Karen Sutton, CEO, Global Good Awards explains her journey towards the event’s very first virtual awards ceremony
One of the most exciting days of the year for me – for the past five years – has been one particular early summer’s day. It’s the day when a whole year’s work comes to fruition: the Global Good Awards ceremony. It’s an exciting, frenetic day when our winners are finally revealed and celebrated.
To pull it off involves an enormous amount of work, especially for a perfectionist like me, but it’s one hell of day that leaves a smile on my face for weeks…
So you can imagine how I felt when lockdown was brought in. The pandemic had already started to have an effect on the UK before our entry deadline had passed, affecting our predicted 40% increase on entries. And the ban on large gatherings – our ceremony usually brought together in excess of 225 people – really hit me for six.
Initially I felt like a kid who’d discovered Christmas was cancelled but – as many of you who know me – that feeling of despondency didn’t last long and I started to think of ways how we could celebrate our 2020 winners. There was no doubt in my mind that we would celebrate and we would make our mark – despite everything!
At first I explored the options of a socially-distanced event at our wonderful, sustainable venue, BMA House but discovered that the then 2m rule would make it impossible to accommodate everyone. And even if we could, would the atmosphere feel right? Then with the easing of distancing down to 1m+, would people be happy to socialise with people outside their households even with social distancing measures in place? And would people really want to travel?
Given the way the awards are run – as ethically and sustainably as possible – I had been planning to live stream the awards ceremony for the benefit of our many overseas finalists. To be honest, I’ve never felt comfortable with people flying in from all over the world to our ceremony to simply collect a prize.
We decided early on to make the original ceremony date of 16th June a second announcement of ‘podium’ winners (so not revealing who’d won gold, silver or bronze). I felt that this would give us valuable time to see what lockdown easing might mean for the events industry.
Of course during lockdown, all of us were getting used to using Zoom, Teams and Webex (thanks to our supporter Cisco, who’d helped out with our virtual Judging Day in April) and it struck me that the obvious thing to do was for the GGA 2020 ceremony to move to a virtual experience. But how could we create an event that was a ‘must-attend’ and as enjoyable as our usual annual celebration?
Enter Glisser, an audience engagement platform, I encountered via a webinar by JLA. Following discussions with our video production partner Prospect Arts, we have been able to structure something that isn’t just a plain video stream of our winner announcements, but something pretty special.
Glisser, allows us to offer an extra special online event containing enhanced content including polls, quizzes, gamification and discussions. This is going to be a real experience, a new experience and one you certainly won’t want to miss. I’m really excited to be able to offer this affordable alternative too – as I am very aware of just how financially hit so many businesses have been by this terrible time.
We hope our new virtual venture will be successful, that it will help build our programme for next year and result in a hybrid event (at a venue and online) – which many believe will be the ‘new normal’ for the events industry.
So come and join us on 2nd September and experience our brave new world! I look forward to seeing you there!
You can book your tickets here.