Delivering content to your members is a cornerstone of not only your publication program, but also your education events. As association publishers, we know that not all of our members attend all of our events. In a perfect world, they would. But because they do not, how do we share that information without reinventing the wheel? How can we showcase the content in the best possible way before, during and after our programs? Here are six ideas to help your publications and educational events better support and complement each other.
1. Go beyond an ad. Cross-promote your events in all your association’s publications—but there’s so much more you can do in addition to running a house ad. When you have a regularly published magazine, your content, if it’s mission-aligned, will likely fall in line with topics discussed at your education events. Consider these questions:
- Is your editorial calendar in line with broad issues that are discussed at your conferences?
- Are you covering your content through the applicable lens for your members?
Many associations have memberships that run the gamut from students to c-suite executives. While it is difficult to serve them all in one publication or conference, you can successfully integrate your content to cater to a cross-section of members.
I use the term education events loosely because this could mean an in-person conference, webinar or podcast, lunch-and-learn, or brown bag, etc. Have staff, freelancers, or volunteers cover the event and write an article about the topics and subsequent Q&A discussion during the event. This is an excellent way not only to generate content for your publications, but also to showcase the discussion.
It’s also a great way to showcase your volunteers. Many members covet a byline on your association’s blog or in your publication. Covering select sessions at your events drives home the message to those members and the profession in general who did not attend that the event’s content is something to take note of and hear firsthand. Think of it as your indirect sales guy.
2. Give sidebars new meaning. Sidebars help break up content and add an element of information that otherwise may be awkward to include in the main story. For example, you are likely housing your speaker’s content somewhere on your website, and presentation’s subject will likely pertain to something you are covering in your publication. Remind members and readers that the content is still there and provide access to it by showcasing it in a sidebar. You could have content available from a webinar, a whitepaper, or a slide presentation from an annual conference session. Use it. You don’t have to showcase the entire resource—just use a link, headline, and blurb.
And don’t forget your association’s other resources such special reports, webinars, podcasts, blog posts, and other gold nuggets of information that show your members that they have access to unique industry or profession information through your association’s website.
3. Ask speakers to convert their presentation into an article or interview them. This approach works best if you have your editorial staff attend the selected sessions and figure out which ones will translate into content for your publication. It also helps to weed out presenters who were less than stellar—you may not want to showcase their content in your publication, especially if it’s unlikely that their content will translate well in a new format.
Add an editor’s note at the beginning or the end of the piece letting the readers know that this topic was first discussed at your conference, webinar, etc. I have used this approach for years, and our publications have received many excellent articles.
4. When you have a hot topic of discussion, ask the speaker or panelists to write blog posts about it before the event. There is always some piece of relevant information that speakers wish they could include, but can’t because of time constraints or because it diverts from the subject a little too much. Not only is this a good way to showcase the content, but also it creates buzz about your event and may even increase the numbers from last-minute registrations or day-pass registrants.
5. Cross-promote your education event through Twitter. If your members are into social media (especially Twitter), and they have fast fingers, ask them which sessions they would consider covering for you. This approach works best live, but after the event, consider picking out the top five or 10 tweets from the meeting and using that information as a sidebar to post-event coverage. The great thing about this approach is that you are covering yet another session that may not be covered any other traditional way. It’s yet another insight into the education content that your meetings and events offer.
6. Additional ideas might include videos, executive summaries, testimonials, infographics and more.
- Video—Careful planning and scheduling can yield good video clips from members when they are onsite and give you a way to enhance content in your digital publications.
- Executive summaries—Certain content, ideas, or discussions can be repurposed and shared as resources for attendees as well as those who were unable to attend. Think of this as a note-taking service or perhaps even enhance these notes with new information to make them that much more useful.
- Testimonials—Leverage sample content, learning outcomes, ROI, and testimonials in next year’s event-marketing materials to make the promotion that much more compelling. When considering whether or not to attend an event, members always want to know what’s in it for them.
- Social media—Consider year-round opportunities to position your annual meeting instead of only focusing on it during the two or three months leading up to the conference; keep the conversations going.
- Infographics—Consider repackaging content into an infographic or other visually interesting format to help members and attendees digest and share information in a new way.
Even if you cannot implement all of these ideas, pick one that you know will work with your membership and is doable within any internal constraints you may have. Starting small is the first step to yielding better results for your educational events and your content.
This blog post first appeared in Association Media & Publishing’s e-newsletter, Sidebar.