Catholic High School and How To Host a Virtual Event

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As countless groups and organizations have discovered in recent months, shifting from in-person to a remote event is no walk in the park. Pulling together a fully virtual or hybrid event that allows some in-person attendance requires a thoughtful, integrated strategy. Read more about how Catholic High School made the pivot to a virtual event during the height of the pandemic in 2020.


Timid truly fails to describe anything in 2020. Instead, it proved to be a year of pivots, painful decisions, tough calls and the occasional leap of faith. For well established organizations with strong traditions and tried-and-true annual events, many of which they depend upon for fundraising, 2020 posed significant operational challenges. At the same time, 2020 quickly became a year for innovation, experimentation, new ideas and discovering new skills.

Catholic High School for Boys found all the above to be true when it came time to plan for its 25th Annual Alumni Dinner. School leadership knew that crowded dinner tables for 600+ alumni for the annual homecoming and awards celebration were out of the question during a pandemic. Instead, they turned to Ghidotti to learn how to host a virtual event that stands out and celebrates their proud traditions in a way that would make both their Rocket alumni and current students proud.

Remote Event Planning

The first tip to remote event planning, particularly when you’re pivoting from a well established in-person event to a virtual event, is to realize that it still takes a lot of work. Maybe you don’t need to worry about catering, but you still need to make sure you engage with your key audiences just as well as if you had the opportunity to sit down beside them. You also need to identify what pieces of the traditional event make sense to carry over and which need to go on hold until another time.

In the case of Catholic High School for Boys, the annual Alumni Dinner was far more than a dinner. In addition to bringing alumni back together inside the school, the school wanted to celebrate three key annual awards: two Honorary Alumna awards and an Alumnus of the Year award. The event includes an annual “State of the School” address from Principal Steve Straessle. Knowing they wanted to keep those key experiences, we were able to build out a run of show for a virtual event and use that as our remote event planning guide.

Pulling All The Pieces Together

Once we knew what would be included, it was time to pull it all together. In order to give the sense of returning back to walk the halls of Catholic High, Alumni Director Steve Aday from the class of ‘02 recorded a point-of-view video walking up to the school at night and exploring the halls briefly before walking to the gymnasium where the dinner typically would have been held.

For the awards, just announcing people’s names is nice, but lacks the desired impact of seeing them there in person. At the same time, it’s hard to surprise someone if you need to specifically invite them to a socially distanced virtual event setting without explanation. Instead, the team at Catholic High recorded video as Father Fred surprised staff and teachers in their classrooms as he presented them with the awards. The result was genuine moments that we would be able to share with the alumni audience.

With all of the pre-recorded videos in place along with some dedicated graphic cards, we were able to begin prepping for our live broadcast that would be timed to align with what would have been the traditional alumni dinner event. In that same sense, email invitations with links to view the live virtual event were sent to alumni.

How to Host a Virtual Event

With all the pieces in place, we gathered at Catholic High early to set up for the event. We had arranged site visits ahead of time to solve any logistical issues, like ethernet port access for the strongest internet speeds, lighting and space limitations. Even if you’re familiar with hosting a virtual event, it’s important to set up early to ensure you have plenty of time to solve any unexpected issues.

Integrated Approach

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In order to create the most dynamic virtual event experience possible, Ghidotti built a setup that consisted of five independent video sources routed through a dedicated live switching device so we could easily transition from one to the other:

  • One high quality main camera for the main speakers
  • One wide-angle camera to give a sense of space and support speaker transitions
  • Several still slides for transitions, branding and key information
  • Four recorded video clips uploaded to our live streaming service to play during the live event
  • One dedicated computer to stream a much longer video highlighting the experience of Catholic High’s class of 2020

To ensure the highest quality experience too, we provided multiple lights, including a dedicated backlight for our live speakers. We also routed a professional microphone that could isolate the main speaker’s voice while minimizing echo in the large, empty gymnasium. Then, with everyone there early, we walked our key people through the run of show so they knew where to go, when to speak, when a recorded video was playing, etc.

Finally, the Ghidotti team used dedicated software to live stream the event to multiple video platforms. In the case of Catholic High School for Boys, that meant Facebook Live and YouTube, allowing as many viewers as possible to participate. Setting up those events and advertising them early also meant that alumni, families and current students could register to be notified once the live event began.

In the end, Catholic High’s virtual alumni event reached more than 2,400 people and earned waves of kudos from alumni and current students alike for keeping the school’s traditions alive in high style. We were able to raise a total of $39,309!

If you haven’t already, be sure to watch the full event above to see the final product and feel free to contact Ghidotti for ideas on how to pivot your next in-person gathering to a virtual event that you’ll be proud to share for years to come.

