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Virtual Event Case Study: 2020 HEADstrong Limelight Gala Livestream

P R E F A C E

The HEADstrong Foundation is a non-profit organization that offers financial, residential, and emotional support to families affected by cancer. To support their charitable efforts, HEADstrong hosts a gala every year to raise funds for their mission and to spread the stories of those affected by cancer. As an event that exists to honor families in the fight against cancer, the specialized health sensitivities of their guests were a top priority. Due to the climate surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, HEADstrong decided to take the LimeLight Gala completely virtual.

T H E   C H A L L E N G E S

This gala is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser and is critical to their mission of improving lives affected by cancer. The HEADstrong Foundation needed to find a way to create a professional, branded program that offered their audience a similar experience to what they have provided in-person at their past events. They wanted high production value for their virtual experience so that viewers stayed engaged and did not get bored of staring at a computer screen for an hour. They needed to get creative with the virtual format in order to provide their honorary heroes, sponsors, and guests with an event that recognized recent groundbreaking achievements, raised awareness and money, and offered an uplifting experience.

T H E   S O L U T I O N

Synergetic proposed a pre-recorded video format which would highlight HEADstrong’s mission, patients’ stories, and even include musical performances and interactive ways for the audience to communicate and donate throughout the Gala. The pre-recorded format also allowed our client to edit and produce a flawless program for their viewers, which is not something you can ensure at an in-person event!

HEADstrong utilized their videography partner (New Pace) to shoot their remote speaker presentations and beneficiary testimonials over the course of two months. They utilized Synergetic’s studio stage to record the host portions of the program, which gave the program a professional and polished look as well as offered a sense of cohesiveness despite the many different segments they wanted to include.

Synergetic positioned the host – Thomas Drayton of Fox29 News – behind a lucite podium, on a stage with intelligent lighting fixtures and an LED video wall. This gave his recorded segments a glamorous feel that is typical of galas. We utilized the video wall behind him to display the various donation levels, as well as the Foundation’s logos and colors to keep their branding consistent and prominent. Our professional cameras offered a crisp, clear picture adding to the production value and quality of the program.

We were also able to stage what would feel like a live interaction between the host and some of the featured presenters through careful consideration of the script and transitions throughout the program. Thomas was able to introduce and greet the presenters from the stage, then their video feeds were presented side by side to imitate an interaction before taking the presenter full screen for their message or performance!

Synergetic facilitated the simulcast of the final program to HEADstrong’s YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Broadcasting to all three of these platforms gave them the huge benefit of reaching a much larger audience than they were usually able to reach at the in-person galas – which meant they raised more awareness and had greater opportunities to raise funds.

T H E   R E S U L T

Last year the HEADstrong Limelight Gala had an attendance of 500 people at the venue Vie in Philadelphia. In 2020, their livestreamed Gala reached over 900 viewers on YouTube and Instagram, and another 2,400 viewers on Facebook – almost 6 times the amount of people they reached last year!

The livestream went off without a hitch and viewers raved about the experience and what they were able to accomplish together despite the restrictions during these unprecedented times. With constant on-screen prompts and reminders from the host throughout the program, they were still able to raise critical funds for their mission. Had they cancelled the gala altogether, their efforts would have suffered from a lack of donor support.

Read below what the Founder of HEADstrong had to say about her experience with our team and studio:

“Boy oh boy how pleasantly surprised we were! We are pulling of a virtual gala, our first one ever, and there’s a lot of trepidation and nerves. We arrived today at Synergetic, the studio is absolutely incredible! The staff here is incredible! We are just so grateful to this team. If you are a non-profit like me, please consider using Synergetic for your event.”

Cheryl Collelouri, The HEADstrong Foundation