane Fitzsimmons, Commissioner of Resilience, Rotarians and key event partners and sponsors.
“In true COVID fashion, this year the night is spread across eight locations around NSW, all connected virtually” said Commissioner of Resilience, Shane Fitzsimmons when he attended the primary location at the SMC Conference & Function Centre on Friday 30 October 2020.
Supporters and family members still tuned in
The broadcast was also simultaneously streamed over the RESCA Facebook page ensuring finalists could share their special evening with family and friends, irrespective of where they were located.
We’ve received such overwhelmingly positive feedback about the event. Our client is even giving serious consideration to continuing with this format in the future, irrespective of COVID restrictions, providing the ability to expand the event into other regions without guests needing to travel to one location.
Getting back on site
At a time when there is still an element of uncertainty within the events industry, we wish to highlight that with collaboration and an open mind, important events can still go on, and in this case, the very deserving cohort of NSW Emergency Services were still honoured professionally and appropriately.
The industry overall has experienced so many set-backs. With this in mind, we brought on an intern from ICMS as part of the team, providing an opportunity for some “real-life” event experience as part of their 2020 studies – what a learning experience for the next generation of event managers – for them this is what the ‘new normal’ in events might look like!
As an enthusiastic and passionate event team we can’t express how great it was to get dressed up, be on site, back on our feet, checking in guests (as well as temperature checking them) and just get “back in the groove”. And it wasn’t just the AE team that expressed this. We know those who live and breathe events are “itching” to get back out there. Even our photographer on site was in her element and the awesome crew from the SMC (as always) went above and beyond as they were just so thrilled to once again be the great hosts they are!
If you need help to redesign your event click here and book a time to chat with one of our Event Managers.