Grab your popcorn, clear your calendars! Awards Season is here and it’s time for some always entertaining red carpet fanfare. But, if you’re an awards event planner, it’s also the perfect time to reassess what makes an awards ceremony successful and what makes it a Twitter target for something gone wrong.How could we ever forget the cringeworthy Oscars snafu when La La Land was incorrectly named Best Picture instead of the actual winner, Moonlight? (Watch, and cringe, all over again.)
It was arguably the largest blunder in Oscars history, but not alone in award event snafus.
There was also the time that Steve Harvey crowned the wrong Miss Universe. And the time John Travolta introduced legendary singer Idina Menzel's performance of "Let It Go" from Frozen by calling her "Adele Dazeem". And, unfortunately, there was the time Harry Styles of the band One Direction had to go to the bathroom and missed his award acceptance on stage at the BRIT Awards because the toilets were located too far from the stage.
As award season gets underway across the event industry, it’s important to plan all the millions of minute details that go into creating an awards gala and making it one for the record books– for all the right reasons!
Here are 9 things NOT to do at your next awards ceremony:
Don’t announce the wrong winner.
Let’s just get that one out of the way. The devil is in the details. Make sure your awards program is organized from the very start, with a clear entry and judging process and credibly determined winners. Print the winners’ names out correctly on cards and have them checked by a team of editors.
Tip: Choose an awards management software to help you keep every detail organized through every phase of your program.
Don’t choose an impractical venue
Your venue can make or break your awards ceremony. Make sure the space meets all your event needs while providing the pomp and ambience you’re seeking for the event.
Tip: Consider the music. It will set the mood for the room and can play in the background as winners walk on stage. It’ll also help direct your audience on when to clap and when to listen for the next award announcement.
Don’t have a boring stage
Create a sense of ceremony on stage to help make it memorable for the winners, announcers, and all your audience members who will be staring at it all night. Be sure it provides the backdrop you want for the celebration. And also be sure it’s clear of hazards, such as tricky steps or wires that might cause someone to trip.
Don’t hire an inexperienced host
There’s more to hosting an event than reading names off cards. An awards program has many moving parts and it’s important to hire a host who is proven and experienced. You’ll want someone who is fun and entertaining but also professional and organized. Someone who will make the event memorable, exciting and fun.
Don’t forget branding
If the event is hosted by your company, don’t forget to integrate your branding into the awards marketing, swag, and event space. This is the perfect time to name drop. Don’t be shy about it.
Be sure to provide the branding as inspiration for the event planners and graphic designers, who can incorporate your logo into the presentation templates, table cards and decorations, signage, and on stage.
And be sure to consider your sponsor and key supporters’ brands. Screens are a great way to showcase logos and show appreciation for their support.
Tip: Create a hashtag for your event and market it to your audience before and during your event to drive engagement and buzz around the awards and event.
Don’t forget the actual award
What is your physical award? Having a tangible, commemorative award is important not just for presentation but also for each winner. Whether it’s a trophy, plaque or certificate, plan in advance to provide something tangible that your winners can hold up in photos and take home at the end of the night.
Tip: Make it something original that links in with your brand. Think MTV and “Moonman”, The Oscars and well, an Oscar…
Don’t overlook flow
This is a big one. Since you’ll have audience members leaving their seats to come on stage, you’ll want to design and provide stage directions. It’s important to plan which direction your winners should walk on stage and which direction they should leave. It’s a good idea to have guides on and next to the stage who can help direct and control the flow of the event. You might also want to consider seating arrangements to make it easy for winners to get to the stage and accept their awards.
Don’t forget to record it
Award galas are the perfect opportunity for photos and video that you can use on social media, in your marketing campaigns, and at future award ceremonies. Be sure to have a photographer and/or videographer there to capture all the special moments.
Don’t forget to follow up
When the award event is over (you can breathe now!), be sure to follow up and ask for feedback. What worked? What improvements can be made? Your awards event will get better and better each year and feedback will only fuel that.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your guests how it is all going, sincerely. Show them you want to improve. Even if it is the best show on the planet, it can always be better. Your guests will feel the love.
Now that you’ve got these reminders top of mind, it’s time to grab your popcorn, put your feet up, and watch the red carpet unfold for Hollywood’s best live drama. We’ll see you on Twitter afterwards!