Days have passed since election night and news events teams across the U.S. are still working round the clock to provide facilities for Members and clients. Journalists and producers who have travelled in from all over the world, many at short notice due to lengthy visa applications, rely on Eurovision to help them deliver quality coverage back home.
After all, this is what we do best. We plan, we scrap, we plan again!
Like the Eurovision Song Contest, US elections planning starts as soon as president elect takes residence at the White House. The operation is very complex. Leading up to the election night itself, there are already several events to plan for. We think of them as a warm-up. There are the Primaries, the National Conventions, Presidential debates and the dozens of rallies across the country on both sides.
The drawback, unlike in the Song Contest, is that in most cases, we never know where these events are going to take place until a few days before.
Then comes the election night itself, with its multitude of locations, like the rooftops overlooking the White House and the hotels and the candidates’ headquarters for the night, whose locations are generally disclosed a day or so ahead.
This year everything was complicated by COVID, meaning it could have been a huge operation or a no operation at all. Sarah Lanningham, vice-president of Eurovision Americas, tells us why:
Social distancing, hand sanitizers and plenty of masks. Most importantly, planning such a huge operation in the middle of a pandemic involves taking risks, both financial and logistical.
The organizing team in Washington found it challenging to put together people and resources. Trying to bring in crew from different countries, almost impossible. The radio team, for example, could not secure a visa for any of its engineers or producers.
Yet we did it! Thanks to local talent and virtual training sessions, like Manuela Puggioni, on-site radio producer and Micky Curling, EBU radio engineer, explain:
From exclusive rooftops overlooking the White House to the back of a car park in Wilmington where now President-elect Biden eventually appeared. No matter if it rains or the sun is shining, EBU producers with their professionalism and enthusiasm are there to make sure our Members and clients make it on air. After all, this is all that matters. Our priority is to be where they want us to be, and to get there before they do!
While COVID changed the way we worked in many ways, it was clear that many things remained the same. Being in the most relevant locations with access to the necessary credentials and with a great team of professionals on the ground remained incredibly important to our Members and clients.
And the uncertainty surrounding travel restrictions and the safety of operating during a pandemic made the EBU’s role even more important. Our planning throughout the year and the dedication by our teams in the U.S. and around the world allowed us to make covering such a complicated event, as straightforward as possible.
Our close relationships with the U.S Networks, campaign organizers and service providers around the country allowed us to be in the best possible position to react quickly and turn up large-scale events no matter where the Presidential candidates turned up.
For future events we think it would be important to look at ways we can further support our Members and clients including shared correspondents, remote productions and expanding our offerings.
But it remains clear our experience and resources on the ground continue to remain as relevant as ever, especially in these uncertain times.