Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Event Possibility

AS the date for the event was approaching, facebook attendees started to grow in numbers. We already made a couple of appearances in the morning show and an interview published in express tribune.

WE started online booking of tickets since mid June. The ticket itself was free, but it was required for entry so it would enable us to count the total number of attendees.

It was a simple process, where online buyers would enter the number of tickets they require, enter their email address and then they would instantly receive the ticket thru email as a pdf file attachment containing the barcode ticket.

The online event tickets were made possible thru www.eventbrite.com

We were to scan those bar code tickets and know the total number of attendance.

The online ticket gave us a head-start as people started booking tickets, and we were getting in a better position to know the number of people already bought tickets. The initial pace of ticket booking was slow, as the initial target was set to 1,10,000 people. That was a daunting task.

By mid July me and Abid had somehow made up our minds that it was not possible to hold the event now as we were standing no where. We did not have any thing to set our foot to. We were waiting for the right time to announce the cancellation to the people.

No permission means no security plan, which meant no sponsors.
Permission was the single most biggest hurdle.

In between all this we had a meeting with a couple of companies who were willing to help us in the event management, but then again we did not have any where to start from so they were also kept hanging in balance and some how lost their interest in the event.

A few companies offered us to cover the photography and video for the event, but this was bit too early to think about photos and videos of the video.

A boy scouts group offered us their service for security and parking.

Things were jotted down but it all seemed like a lost cause.

Eventually on Friday, July 28th 2011, we received an email from GWR stating that the record we would need to break would be 5248 of Philippines and not the initial record of 104637 of vande matram.

This was the starting point of our event !

Both me and Abid could not believe it that GWR finally accepted the claim, specially when GWR was hosting a program in India and also the Indian event was a highly marketed event. We were dancing with joy in our respective offices.

This was the starting point of the event for us but we only had 14 days to manage things.

Both me and Abid did not have any prior experience of organizing or managing sizeable event.
The next thing was to call the event management company once again and tell them of the new target as it would now be easier to manage people and we can now host it to a more private venue.

Focusing sponsors, thinking of prospective sponsors for the event and how to reach them. Event management company was to reach and pitch them the idea. It later emerged that nothing was done in that direction by them, or if it was we dont know.

Now a venue was needed, a more private one where we do not need to involve government agencies and which is big enough to host at least 6000 people.

For this we wrote to a few universities like CBM, SZABIST, IQRA asking them for their permission to hold our event. We were hopeful that since this would be a major event some university may offer us their campus. CBM offered their campus to us and were very accomodating and helpful in offering us their campus but cbm campus would be too off the way for the public.

We decided to stick with a venue in dha as it requires minimal government interaction and only permission from dha is required to hold events.

We then visit DHA Zamzama club to know the available date of 13th August 2011 for the event and made an interim booking. Zamzama club demanded Rs. 64,000 as the venue rent.

By this time TV ONE host, Faisal Qureshi joined the cause and used a few of his connection to help us. Hence he contacted DHA administrator and appraised him about the event. DHA administrator was very helpful in this regard and allowed us the venue free of cost.

First and the biggest hurdle gone !

Friday, September 16, 2011

No Permission

While we continued to market and get excited about our national anthem world record event - the biggest hurdle was getting the permission from the authorities.

We started contacting every tom, dick and harry who we thought could help us in getting the permission for the event. We were common man with no links in the high-ups and whatever links we had didnt respond on our time of need.

We wrote to various government organizations asking them for permission.
Our initial crowd was 1 lac 50 thousand, naturally no one was willing to take the risk of such a big crowd, specially when we were not politically associated.

If we were any political party or a power group, we could have easily got permission but since we were common man everyone was of the view to let go the idea - It was not possible.

Seeing all the political parties getting permission to hold their rallies and dharna was frustrating us more, as we were kept hanging and waiting and waiting.

The only reply we received was from the city government that they have received our application and have forwarded to the concerned department and they will contact us soon. But they never contacted us.

My only ray of hope and thought was if GWR reduces the target and disqualifies vande matram as vande matram was not the national anthem of india but was listed as the national anthem.
For this I started faxing GWR every 10 days, waiting for even a little confirmation or any response from them or acknowledgement or reply or whatever that can satisfy me either way.
GWR wasnt replying either.

I also sent them email thru their online form, still no reply.

The target remained 150,000
No permission was insight.

I used a few contact to get permission from the governor house and involve the governor sindh in this, however mqm resigned just a few days later and governor also resigned. The plan was hanging in balance.

We continued promoting the event and it started getting some attention among facebook users and among some media houses and we got our first interview published on the express tribune blog.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/195168/karachi-youth-hope-to-sing-their-way-into-the-record-books-and-beat-india-while-theyre-at-it/

Various tv channels and media houses approached us for promoting our event but no one was willing to be associated with such a big event which involved to much security risk and which needed so much work to be done as without the permission for the venue the event was standing at zero point only.

Our second break-thru was when DAWN NEWS TV channel approached us and offered us to be our exclusive media partner. The idea seemed good , but I was of the view that we should not make any EXCLUSIVE media partner as this is a national event and all the tv channels should be allowed to cover this event and not just one, as making exclusive media partner reduces the interest of other tv channels.

Dawn did not stop us from inviting other channels to the event, however when we contacted other tv channels and told them of our association with dawn they were reluctant to offer any publicity or support to the event as seemingly they were of the view since we have already signed an exclusive media partner other tv channels will not and cannot cover this event.

This was a set back to us as we were unable to get due coverage in the media - the event continued to remain the facebook event, while we made a few appearances on some morning programs.

Time was getting shorter and the event date was coming closer.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Will the Guinness Record for National Anthem come to Pakistan ?

Finally the month of ramzan is over. Its been a busy ramzan mainly due to the national anthem world record event.

Initially when the idea first came to my mind, i did a little research to see if any such event has taken place any where else in the world. Googling it a bit, made me land on the Guinness World Record website, and where i found that the record for "most people singing a national anthem" was with India, where 104637 sung "vande matram"

My initial thought was that if we do this event on the night of 13th August 2011, just on the night of our independence day, we can find enough people on the streets to break this record.

At that time I was unaware about the counting methods we would required to count and other such requirements that we would need to fulfill for GWR (Guinness World Record)

However, I was confident that we can do it with the help of friends and people as we are nation of 18 carore and only karachi has a population of 2 carore and it was only 1% of karachi population.

I contacted my friend abid beli and put forward this idea to him. He bought the idea instantly and started working towards this project.

Our initial start took from facebook , where we created an event page and started inviting our friends and family to the event page.

At first i was of the opinion that may be not many people would be encouraging of the idea as this was a huge task , gathering more than one lac ten thousand people.

However, with in a couple of days of launching this idea our facebook page had an attending of around 2000 people, average 500 people per day.

People were appreciative of the idea and were praises for the idea.
This realy built up my confidence that this can be done.

A few people were worried about security - understandably , because of the conditions we were going thru. Osama bin laden recently caught from abbotabad and pakistan naval head quareter came under attack.

However, more people started to appear of the facebook event page and it gave us a ray of hope that this can be done.