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Conference Circuit: 2014’s Events in Review

2014 was rife with incredible conferences that inspired attendees to think, collaborate, and act. In today's Conference Circuit, we highlight some of the year's standouts.

There’s an association for nearly everything, and we all know associations love events. Though we don’t have nearly enough space to sing everyone’s praises, we’re using 2014’s last Conference Circuit to look at some of the biggest themes and trends of the past year and perhaps inspire your 2015 conferences.

Becoming Social

Social media is now a given at conferences, with attendees using dedicated social media platforms to tweet, pin, and record event highlights. And all of this sharing gives associations a big promotional boost. The American Psychological Association, for example, took advantage of social media by assembling a dedicated Student Twitter Team to maximize event coverage during and after the festivities. E3, the most important video-game industry event, utilized standard social media outlets in addition to a Twitch live-streaming channel to document its extensive events.

Some associations aimed to not just document and promote through social media but also equip professionals with the digital tools for success in their industries. At its conference, The Learning Resources Network emphasized the importance of “merging of old-school print-based marketing techniques with new-school media,” and the American Academy of Religion’s meeting workshops gave attendees lessons in academic blogging, social media in the classroom, and web-based class projects.

Location, Location, Location

Event planners emphasize location for a reason. Sometimes the ultimate decision is influenced by regional institutions, as occurred for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ annual conference in Orlando, which was within driving distance of Busch Gardens Tampa and the Florida Aquarium.

The American Holistic Medical Association’s annual conference took another tactic by aligning location with the organization’s purpose. The conference was held in Minneapolis, one of the healthiest and fittest cities in the country.

Other events, like the 2014 Meeting of the Minds conference held in Detroit, spoke to the need to recognize the potential of economically distressed areas throughout the country.

Honoring Public Goods

Public educational entities, such as libraries and museums, may not get much appreciation from the general public, but fortunately, their societal importance was highlighted at several conferences this year. For example, the New England Museum Association aimed to position museums in a new, healthier light with Picture of Health: Museums, Wellness, and Healthy Communities.

The New England Library Association stressed the importance of the industry with its conference theme “Be Bold. Libraries in the Center Ring.”—an exposition on the role of libraries in the 21st century.

Keeping with the theme of promoting reading, the National Book Festival brought the independent-bookstore community to the forefront by selecting DC institution Politics & Prose Bookstore to be responsible for bringing more than 17,000 copies of more than 200 books to the event.

(Taylor Hinton/ThinkStock)

Morgan Little

By Morgan Little

Morgan Little is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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