#32under32 event director experience

#32UNDER32 Opening Film // Minneapolis, MN from acowsay on Vimeo.

Opening film premiered at the May 28th #32under32 awards.

Since December, this Minnesota Design Gal had been planning for the 3rd Annual 32 under 32 community event. This event was founded by an Ad 2 MN volunteer—with a new idea, the right plan, right volunteers and American Advertising Federation (Ad Fed), this community awareness event became a reality!

Accepting the challenge, I made sure to strategize the goals of the event as I knew this year’s focus would be AWARENESS.

The 2nd year I was honored to receive the 32 under 32 award where I found myself not only being congratulated but also educating people about what the award was.

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The best part about leading nonprofit work is recruiting a team of people who you want to know better and are more talented than yourself. That empowered me to reach out to several creative and marketing folks of which I had successful past experiences with, along with a few new eager minds, to create this powerful planning crew for the 3rd annual event.

Sponsorship is the most intimidating role in any nonprofit work because it means you are knocking on doors and asking for, well, dollar bills. My approach this year while spreading the word about the event and award, was to gather influential interesting brands to supply messaging, goods, decorations and give-a-ways for guests.woodchuckIMG_6957
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11312637_986381814728827_5574797207792454698_oThe sponsorship break-down included adding a dessert bar from Mall of America, Catalyst Group creating custom boxes of mints and custom designed name tags, Woodchuck wood-stuff which included custom judge thank-you notebooks and event give-a-ways, KIND Snack bags for 32 winners and judges, Creative Circle for an interactive Photo Booth and contribution to event dollars, Red Stamp winner discounts and SOTA clothing for event-day prizes photography branding. Acowsay digital owner, Tyler was part of the planning crew but he also sponsored with his valuable behind the camera time and mad-digital production skills. Again, thanks to these powerful community names for being part of the entire experience—wouldn’t have wanted to do it without you!

Taking on the Director of this not for profit community event, I knew the event itself would need to be elevated—who wants to come to an event, see that you don’t get the 32 honor and pay $40 to go home with empty stomachs and empty-handed… #notcomingbacknextyear

After touring and seeking out venues for longer than my agenda had planned, I landed on the Minneapolis Event Centers (MEC) and worked with the wildly talented Wendy. The team negotiated the entire event timeline, a welcome-cocktail, special beer price (that matters), rentals and food—MEC would be introduced to many influential advertising professionals, so this helped with our small budget. MEC was even spotlighted as a sponsor for their incredible added-value lighting, tech support and stage excellence.

Red carpet? Of course! It’s all about experience!11417771_986378801395795_5862668234762296448_o

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In the 2 years prior, there were 5-6 judges with a range of experience and industry focus. I interviewed a few of the past judges to ensure the process for the 3rd annual event would be improving. The entire nomination process was streamlined to be better for judging and elevate most efficiently for quality nominations, rather than the not serious contenders.

I secured 6 inspiring leaders that ranged from Director of Project Management, Strategic Account, Start-up CEO, Content/Copywriting agency owner, Digital Production Creative Director and introduced Public Relations.

The overall judging process entailed verifying the identities of each nominee and nominator, compiling and calculating the judges’ grading sheets and the facilitation of the in-person judging day. The process solidified it is fair and it works to select the top 32.
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The 32 honorees of the 2015 award are people who I aspire to be; their backgrounds and proven forward-thinking are incredible. Being able to reach out to them individually was important to me as the event Director—I also realized that I did not have all their emails. A learning for future years is to include a field for the nominees’ email in the nomination form. #ItsCrunchTime

Securing the proprietary URL and designing 32under32.com to be used in the future was a successful outcome—one of my magic 3 goals. The Copywriter and Web Manager worked closely to quickly execute the best messaging and organize the content that made most sense for our busy-career-focused audience. It was designed in under one month for the February 1st nomination window to open.

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The user-generated content, for the introduction video, was something that Tyler from Acowsay Digital and I knew we were taking a chance on. We had set our goal of 20 people to submit a selfie video while answering questions provided to them. We had 40 nominees that sent multiple selfie clips to be added to the final video that was revealed at the event as opening film! #youknowwhoyouare

Creating sharable event materials that can be used to market the event in the future was part of the magic 3 and with Tyler’s talents and help from volunteers and 32 Alumni Cory Vandenberghe, Alison Beattie, Aneela Kumar, Sarah Edwards and Danny Olson, we made it happen with two 30-second spots. View those videos on Ad Fed MN YouTube Channel.

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Set-up before the event. Ready for the 7:15 ceremony!

Who wants to plan an event—then no one shows up?!

Communication and PR planning are key to a successful event because of the many moving parts involved. Our team found that it worked well being organized up-front and drafting the event communication summaries following with the customization of content for each channel. We also had a Google Doc with a social calendar and plenty of unique graphics to share. Starting the 32under32 Gmail worked well for one main outreach email for nominees and nominators, then Ad Fed MN filtered questions from the website and registration. Continuing to add new outreach and PR ideas, while remaining flexible is mandatory.

Social media was buzzing #32under32 throughout the planning sessions and we made hundreds of impressions when the nominations went public through local media help.

The BIO’s of the honorees at the event were told in 2 facts and 1 tail — tweets were deployed tagging the place of work and nonprofit organizations while the honorees’ BIO was read by our fabulous MC, Laura Fitzpatrick. Laura kept our attention and made us laugh while talking about Beyonce back-up singers, George Clooney wedding crashers and 90’s trend-setters… #nailedit
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cheers_to_thatIn summary, the #32under32 director role was a super experience to learn more about myself and take on an entire judging process from start to finish (and we know that finish doesn’t just mean up to the event).

As I move forward with other community initiatives and creative impactful projects, I look forward to the future years of #32under32. There are endless possibilities, every year will improve and be different. The best event advice I have is to experiment and improve the process always, remember in volunteer-work that as leader you have to keep people’s attention, inspire them and empower them and keep your director goals to 3 magic ideas…

  • Build awareness in the community – video promotion, sharable social graphics etc check!
  • Launch 32under32.com – align structure for future event years
    check!
  • Elevate the event experience
    check!

Keep pushing to be a better you,
MN Design Gal – Tricia
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Photo credits to: Jay Larson, Heather Hanson, Cathleen Olson, Snap Yourself 

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