There is something so exhilarating and yet so risky about real-time promotion during a live event. Will our message engage the audience? Will the timing be right? Will our technology even work?
Over the past few years, L&S has been fortunate enough to work alongside our clients on several large-scale events in the region. Ranging from conferences and conventions to a free outdoor concert featuring a few of the biggest names in country music, each event has its own set of challenges and parameters. But from what we’ve learned, there’s nothing like doing it live. Let’s talk about a few of our most memorable events and what made them so worth it.
Combine 25,000 Jackrabbits, Luke Bryan and the opening of the largest football facility in the Dakotas and you have one thrilling kickoff celebration. Alongside First PREMIER Bank, the exclusive sponsor for Jacks Bash, it was our job to make sure the event put our state on the map when it comes to the ability to host the biggest names in the music industry, while also raising awareness for SDSU’s successful football program and the brand new Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
From the day the first tickets were sold in April to the recap in September, it was all hands on deck. Videos, graphics, press releases, street teams and so much more went in to making this a night to remember for all concert and game attendees – and it paid off. With 31 earned media mentions, over 179 million online impressions and over 1,600 public posts that used #JacksBash, it’s easy to see that First PREMIER Bank’s generosity, attention to detail and overall strategy mattered in the minds and hearts of their audience. These numbers prove what sports fans and concertgoers know: live events excite people in a way few other things can.
Start with Heart
But all this engagement doesn’t come easy.
When putting on a live event, just about the only thing you can count on is that something’s gonna change. Deadlines, flight times, music sets and artist moods are just a few of the things that should be on your radar.
While working with the Sioux Empire United Way on a Heart concert that would kick off their (aptly named) Start With Heart campaign, our team gathered at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center for rehearsal at around 10:00 p.m. After spending hours setting up concert materials, we tested our graphics on the stage screens only to realize that their aspect ratio was not what had been communicated to us, meaning a complete re-do.
In moments like these, having a team on call comes in clutch.
The L&S team structure allows the benefit of working on smaller client-specific teams, while also having the luxury of pulling in talent from across the agency when needed. Thanks to this flexibility and a few true Extra Milers, our screens cleared the test by 10:00 a.m. the next morning, allowing our event emcees to have a clean run-through that built our client’s confidence.
When it came to showtime, we delivered the most epic campaign kickoff in SEUW history, growing attendance from around 500 people in 2015 to 8,214. The campaign ended about six months later and ultimately generated $10.3 million for the betterment of the Sioux Empire.
The Big 4-HO
While on-the-fly fixes are something you should expect, putting on a smooth show comes down to planning. Below is a screenshot of our team’s agenda for the Three Dog Night concert that the agency hosted to celebrate our 40th year in business (AKA “The Big 4-HO”). While it may seem slightly over the top, it’s the absolute best way to ensure your full team, event emcees, technical crew and band managers are ALL on the same page when it comes to who is pulling which strings and when. The exercise of creating this document is as vital as the document itself.
Your team should think and talk through every single portion of your event. What will the audience be doing at this time? What would be an engaging and relatable message to throw at them during this point of the evening? Thinking through your event from your attendees’ perspective is critical.
Tourism Conference, TJ’s Convention & More
A lot of L&Sers will tell you we love our jobs because no two days are the same, and live events like these bring out every “other duty as assigned” you can imagine.
Each year, our tourism and foodservice teams assist in putting on the South Dakota Governor’s Conference on Tourism and the annual Taco John’s convention, respectively. But we don’t just show up – we build them from the ground up. That means everything from helping concept the events’ themes to structuring their timelines to speech writing to deck building to video production to announcement VOs to social media integration to set design and onsite direction. We have people who have – and do – it all.
We also know how to take the show to the next level. We’ve found and scripted emcees. We’ve written humor, created custom graphics and visuals, driven talent to and from the airport, helped with lighting and special effects like confetti cannons (oh yes, we did!), and just about every trick in the book. When it’s showtime, that’s when we shine.
After the stage lights go off and the long day is done comes one of the best parts of the process: the silent, exhausted car ride home. On those drives, we get to consider the challenges we overcame and reflect on what it means to work in tandem with your clients on unforgettable events that create a lasting brand memory within the minds of their audience.
For us, that makes it all worth it.