Meetings

Managing Meeting Content

By / Jul 12, 2013 (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

There’s a lot of content developed and distributed around every meeting and event an association holds. How can an organization be more strategic about content creation and delivery?

As this blog post is published, it’s only three weeks until I head to Atlanta for ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Expo. (As I finished that sentence, my blood pressure rose as I glanced over at my to-do list for the next 21 days—yikes!)

As anyone involved with a big conference knows, meeting content comes from everywhere within an association.

My main responsibility at Annual is managing our conference newspaper Daily Now, which is published three times onsite. For the past few weeks myself and the rest of the Associations Now team have been off and running: Writing advance stories and as well as working on a refreshed design that mimics the new look of the print magazine. (A quick count shows that we will write and edit 50-plus stories in advance and close to the same amount onsite.)

This is my sixth year managing the project, and at the end of Annual, I know I always look back and say, “Well, that was a fun yet grueling three days, and I can’t imagine doing it every day.” But this is the first year where we’ll also be doing work on AssociationsNow.com, which includes our daily e-newsletter as well as each editor’s weekly blogging responsibilities.

Of course, we’re thinking of ways to be efficient, including how we can use some of the content we produce for Daily Now on the website and as fodder for our blogs as well. It’s a lot of content, but it’s also just the content our department creates around the meeting.

As anyone involved with a big conference knows, meeting content comes from everywhere within an association. Here’s a quick (and incomplete) list of some content that may exist around any association meeting:

  • Session descriptions
  • Tweets
  • Facebook posts
  • Instragram photos/videos
  • Magazine or web articles related to the meeting
  • Press releases
  • Meeting website
  • Meeting app
  • Speaker handouts and slides
  • Marketing materials

Here at ASAE we try to be as nimble and strategic as we can when it comes to how we produce and then reuse content in all of those places mentioned above, keeping both the staff’s sanity and our members’ content consumption habits in mind.

For the past few years, a group of us responsible for content within our departments (with the help of an Excel spreadsheet) has met every other week in the months leading up to the meeting in order to talk through and plan content and determine how we can use what one department has developed in other spaces. For instance, this week I sent a list of articles in the July issue of Associations Now related to Annual Meeting to our manager of social communications and strategy, so that they could be linked to in spaces like Twitter and Facebook.

And I was doing that, I started to become curious about what other associations are doing when it comes to not only planning content related to the meeting but also how and when they are delivering it to attendees or potential attendees.

I was at an event back in May, and one of the sessions I attended was made up of a panel of regular meeting attendees, who shared how they prepared for, participated in, and followed up from events as well as what they expected from event organizers.

One of the panelists said what he wanted most from an association was a meeting app that delivered content (e.g., articles, press releases, tweets) and information (e.g., speaker and registration announcements) related to the event year-round. He told the audience it would have more sustenance—that he wouldn’t only be using the app for three weeks and then deleting it—and, as a result, he would feel closer to the meeting and the related association throughout the year.

Not sure how feasible this idea is for most associations, but it does give everyone in the association meetings business something to think about. How is your association tackling content development and distribution when it comes to your meetings? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is deputy editor of Associations Now. More »

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