The ASIS National Capital Chapter (NCC) held its 15th annual Private Security Appreciation Day on 7 November, 2017. Approximately 100 security professionals attended this celebration of the work that private security officers do every day.
That attendance number is four times as high as it was when the NCC launched the event in 2003. ASIS Regional Vice President James Saulnier, the NCC's committee chair in charge of organizing the event, has been involved in its planning for a dozen years. We spoke with him to learn about how Private Security Appreciation Day has evolved over the years.
Can you provide some background on the NCC's Private Security Appreciation Day?
The Private Security Appreciation Day event started in 2003, as a way to recognize those individuals who are employed in the private security arena. It was important to the early organizers that this event not be viewed as a "Money Making" exercise, but rather an event to celebrate the accomplishments and heroic acts of private security personnel. We've continued to manage the event in this spirit over the past 14 years. While we generally receive applications from contract guard force organizations, individual companies with proprietary guard forces, building managers, and retail loss prevention managers are also encouraged to participate. Early events numbered 25 participants and over the years the chapter has enjoyed attendance of over 100.
How do you manage the event planning process, including securing a location, logistics, finding presenters and even writing the program?
Our event is normally held in August with planning beginning early in the year. We establish a committee of security professionals and chapter officers, who will select award recipients. We review the previous year's event, evaluate the continued relevance of the awards, and explore funding options.
This year, due to scheduling conflicts, we moved the event to November. We began to advertise the event and actively seek nominations in mid-June, and we allowed the nomination period to run until mid-July. The award selection sub-committee convened in late August to review the submissions.
We generally hold our event at one of our regular event venues, which are centrally located in our chapter area of responsibility. The National Capital Chapter is blessed with volunteer leaders who continue to serve after their terms expire and the institutional knowledge continues. Over the years, we have developed a program and agenda that fits well with our audience. We continue to tweak it, removing things that seem out of date and adding new fresh ideas to keep the event fast moving and relevant.
How do you advertise the event?
We advertise through personal emails to major guard company executives about six months before the event, and through emails generated every two weeks by Cvent, our event management system software, which we begin sending two months in advance.
How did you raise funds or secure event sponsorships?
In past years we have sought sponsorships from police and guard force suppliers, educational institutions, and local business owners. The vast majority of the support comes from the contract guard force companies themselves who purchase tables and bring many, if not all, of their nominees to the event each year. In addition to table sales, the company executives, sometimes at their own expense, add gift cards, merchandise and tickets to major local sporting events. The chapter's annual budget sets aside funds for the actual plaques, mementos and gift cards that are presented during the ceremony.
What strategies were most effective in building awareness about the event?
Beginning early in the year, we reach out to guard force executives, building and property managers, and government agencies with personal emails and letters educating them about the program. The event is listed on our chapter website months in advance and is mentioned at chapter meetings. As the date for submitting nominations gets near, we again send personal emails to company executives and begin advertising through our chapter event management tool about six weeks in advance of the event.
What lessons have you learned that have helped to improve the event over the years?
Listen to the participants, and engage the corporate security leaders who support the event to learn what they like or dislike. Make subtle changes to the program to give it a fresh look while keeping the tradition alive.
Private security officers today are on the front lines, and although not police officers, they are often the first on scene to assess the situation, engage emergency forces through 911, and attempt to maintain some order until their arrival. It is important to recognize their efforts and accomplishments and in doing so, plant the seed for their continued success, the chapter awards program and the chapter through increased awareness and membership.