Behind the Scenes-Sun Devil 100-Class of 2020

Sun Devil 100 Graphic

Back in early March, Tonya Gray, ASU Alumni Association Director, and her team started to discuss and plan the celebration for Sun Devil 100-Class of 2020. The event was going to look much like it had in past years or so they thought. By mid-March, it became very clear that the event would in fact look nothing like it had in the past due to COVID-19. As the team began to plan, there were SO MANY questions!

What will an awards ceremony look like in a virtual setting?

How do we keep the audience engaged? 

How do we make sure the honorees feel just as special as if they were in-person?

Two words quickly came to mind:

1. SAFETY

2. OPRAH WINFREY

Ok...that's three words but, you get the point.

Safety was top of mind for those that would be in-studio AND producing a program with "standards" that Oprah Winfrey could attach her name to! 

Enter Video West (a production studio), after seeing a virtual awards ceremony they had worked on with the Tempe Chamber we decided to see how they would approach Sun Devil 100 “The Virtual Experience”. Video West had successfully produced virtual events for other organizations and the ASU Alumni Association was next up. Weekly meetings ensued to get on the same page. This was the team's first large-scale, virtual event with many moving pieces, and only 6 weeks to execute. It was GO TIME!

Emcees were secured from the Phoenix Business Journal and Arizona Family, safety protocols were discussed and implemented, the script and run of show were drafted, videos were produced, graphics were designed, rehearsals were scheduled, awards were ordered, and honoree gift boxes were assembled and shipped. The team started to figure out their new role in producing events during a pandemic.

Safety Protocols were followed by each and every person from ASU and Video West while on-site for rehearsal and day of. Masks were worn at all times unless, on camera, staff measured and taped markers on the floor for speakers to ensure proper social distancing, and gloves were worn when handling items that were considered “high touch”. Sanitizing wipes and hand sanitizer were readily available around the studio space. Each staff member had a headset that was specifically for them and was wiped down after use. Protocols were taken seriously and followed by all, even those in the control room. The production was unlike anything the team had done before and the buzz in the room was palpable. The level of engagement witnessed was such a wonderful surprise and the virtual Sun Devil 100-Class of 2020 was a success! The honorees and attendees had a great time and provided amazing feedback.  The virtual realm of events comes with a wider reach and this event proved that to be true with attendees viewing from near and far.

No one knows what 2021 will bring but as proven in 2020, flexibility and creativity are key!

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