Image courtesy of “Between a Rock” on flickr.
As we count down to midnight on New Year’s Eve each year, our attention is focused on Times Square in New York City. There, a ball made of Waterford Crystal descends 77 feet in 1 minute. When the ball touches the ground, millions of people, both on-site and watching remotely, cheer, “Happy New Year!”
For every New Year’s Eve growing up, I made sure to stay awake to watch the count-down on television. In college one year, some classmates and I decided to brave the cold and experience the celebration in person. We never did get close enough to see the ball drop, but “just being there” was worth it.
Let’s consider aspects of the Times Square Ball that you can apply to your events.
Create a Focal Point
What is “New Year’s in Times Square” known for? The Times Square Ball, of course. What is your event known for? If there’s no clear answer to that question, then you should create one. Figure out something unique and special to focus attention around. Perhaps it’s the game show that you host or the great evening entertainment you bring in each year. Create a compelling focal point and you make your event memorable.
Build Up to a Compelling Close
The Times Square Ball is 60 seconds of “action,” but people gather in the square 8 or more hours earlier. Having a “compelling close” to your event helps to build up anticipation, which makes the “close” all the more compelling. Make sure your events have that “can’t miss moment.”
Create a Tradition
According to Wikipedia, “The first New Year’s Eve celebration in the area was held in 1904.” If you combine a great event with a compelling focal point, you create a tradition. A tradition helps to build brand recognition around your event. And, it gives people a reason to return to your event next year.
Create a Digital Extension to Your Event
According to Wikipedia, one million gather in Times Square (at the face-to-face event), while one billion watch on television. Television creates a digital extension that allows the entire world to catch a glimpse of the Times Square celebration. And just like B2B events, the live broadcast of the Times Square “event” doesn’t cannibalize your audience, it encourages attendance at the face-to-face event the following year.
Create a Programming Channel for Your Event
New Year’s in Times Square has “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” (now Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest) and many other programs. Your event needs a programming channel that on-site and remote attendees can tune in to. In the same way that Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest convey what’s happening in Times Square, your event needs a virtual emcee to connect with your digital audience.
Isn’t New Year’s in Times Square a great “event?” It’s got a focal point, a tradition, a compelling close and a great set of hosts. I’ve been “attending” for years and look forward to this year’s event. Now that I live on the West Coast, however, I’ll have to tune in at 9pm local time. Happy New Year!