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The Same Excitement, A Flipped Format: Translating the Annual Meeting in “The New Normal”

February 8,2021

Paige Sullivan, Saporta Report

Last month, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) hosted their first-ever virtual Annual Meeting & Awards Tribute, presented by PNC Bank. Normally a large-scale live event with 800+ guests, CAP’s marketing department transformed the occasion into an hour-long special, called Good Morning Downtown, produced by Raftermen. Inspired by local morning news broadcasts, the show featured informative and entertaining segments by CAP/ADID leadership, staff, and special guests. 

Engaging with a new format afforded us a tremendous (and sometimes overwhelming) amount of creative freedom. But we began scripting knowing there were a few “musts,” including the installation of our 2021 leadership slate and the presentation of our awards, which has become a hallmark of the event. Outside of those conditions, we worked collaboratively to expand the scope of the show to include a bigger cast of characters than usual, including a few very deserving CAP/ADID staffers who aren’t usually in the spotlight.

The result? Sixty-five minutes of fast-paced, information-packed segments, starting with an energetic opening from CAP/ADID President A.J. Robinson, show host, and words of welcome from Governor Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. 

Outgoing CAP Board Chair Eddie Meyers—PNC Regional President for Greater Georgia—presented the Dan & Tally Sweat Award to Alicia Philipp and “passed the baton” to CAP’s incoming Board Chair, Donna Hall, Publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Marcus Downtown Economic Impact Award was then presented to Tony Ressler, Principal Owner and Chair of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and State Farm Arena.

CAP/ADID’s own Vice Presidents of Marketing and Planning & Economic Development, Wilma Sothern and Jennifer Ball, then took viewers on a deep dive of the organization’s recent accomplishments, which range from the inaugural year of Arts & Entertainment Atlanta programming to the launch of ADID’s Social Impact Safety Team (A.S.I.S.T.). Ball’s segment focused on the real estate development news shaping the Downtown core. 

ADID Board Chair Craig Jones provided commentary on behalf of the Improvement District and lauded ADID’s annual award recipients, and CAP and ADID Board Member Lisa Harris, Senior Vice President at WarnerMedia, introduced the WarnerMedia Downtown Community Leadership Award – a tribute to Downtown Atlanta’s healthcare workers that included special remarks from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN. 

The final segment of the show, “Perspectives,” featured host A.J. Robinson in conversation with Dr. Lynn Paxton, District Director of the Fulton County Board of Health, Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore, National Center for Civil and Human Rights President & CEO Jill Savitt, and Sweet Auburn Works Executive Director LeJuano Varnell. Robinson discussed the issues uniquely impacting these local leaders and their institutions, as well as what they anticipate in the year ahead.

How’d we do? Here are few responses from our 400 attendees that we’re especially proud of: 

“Terrific, informative and fun ‘newscast’ – best show yet!”

“Thank you CAP for such great tributes and dedication to keeping us informed and moving onward and upward!”

“I really enjoyed the presentation. It was light, crisp, excellent format, good pace and content. Kudos to those who conceived and executed the virtual program.”

“I am continually impressed with the work being done by CAP and ADID. The projects completed in 2020 were exceptional, especially given the global pandemic. The future planning and developments are exciting and will continue to solidify downtown Atlanta’s substantial economic impact on the city.”

But some things are best experienced firsthand, so, please: tune in! Good Morning Downtown is now available online, along with additional event materials, at