Extraordinary Events: The Crunchies 2009

This is the first in a series of posts entitled “Extraordinary Events,” in which we will share observations about and best practices gleaned from events that over-deliver on the promise given to attendees.

This is a guest post written by Joey Mucha who attended this year’s Crunchies event and reported back for us.

Co-hosted by TechCrunch, GigaOM and VentureBeat, the 3rd annual Crunchies award ceremony and celebration filled every seat in the house. Attendees flocked to San Francisco’s 900-seat Herbst Theater to honor the people, products and companies that shape and innovate the online start-up world. The event attracted some of the most influential people from the online space, from venture capitalists who fund the most successful start-ups to developers who create the products we use every day. Here are five reasons this event was extraordinary:

Content: When asking attendees why the Crunchies was such a successful event, the answer was often simple: “The people.” The people made the content personal and engaging throughout. The event opened with a comedic introduction by TechCrunch’s own Paul Carr and Sarah Lane. Following the intro, several awards were presented to their respective winners, who were voted on by readers of TechCrunch, GigaOM, and VentureBeat. Because many of these readers were in the audience, the award acceptance speeches were immediately personal and relevant to the attendees. One-on-one interviews with some of the most influential people in the online space–including Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga and Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Facebook–were interspersed throughout the content. As an added treat, an a cappella performance by The Richter Scales kept the audience laughing.



Partnerships: When hosting an event, it’s important to partner with the right people and companies to ensure that the event reaches a significant portion of the target audience. The Crunchies effectively leveraged partnerships with three powerhouse blogs: GigaOM, VentureBeat, and TechCrunch. In addition to the co-hosts, partnerships were formed with companies such as uStream (to broadcast the event), Grey Goose (to provide drinks for the after-party), Eventbrite (to handle all the ticketing and payment processing), and DesignAboutTown (to design the web site and branding). The Crunchies leveraged standouts from several different industries for these partnerships, thereby increasing the sophistication and breadth of the event while distributing some of the work.


Technology:
Given that the Crunchies is a technology-focused awards event, the audience could not be expected to have much tolerance for technological mishaps. Anything from the sound system to the Twitter hash-tag associated with the event, no detail can be left behind. Immediately upon entering the Herbst theater, you were greeted with infrared ticket scanners which scanned your digitally-purchased tickets. When you got settled at your seat, you noticed a huge projector screen playing an Animoto-driven slideshow of photos from last year’s event (nice touch). Once the event began, you were reminded that the videographers around the room are broadcasting the event
live on the web for those who were unable to attend. By combining the right technologies at your disposal, you can create an experience that resonates with your audience.

Scarcity: Although not every event has the luxury of creating scarcity like the Crunchies show does, some components of the formula can be re-purposed. Instead of releasing all of the tickets at once, the Crunchies’ organizers released three waves of tickets. This not only makes potential attendees want tickets even more (if they missed them the first time), but also serves as a reminder that the event is rapidly approaching. By the time the third wave of tickets was released (and subsequently sold out), it was clear to everyone that the event was imminent. Even after the awards ceremony tickets sold out, the Crunchies’ organizers released a fourth wave of after-party only tickets. Many people who were disappointed to miss the awards ceremony tickets were excited for the chance to schmooze and mingle at the after party–all adding to the image of the Crunchies as a hot event.

After-party: With any awards ceremony or event, there should always be an equally entertaining, if not better after-party to follow. The Crunchies is no exception and their after-party sets the gold-standard in terms of must attend post-function gatherings. Whether you are the co-founder of Twitter or employee #794 at Facebook, after-parties are designed to make you feel like the center of attention. With the red carpet-esque logo covered backdrop and photographers snapping thousands of pictures, you couldn’t help but feel like a million bucks. This is the feeling you want all of your attendees to have at an after-party.

The Crunchies showed us how leveraging content, partnerships, technology, scarcity and an amazing after-party can contribute to an extraordinary event.

Post a comment with your tip on hosting an extraordinary event.

Photo credit: techcrunch.com