The REGIOSTARS Awards: an initiative launched by DG REGIO in 2008, each year these recognise outstanding regional projects that make effective use of EU Structural Funds to bring them to life. Given that the EC considers the awards a flagship event, the stakes were high for ICF Mostra. And not just to ensure the ‘hitch-free’ organisation of the ceremony itself, that took place on 31 March at the stunning Bozar in Brussels. From attracting new stakeholders to the event, to coordinating the tasks of the expert jury, producing video material and securing media presence and coverage, we had our work cut out…
How to make this event stand out from other EC awards? Our dedicated ‘Secretariat’ swung into action to maximise audience presence, targeting around 600 individuals and organisations across the EU. We expanded the existing database with additional stakeholder mapping; then targeted 100 key organisations and a handful of VIPs with personalised phone calls and emails, pushing promotional activities to the limit alongside the usual invitations and reminders. This generated fruitful results, with more than a third subsequently attending. While this was going on, we took care of the jury meetings, convening the multi-country members in Brussels for an initial selection of 19 finalists (from 80 applications), and organising a second ‘finalist presentations’ meeting during October Open Days, after which a decision on the 4 category winners was taken. Needless to say, we really honed our coordination skills, organising travel and accommodation for hundreds of attendees to the awards.
The event itself created a fantastic buzz: a packed audience (over 400), a four-camera live filming set-up, a series of broadcast-quality animations presenting finalists and winners, a warm and engaging vibe created by the awards presenter, and a jaunty jazz band and delicious catering for hundreds of hungry participants… Of course, all of this benefited from a strong media presence. Alongside the EC’s own activities, we secured more than 30 journalists from around the EU, providing useful materials (to them and others who could not attend), managing interview requests in the pre-event press conference with finalists and winners, and ensuring country-specific background briefings with the EC on regional policy developments.