Goals: Because everyone needs a hero, especially during a pandemic, the NJHOF produced an inspirational virtual event honoring the 2021 inductees to build its brand and garner its widest event audience ever. 

Strategy and tactics: Rather than producing the traditional live red-carpet event for just over 2,000 attendees, the pandemic prompted the NJHOF to produce a fast-paced virtual program hosted by celebrities that could be available to a much larger broadcast TV and social media audience. The NJHOF employed the following tactics to air and promote the program:

  • Partnership with PBS and Fox affiliates to air the program on multiple days
  • Produce and air 30-second PSAs to promote the program
  • Premiere the program on NJHOF YouTube and Facebook channels
  • Boost memes and videos on Facebook to promote the event
  • Media relations to all appropriate media outlets
  • Email campaigns
  • Use YouTube Live to air a pre-program memorial ceremony

Execution of Pre-ceremony program: Singer Sarah Dash was slated to be inducted in 2021, but she passed away on September 20, just before the virtual ceremony. At the request of the Sarah Dash family, and with only 24 hours’ notice, the NJHOF broadcast the four-hour memorial service on its YouTube Live channel in advance of the virtual induction ceremony. 

Program production: The 13th annual New Jersey Hall of Fame Virtual Induction Ceremony was hosted by Danny DeVito with special appearances by President George W. Bush, Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Snyder-Murphy, Chelsea Handler, Patti LaBelle, Quincy Jones, Keith Richards, Robin Roberts, Judith Light, Al Leiter, and Nona Hendryx. There were special performances by John Pizzarelli, Philadelphia Grammy Chapter performers singing in tribute to Sarah Dash, and Rory O’Malley, former King George in Broadway’s Hamilton, singing in tribute to inductees Alexander Hamilton and gay rights advocate David Mixner. The inductee class ranged from founding father Alexander Hamilton to the Baseball Hall of Famer Monte Irvin. Other inductees included singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, dynamic businesswoman Louise Scott, famed photographer Dorothea Lange, and the late Supreme Court, Justice Antonin Scalia. As the nation marked 20 years since the devastating September 11 attacks, the Hall of Fame announced that this year’s Unsung Heroes would be the thousands of 9/11 first responders who suffered complications and passed away due to their service.

  • The one-hour ceremony premiered on Saturday, October 16 on My9NJ and on the Hall of Fame’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, with re-airings on Sunday, October 17, Saturday, October 23, and Sunday, October 24. It also aired on NJ PBS at 8 p.m. October 20, as well as on October 22 and October 23.
  • Multiple 30-second PSAs were produced and aired on Fox and PBS partner networks to promote the virtual ceremony.
  • PSAs and memes were boosted in advance of the premiere on Facebook. 

Evaluation: Viewers

Pre-ceremony Sarah Dash Memorial YouTube Live event:

  • 500+ in-person attendees
  • 23,215 YouTube views

Total broadcast viewers: 24,879

  • My9 Fox: 20,700
  • NJTV: 4,179

Total social media views: 59,311

  • Facebook: 56,700
  • YouTube: 2,611 

Evaluation: Earned media

  • 81 articles
  • 446.19M Total UVM