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The Ghidotti Team is overflowing with full-fledged rock stars. Sure – we’re looking for the best, brightest, most creative, most organized. You get the picture. But what we REALLY want is someone who we can laugh with, depend on, learn from and do great work together. Learn more about who we’re looking for and what you can expect.

Ghidotti is currently hiring for three positions listed below – Account Executive, Account Supervisor and Media Relations Manager.

Account Executive Job Description: 

In the Account Executive position, emphasis is placed on growing independent work within the areas of project management, client relations, media relations, digital/marketing, and/or lead generation among other skills. You are the face to our clients and will play an integral role in daily communication and should be able to demonstrate tactical excellence. 

  • Write client and internal correspondence effectively and with limited supervision.
  • Successfully plan and execute client activities such as media tours, digital and social campaigns, business missions and/or other special events. 
  • Proactively identify blog content story ideas and work with the supervisor to develop. 
  • Develop relevant blogs, e-newsletters and website content effectively and with limited supervision. 
  • Successfully manage independently the execution of all client content calendars, which can include media relations pitch calendars, blogs, social content and paid media campaigns.
  • Exhibit competency and efficiency in drafting copy for client marketing materials and/or campaigns, such as website content, e-newsletters, collateral materials, paid media campaigns, etc. 
  • As it relates to social/digital media, regularly suggest ideas, manage the planning, and comfortably execute campaigns on behalf of clients. Efficiency with Canva, a plus!
  • Assist in the management of interns, when applicable. 
  • Be proficient in WordPress.
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  • Depending on the needs of the service area, responsibilities may extend beyond the items above as skill sets, client contracts and other extenuating circumstances dictate.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Account Supervisor Job Description: 
In the Account Supervisor position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or creative/strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives.
  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on at least three clients.
  • Manage the implementation of work plans and ensure client deliverables are successfully met on deadline.
  • Play a leadership role in the sales process by identifying additional services to sell to existing clients and assisting with RFP responses, new business proposals, presentations, etc. with senior leadership or independently.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients.
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.
  • Begin to play a role in the agency’s marketing efforts, guiding aspects of certain campaigns and/or helping to execute in their areas of expertise.

Account Services: 

  • Play a clear leadership role in the planning and execution of integrated marketing campaigns for clients.
  • Develop and write comprehensive strategic marketing plans for clients.
  • Handle vendor contracts and ensure proper billing.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of successfully meeting deadlines and timelines.
  • Handle day-of logistics on behalf of clients, responding quickly and effectively.
  • Assist in providing leadership and professional development on client relations, helping team members improve their skills in managing conflict, presentations, sales, etc.

Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns, marketing collateral, etc.
  • Oversee the development of marketing materials and branding campaigns.
  • Manage creative marketing campaigns on behalf of clients.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms, and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for proposals, new business proposals and current clients’ marketing campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Media Relations Manager Job Description: 

In the Media Relations Manager position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the public relations industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives. 

Main Responsibilities – General: 

  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on media relations client accounts.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients. 
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.

Main Responsibilities – Media Relations: 

  • Develop strategic media relations plans, direct management and outreach for client accounts with the supervision of Senior Leadership.
  • Perform with Senior Leadership to prepare a plan for strategic crisis communications.
  • Manage and facilitate the execution of media relations outreach for special events, programs and major initiatives.
  • Perform as spokesperson and coordinates official responses to media inquiries.
  • Conduct media training with clients in preparation for external media interviews. 
  • Support framing and development of main message points for better positioning prior to media interviews.
  • Prepare speeches, talking points and varied communications materials assisting client spokespersons.
  • Write pitches, backgrounders, press releases, key messages and blog posts.
  • Manage and monitor reporter hotline, client media relations calendar, metrics, media relations processes and press release approvals.
  • Propose ideas proactively for media pitches to stimulate media coverage.
  • Consistently pitch stories and secure strategic media placements assisting client reputation and business goals.
  • Manage and supervise media events along with initiatives defining company stories.
  • Identify proactive stories for trade, business as well as consumer media across multiple client industries.
  • Develop and maintain close media relations to improve press efforts.
  • Identify brands promoting opportunities and improve awareness of services and products.

Main Responsibilities – Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns (webinar/live stream events), etc.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for new business proposals and current clients’ PR campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Rock Star Environment

We strive to create a fun, engaging atmosphere where high fives, chicken minis, and celebrations are commonplace. We lift one another up, honor achievements and reward hard work.

  1. Professional Enrichment

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  2. Community Engagement

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  3. Team Building

    Quarterly adventures for the team!

  4. Winter Recess

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  5. Summer Fridays

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  6. Volunteer Time Off (VTO)

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Apply for one of our open positions or just send us an email letting us know why you should be part of this Rock Star team. Email bethany@ghidotti.com.