People's Choice Awards Tap Social Media to Increase Voter Participation

The People's Choice Awards after-party

Photo: Brett Alphin Photography

A record-breaking 60 million fans voted to decide the winners of Wednesday night’s People’s Choice Awards, which took place at the Nokia Theater for the first time in the show’s history. Although that number is likely inflated by repeat voters hitting the People’s Choice Awards’ Web site—the voting system has been criticized in the past—this year’s turnout is still significantly higher than last year’s 13 million, when online voting was already in place. So what prompted the surge in participation?

People’s Choice president Fred Nelson credits the increase to a number of new voting initiatives. “As social networking sites become more sophisticated, we’ve tapped into all the ways fans gather,” said Nelson. When voting on PeoplesChoice.com, fans had the option of publishing votes on Facebook and MySpace pages with a message that read, “Vote for my choice.” Nelson also cites partnerships with MySpace and Wonderwall that drove visitors to PeoplesChoice.com and the advent of cell-phone voting as contributing to the increase in votes.

“We really try to reinforce that fans have control,” Nelson said. In that vein, organizers opened up attendance to the public, working with Ticketmaster and selling tickets to the show for the first time. Proceeds from the tickets, which sold-out and ranged in price from $35 for a single ticket to $800 for a four-person V.I.P. package, went toward producing the show and benefiting charitable partner Children’s Safe Drinking Water. Of the close to 7,000 people who attended the show, most purchased or won tickets through radio promotions. “The executives and sponsors who dominate other award shows are the minority at the People’s Choice,” said Nelson.

Close to 200 fans packed bleachers set alongside a 165-foot-long red carpet outside the theater. Inside, giant screens frequently featuring the new People’s Choice logo—a television, movie projector, and headphone icon—dominated the stage. New show producer Mark Burnett, who also produces the MTV Movie Awards, added film spoofs featuring host Queen Latifah to the broadcast.

Following the show, 600 guests, including talent and executives from show producer Procter & Gamble walked across the L.A. Live courtyard to the Conga Room for the after-party. Nelson tapped Sequoia Production’s Andrea Brooks to produce the event. Brooks and her team opted to keep the decor in line with the Conga Room’s existing Latin look, bringing in couches and ottomans in deep red tones to convert the main room, V.I.P. areas, and even the venue’s stage into lounge areas. Metallic red and copper fabric topped buffet tables, as did rustic-looking white bricks stacked neatly around menu items.

While 60 million individuals logged on to vote, close to 10 million viewers tuned in to the People's Choice Awards, which beat competition during its time slot and saw an increase in viewership from last year's 9.4 million.

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