For 20 years, the Greater Orlando chapter has been putting on and growing its annual
LEO Awards. From a small BBQ to show appreciation to local law enforcement, the event has bloomed into a 500 person event featuring elegant awards, excellent community support, media coverage, and more. Learn what the event organizers have learned over the past 20 years that has made the LEOs what it is today.
Please enjoy this Q&A with LEO Awards Chair Dave Bareno, CPP, Senior Director, Global Safety and Security for Marriott Vacations Worldwide.
How did you manage the event planning process, including securing a location, logistics, and determining and finding speakers/presenters?
The location is primarily driven by availability. The convention space in the hotels here in Orlando is at a premium. That being said, we try to partner with hotels that are like-minded in the support of law enforcement. We expect the hotel will provide free parking, top-notch audio visual, and low-priced food and beverage. We use what we call a guest presenter rather than "speakers". The guest presenter is usually a high-ranking ASIS leader or a high-ranking law enforcement official (FBI Director, US Marshal, Homeland Security Director). To get the best guest presenter, requests are sent out six months prior to the event.
What strategies were most effective in building awareness about the event with both the general public and within the law enforcement community?
We developed a list of the law enforcement agencies and their Chiefs or Sheriffs. In the beginning, we were relentless in contacting them via email and phone. Agencies get dozens of requests for these types of events so we had to continually tell them we were an organization of Security Professionals (If you have a law enforcement officer in your chapter it helps if they are the main point of contact with the agencies). Once we had a few events and the Chiefs and Sheriffs experienced the program we no longer had to chase them, they were waiting for the invitation. The program's sole focus is on the officers, no other business is conducted during the event. We also gave the program a recognizable name "LEO (Law Enforcement Officers) Awards" as a brand that would be easily remembered. We count on our chapter members and the media releases to build the needed awareness with the general public. Although, our main targeted audience for the event, besides law enforcement, is security professionals and sponsors.
How did you raise funds or secure event sponsorships?
The LEO Awards is funded by several levels of sponsorships. Our partner sponsor, Radio 1 Motorola is our largest contributor. Our Platinum Sponsors logos are in the programs and displayed on the walls during the event. Gold Plus Sponsors are security guard companies that want to display their belief in the Public-Private-Partnership model, this sponsor level includes one of their uniformed guards on stage during the awards program presenting the awards to the officers. We also have Gold, Silver and Table Sponsors. The goal is to have a level of sponsorship for everyone. All the sponsorships provide a table of 8, 4 law enforcement and 4 from the sponsor. This allows the sponsors to spend time with the officers and build relationships. All the Gold and above sponsorships include an honoree table used to seat award winners. The bigger the sponsor the more recognition and the closer to the front of the room!
If applicable, how did you involve local media to drive news coverage?
We send out several press releases to all the media outlets. We will usually get a few minutes of coverage on the local news. Our main media partner is Orange TV, a local community channel that records the entire event, conducts interviews, and then creates an edited, well-crafted video that is played several times on Orange TV. We also use their video feed during the event to display the program on two large screens. Orange TV also provides us with a full-length video as well as a short clip to use for social media.
What lessons did you learn that will help improve future events?
The LEO Awards began 20 years ago as a small BBQ to show appreciation to local law enforcement officers. It has grown into an event of 500 people (half of the attendees are law enforcement) with beautiful awards and excellent community support. We try to improve on the program every year. This year we moved from a basic audio visual package to a full blown audio visual system to include top shelf lighting, signage, and displays. The key to a successful event is to provide as many awards and recognition as possible within a 1.5 hour program.
Check out the
ASIS Orlando Facebook page for more images and videos from the event.