On August 19th, 2013

The Philly Geek Awards 2013: We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Posted In:
Geek | Philadelphia


Well, it's over. The third year of the Philly Geek Awards. And I'm really happy with how things turned out.

Lots of great press, including exclusive nominee and winner announcements with WHYY and an appearance on NPR, some spots in the Philly Metro, a cover page CityPaper story about one of the nominees, and more. One of the nominees even signed his name with Geek of the Year nominee in this Washington Post piece. Unreal.

As smooth as everything seemed to go the night of the awards, that sort of thing doesn't happen with an insane amount of prep. On a chilly evening in January, the team that plans the Philly Geek Awards met over slices of pizza to discuss the plans for this year's ceremony. We spent a lot of time talking about last year and brainstorming wild ideas for this year's event.

That's right. January.

Eight months before the actual event, we knew we'd have to hunker down and get to work as soon as possible, to make sure this year was as good, if not better, than the last. And year number three brought new challenges.

hosts picture

What will the production look like? Who will we hire to work on it? How many seats will we have? What's the budget? How much do we have to raise? Who will we approach for sponsorship? Who can we talk to about presenting? When will tickets go on sale? How much will they go for? When will we announce categories? What date will nominees be announced?

And perhaps most importantly, what did we learn from last year?

It took all of those months worth of late night meetings and intense debating among ourselves, which can be tough when you're with a group of friends. Mikey, I'm sorry I threw that chair at you that one time. But its during all of that, all the planning and arguing and heaps of coffee, that we end up making the changes that we hope will make the ceremony better.


So! What did we do different this year, and what did we learn?



1. PUBLIC NOMINATIONS: For the third year, we opened up the process to the public, and had people send in their picks. Using a contact form on the actual awards website (it's down now), people submitted their suggestions, and we pulled from a lot of them.

We had some complaints the past two years about missing things, and this was a way to ensure we'd get more tips. While the crew who works on the awards each year tries to stay well informed, we aren't perfect. We all have day jobs! Something incredible could slip under the radar, and we really didn't want to miss anything.

Armed with 600 emails from the community, we were ready. And on top of having a big pool of suggestions to pull from, I found lots of potential stories for future Geekadelphia pieces.

2. BROADER OUTREACH & RESEARCH: Something awesome happened this year when it was time to alert the nominees. I had to spend a few nights gathering up email addresses. I had to reach out to PR people, through contact forms on websites, etc.

This year when I looked at our 14 categories, there were 9 categories where I didn't know a single person we nominated. NINE.

We did our research. We read tons of articles on plenty of blogs. We listened to the public and their voices. And I'm so very proud of that and the amazing nominees in our list.


3. INVOLVED PRESENTERS: We spent a lot of time talking with each of the presenters this year, making sure they knew as much as possible about the nominees. And the people we picked? They really did their homework. It was incredible, getting emails from them asking for more information about this, more details about that.

The result? People who knew what they were talking about. Who knew about our community. Who were happy to be there. Also, OMG JOEL HODGSON OF MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000! How did that even happen?!

4. FUNDRAISING: The Geek Awards team was surprised to find out this year that the ceremony was going to cost quite a bit of money. We had to raise funds to put together our opening reception.

Using lessons from our friends over at Technically Philly and their Philly Tech Week event, we put together a detailed sponsorship form, with tiered rewards and benefits for helping out the ceremony.

Mikey did an absolutely incredible job putting that stuff together, and wrangled up sponsors. I really have no words for how amazing he was during this whole ordeal. And I can't wait to add someone to his powerhouse team of one. More on that later.

geek awards twitter

5. SOCIAL MEDIA: I was pretty against having a Twitter presence for the Philly Geek Awards, and just wanted to stick with Geekadelphia. I mean come on, I already manage my own account, the blog's, and all the ones I've got for work. Why rope in another? I didn't see the point.

Well, people used random hashtags, made fake troll accounts (I know it was you), etc... so we had to make something official. And I'm actually pretty happy with how it turned out. We had sponsors reach out over Twitter, interacted with nominees on there, and set up a nice base camp.

Also, the @PHLGeekAwards account isn't just me. It's a team effort, run by everyone involved. And while sometimes a vagrant tweet gets away (dammit Mikey), it's worked quite well so far.

Before the show, it became an incredibly valuable asset for getting the word out about extra tickets, sponsorship opts, etc. During the show, we roped in Allie Harch to handle both the awards and Geekadelphia social accounts. She was fantastic. Thank you dear.

6. A SUPER INTERN: Last year, the team went crazy with all the responsibilities we had to juggle. This year, we were able to bring on an amazing intern over at the Academy of Natural Sciences, who helped out with so much of the work.

Rob put together spreadsheets, built detailed lists of the nominees and their bios, helped generate early press releases, and wrote notes for presenters. He also did a lot of research. Seriously, the kid was invaluable.

Frankly I'm not sure if we would have pulled this year off without him.


But what about next year? How are we planning to grow?


bigger boat awards

1. BIGGER LOCATION?: It's an issue we're kicking around. This year the awards sold out in 90 minutes. NINETY MINUTES?! What are we, a... what's a hip singer you kids like these days? Whatever. That person you like who sings that song.

I'll admit, I've been the most stubborn out of everyone who plans the awards, insisting we keep it in one place. Maybe it's the owls and the dinosaurs, I don't know, but it just feels so right there. But with the costs and the capacity, it might be time for our little show to grow up even more. We'll see what next year brings.

2. BIGGER DEFINITIONS: I find that the bigger the ceremony gets, the more important it is we define what it is we're trying to do. There was confusion about whether or not the show makes money (it doesn't), why certain things are picked, why we have this category vs. that category, etc.

I think we need to define this stuff better, and we're going to work on that.

3. AND WHAT DO YOU THINK?: Do you have suggestions on how to make this event better? Please, email me (ericsmithrocks@gmail.com). I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Because its thanks to the community that this thing even exists, and we want to keep making it better.

Here's to next year, everyone! Thanks for coming. 

2 responses to “The Philly Geek Awards 2013: We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat”

  1. Jackie Chipotle says:

    I agree with the idea of a bigger venue!

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