Strategy | Platform Setup | Coaching | Production
Every four years, the Arlington, VA-based International Foundation for Electoral Systems’ (IFES) holds its U.S. Election Program (USEP), a multi-day conference that brings together leading elections experts to support accountability in the world’s democracies. IFES is an international, nonprofit organization founded in 1987, that reaches over 200 million people with civic and voter education in over 145 countries. As part of its commitment to adaptation, innovation and resilience in the wake of COVID-19, the 2020 USEP went virtual for the first time in its 33-year history. IFES knows a thing or two about event planning, but Virtual USEP 2020 required an event platform solution that could navigate the logistics of multiple languages, conflicting time zones, networking opportunities, social media integrations, contests, video forums, field reporting and live support. And We & Goliath knows a thing or two about … all of that.
We & Goliath helped IFES transform USEP into a thriving online hub that showcased USEP’s packed agenda of panel discussions from academic experts, a (state-level) Secretary of State, democracy think tanks and political organizers. Topics ranged from the impact of COVID on voter turnout to the role of youth activism in political movements. The Virtual USEP 2020 event lobby also included options for attendee networking, an immersive social media wall, an “Ask a U.S. Elections Expert” video forum, and the “This Is What Democracy Looks Like” photo and video contest, which encouraged visitors to upload media to be considered in one of five prize categories.
The event lasted six days (October 27 – November 4), four of which had multiple sessions with different formats, including sponsored sessions from Microsoft, which presented its Defending Democracy Program and featured a speech by Microsoft president, Brad Smith. All sessions were broadcast live with real-time translations in Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, French, Russian and Spanish. Attendees could submit questions in these languages that would be translated for panel moderators.
Election Day itself included expert commentary alongside live reporting from 5 different polling stations around the United States. With over 2,493 registrants from 130 countries around the world, Virtual USEP 2020 carried on a tradition and brought it virtual. Panel sessions were interspersed with custom-illustrated “Whiteboard” animated videos that addressed topics like Gerrymandering and the Voter Rights Act — all with the five language translations. Recordings of each day’s events, including their captioned translations, were posted on IFES’ YouTube channel to become the focus of virtual “viewing parties” internationally.
06Live Technical Support
We conducted streamlined technical walkthroughs and speaker trainings for the over 35 guest speakers featured over the six days of Virtual USEP 2020.
From the animated Whiteboard videos to generating an event-specific logo and custom graphics for outreach, we ensured a visually seamless and consistent brand presence for USEP.
Accessibility was of equal importance to synchronizing six spoken languages in one event. To achieve this we created an ADA-compliant website in WordPress that mirrored the event lobby, and included sign interpretation and closed captioning in every language category for sessions and videos.
Following technical walkthroughs, dry run, and backstage prep, our chief producer merged their live speakers with animated lower thirds, with pre-produced video clips, and images into a TV-Quality livestream production.
We tapped into our network of videographers and sent out production crews in five cities to capture what early voting looks like around the country. Their elections experts then commented live on those pre-chosen clips.
Our team remained on standby throughout the days of the event and the weekend in between, regularly monitoring for attendee support queries. We also provided IFES with direct contact channels for escalated matters.
Our illustrator/animator, copyeditor, and voice-over artists collaborated on four animated topic tutorials, or “Whiteboard Videos,” that educated attendees on everything from the history of Gerrymandering to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These videos also engaged event viewers at strategic points between live segments.
The accessibility page featured the whole event schedule with translations for each session.
The event lobby featured a social wall, where attendees and post-event viewers could follow the conversation via a hashtag feed that included shared media.
Attendees were invited to submit entries in a photo & video contest, titled, “Show us what Democracy Looks Like.” Winner recognition was given across 5 elections-related categories.
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