Taking an event virtual for the first time typically causes fear for clients. Chicago State Foundation was concerned they would not meet their fundraising goals virtually and that they wouldn’t be able to entertain their guests visually when they initially came to us. By focusing on their mission, BlackOak was able to help them captivate their audience and inspire their donors. Meredith Oliver, a senior technical producer at BlackOak, discusses the challenges and outcome of the project below.
Q&A with Meredith Oliver, Senior Producer
LET’S GET INTO THIS EVENT. WHAT WAS IT FOR?
This event was the annual gala for the Chicago State University foundation. This organization supports students who are high performing with scholarships to the university to earn a degree.
NICE. BEING AS IT WAS A VIRTUAL EVENT, WHAT WAS THE “VENUE?”
To connect the program to the University, Chicago State Foundation wanted to take advantage of the broadcast studio on campus as their venue as it already housed a teleprompter, lights, cameras, and a backdrop.
WHAT SERVICES WERE WE ABLE TO ADD?
We provided additional microphones, audio, video, and a large LED wall along with the show technicians and production team. During the planning process, we worked closely with the studio manager to integrate the in-studio equipment at Chicago State with our equipment to make sure that all the pieces worked together for a seamless program.
THAT’S GREAT. WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES DURING THE PLANNING PROCESS?
The biggest challenge the client brought to us was taking their traditionally in-person event held at a hotel and turning it completely virtual while still inspiring donors to support their mission. We broadcasted from the studio into Zoom, giving it an elevated, production quality on an approachable, familiar platform.
HOW DID THE CLIENT HEAR ABOUT US, AND WHY WERE WE THE RIGHT FIT FOR THIS PROJECT?
The client heard about us from a great partner of ours as a referral. They trusted us, because we have an intimate knowledge of virtual events as well as the flexibility to work with any parameters set before us.
WE LOVE A REFERRAL. HOW WERE WE ABLE TO KEEP THE GUESTS ENGAGED THROUGHOUT THE EVENT?
The client kept the guests engaged by streaming pre-recorded videos, live in-studio interviews between crucial faculty members and administration in the university, and the student impact stories on how the scholarship shaped their lives.
IF SOMEONE WERE PLANNING A SIMILAR EVENT, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
I would say to think about what you would want to see on the screen as a virtual attendee and shape your program accordingly.
WHAT WAS THE FEEDBACK OF THE VIRTUAL GUESTS AT THIS EVENT?
The guests had a great time at the event. It was an approachable platform for them, and they had a wonderful time watching the impact stories of the students.
AMAZING. HOW DID THE CLIENT FEEL?
The outcome of this event made the client feel wonderful. It was their first virtual event, and it was a great experience for them.
Photography by Dear Floyd Photo
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