P R E F A C E
For the past six years the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BC) has hosted an annual gala and awards dinner to celebrate individuals who have contributed to the accessibility, quality, equity, and joy of cycling throughout the Philadelphia region. In addition to celebrating this work, the event also serves to raise funds to support the Coalition’s advocacy and youth development programming. With Covid-19 posing a serious threat to the health of their members at a traditional gala, they decided to pivot to a virtual format.
T H E C H A L L E N G E S
There were a few obstacles that Synergetic and the BC team were faced with while planning the gala in a virtual format. First, the BC team had many contributors to the design and execution of the program, some working on the project from as far as the Caribbean! The project and account managers from Synergetic, Joe Cooper and Sara Beth Bristol, worked around the clock to ensure each of the BC’s executives felt their voices were heard.
Next, the BC team needed to find a way to celebrate their awardees and give them the attention they deserved. They wondered how they could achieve this in the virtual format, “how can we make them feel special without physically handing them an award and proposing a toast?”
In addition, they feared they would not be able to raise funds for their advocacy efforts throughout the year, which included some unprecedented accomplishments like getting approval for all-hour bike access on SEPTA buses and trains. Without these funds, they feared their efforts would be halted, leaving their mission at a stalemate in 2020 and 2021.
T H E S O L U T I O N
Through constant communication, Synergetic was able to provide the entire BC team with the confidence and assurance that all of their contributions would be included whether it be graphical assets, revisions to the script, or additions to the storyboard.
In order to resolve both the second and third challenges, Synergetic proposed a LIVE event with pre-recorded segments. This allowed for the inclusion of awardees from locations across the north east, as well as a live appeal for fundraising.
Synergetic hosted a full technical rehearsal prior to the live show, ensuring on-stage talent felt comfortable with their live segments, and our team felt comfortable with all of the graphic queues throughout the show, including playback of pre-recorded videos and award acceptances, displaying lower-thirds for presenters on stage, and even a live Zoom plug-in to the video wall in the studio.
Synergetic managed remote recordings of the awardees acceptance speeches. We spent hours on Zoom capturing high quality recordings from each honoree. We helped make sure the lighting, audio, and video of remote awardees were sufficient to provide professional, polished, pre-recorded segments to cut to in the live the show. Most importantly, this allowed for set changes during the live portions of the show – as the Coalition wanted to showcase multiple bikes that they would raffle and auction to raise funds.
In addition to these auction appeals, the Coalition hired a emcee and auctioneer to keep virtual viewers engaged in the 45 minute program. This live interaction from the stage helped offer the Coalition’s members an experience similar to what they were used to in the previous six years. The talented host for the night, Jeff Hammond, was able to boost excitement with his energy and live interaction with the Coalition’s youth on the video wall. Synergetic facilitated a pre-show green room with the Coalition’s youth program. When it was time for their recognition, we took the Zoom room feed live onto the video wall behind Jeff on stage, where he and the BC’s director could interact.
Through the inclusion of a third-party fundraising platform called GiveSmart, the Coalition was able to host a silent auction throughout the duration of their live show. Jeff Hammond was able to provide real-time updates on the items as Synergetic took the leaderboard full screen for viewers to see where the auction stood.
T H E R E S U L T
The Coalition’s event received over 400 streams on YouTube, and they were able to raise over $10,000 for the cycling advocacy efforts! Their team received raving reviews from their members and were entirely satisfied with the virtual format. Read for yourself what they had to say below:
I can’t tell you how happy we are with how the entire evening went. While I had total confidence in the Synergetic team, I had no idea that the team would be so large, talented and supremely patient with us newbies! The high caliber of everything was amazing and everyone worked so hard for the entire afternoon and evening to put on 45 minutes of a fantastic show.
My phone and email inbox are full of accolades. What a high!
And, we really did well! I think we exceeded our goal and I know it’s because people enjoyed the show so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
With enormous gratitude,
Sarah Clark Stuart, Bicycle Coalition Executive Director
“Sara Beth – we couldn’t be happier. I loved working with you and would be happy to spread the word. We got lucky when Jeff recommended your team. Really appreciate your flexibility, professionalism, and the fun we brought together…..can’t thank you enough!”
Alan Spooner, Bicycle Coalition Development Director