How to Create a Solid Plan for Distributing Your Conference Proceedings to Attendees
Maybe you hired a conference recording company for your last event. Maybe you’re thinking about hiring one for your next. The problem is you need to find a good way to distribute the audio and video. You want your organization’s conference proceedings to stand out, to engage attendees, and to provide an ROI for your association that you can be proud of.
First off, let me explain what I mean when I say “conference proceedings.” Traditionally conference proceedings were a collection of papers, abstracts, presentations, and handouts that were presented at a professional association meeting, conference, or expo and distributed to attendees in a big bulky binder. More recently they were video and audio recordings handed out on CD or DVD.
But times have changed for the better. Web apps and mobile devices have revolutionized the ways attendees can interact before, during, and after the conference. Conference proceedings have now gone completely digital, or in the cloud, and can be accessed from anywhere at anytime.
None of that matters though if you don’t have a foolproof way of getting your conference proceedings out there to your meeting’s attendees.
Some organizations offer attendees free conference proceedings upon registration. Others ask attendees to pay a small fee to access the proceedings post event. Either way, getting the content to attendees is utmost importance in terms of ROI for your association.
Without further adieu, here are ten simple tips that will maximize your conference proceedings ROI:
10. Promote Your Conference Proceedings Offsite
It is extremely important that you raise awareness about your event’s conference proceedings. To increase the amount of attendees interested in revisiting your meeting’s proceedings, you need to continually remind them that they exist. Sometimes an attendee who failed to purchase or download your conference proceedings is trying to remember something from the event months later. A gentle reminder might inspire them to act!
Promoting your conference proceedings offsite can happen before or after the meeting. Mentioning on your website or through videos you post online that your event will be recorded and that these recordings, along with course materials, slides, and other valuable information, will be available for purchase or download is one way of doing this.
Another way is through email or other types of content marketing. Creating a newsletter or blog that keeps your attendees informed with news pertaining to your event is a great place to mention your conference proceedings. That constant reminder will really solidify what your organization offers. Check out Corbin Ball’s guide for effectively communicating with your members to learn more.
The best way of getting the word out to attendees is placing an option to buy your meeting’s proceedings directly on your conference registration form. Every single attendee sees your conference registration form when they decide to buy admission, so it’s the one place you can be sure that this type of information reaches everyone. And your attendees will be happy that they have one less expense to itemize, as the cost of the conference proceedings will be included in the cost of registration.
9. Promote Your Conference Proceedings Onsite
Promoting your conference proceedings onsite is just as important as promoting them offsite. If you want to maximize your distribution (and therefore your ROI), then informing your attendees while they’re at the conference, in the thick of all the excitement and great opportunities for learning new and interesting things, is something you don’t want to miss out on.
Signage and other banner advertising is a great way of doing this. The Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions did a wonderful job reminding attendees to download their app and access their conference proceedings at the ACEhp 2014 Annual Conference in Orlando. They placed signs around the venue and their moderators reminded attendees during each session that this option existed (something we’ll talk about further later on in this article).
It’s also a good idea to set up a booth at your association’s trade show that offers conference proceedings demos to your attendees. If your proceedings are for sale, attendees will have a chance to understand the benefits of purchasing them. If not, you can use the opportunity to troubleshoot or educate attendees how to use your conference proceedings platform. Always ask your vendor if they’re available to be onsite so they can help you with this process.
8. Integrate Your Conference Proceedings with Your Meeting Agenda or Event Schedule (aka Your Itinerary Planner).
Every event has a meeting agenda or event schedule. Most are paper handouts or brochures. But c’mon… this is 2014! Your conference’s itinerary planner can now be online, in the cloud, and on your attendee’s phone or tablet!
And the best thing about an online itinerary planner is that your conference proceedings can be fully integrated. Talk about maximum outreach and the best ROI possible.
A good vendor can even limit access, allowing all of your attendees (or the general public) to view your conference’s schedule of events, but allowing only certain attendees who have bought your proceedings or have some other type privileged access to download your conference proceedings.
Having conference proceedings built in with your itinerary planner is also a great idea if you want attendees to have complete freedom in planning their meeting education at your event. Going forward, this will be crucial. The Millennial Generation is all about customization and personalized authenticity in their experiences. Having an app or website that attendees can access anywhere will ensure they are engaged when and where they want – onsite and offsite.
7. Ensure Your Conference Proceedings Are of the Best Quality Audio Possible
No brainer, right? Unfortunately a lot of associations get burnt with bad audio. Make sure you’re hiring the right vendor to record your event’s audio and video so you can get the best possible conference proceedings. If not, nobody will ever buy or download your proceedings again, and they’ll be very angry with your organization’s current conference proceedings.
Get reviews from other associations like yours, search around online, and be sure to ask the vendor for testimonials or referrals. A good vendor will have all this information ready to go. And if the pricing seems too good to be true, it probably is. The last thing you want is to hire a bad conference recording company and produce low quality conference proceedings just to save a few dollars. Not only is this a surefire way to hurt your ROI, but it’s also likely to hurt your organization’s image.
There are few vendors who do everything, but if you’re lucky enough to find one learn as much as you possibly can about their offerings (and yes, CadmiumCD does do it all… just in case you wanted to know!). Having one company to record your conference, edit your audio, and produce your conference proceedings will allow you to retain a similar level of quality across the board. But again – and I stress this – do your research! Ask for testimonials, get a demo, and find out as much as you can. You certainly don’t want mediocre quality across the board.
6. Remind Your Attendees That Your Sessions Are Being Recorded
Put up signs around your conference session rooms that remind attendees that the meeting sessions are being recorded. Ask your moderators and speakers to make attendees aware as well.
This is a perfect opportunity to make attendees aware of your conference proceeding offerings. Have moderators tell your attendees that if they’d like to access today’s sessions again, simply purchase or download the conference proceedings online, at the conference’s information desk, or through the mobile event app.
Your attendees are more likely to focus on what’s being said onsite, engage with the speakers, and take away much more knowledge from your sessions if they’re confident they can return to the material through your conference proceedings. With the right mobile app, they’ll also be thrilled that they can take notes beside the actual PowerPoint slides being presented. That way, instead of trying to remember what that chicken scratch in their notebook was trying to say (we’ve all been there!), they’ll have a great point of reference back home or in the office.
5. Ask Attendees to Live Tweet Your Event Sessions AND Get Speakers to Engage with Them
Social media at events is all the rage nowadays… and for good reasons! Educational meetings are not only a place to keep current on the latest findings in a specific industry, they are also a great place to meet new people, make professional connections, and talk to thought leaders first hand.
Your conference is probably already engaging attendees online (and if you’re not, it’s very important you start!). And with the right mobile event app, your attendees don’t even have to leave your conference’s app to connect to social. But let’s take it one step further.
Traditionally you only encouraged attendees to live tweet your event with a singular general hashtag. The following method, however, will expand your outreach exponentially.
Having attendees live tweet your conference’s sessions with a specific hashtag for that session (for example: “@JohnSpeakerman How did you become such a great speaker? #EventName #SessionName”), will create a great avenue for attendees and speakers to engage without running a clunky mic around the room. It will also allow every attendee to get their question or comment in, and it will create a platform where the conversation can continue post-conference.
But at this point you’re probably thinking, “How does this impact my conference proceedings?” I’ll tell you!
Asking your conference speakers or presenters to take short breaks every couple of slides to respond to live tweeted questions and comments will enhance your conference proceedings astronomically. When an attendee accesses the session post conference, they often have questions. This method ensures that the maximum number of questions are answered, so every attendee can find what they’re looking for.
If the speaker doesn’t have time to answer everything (they probably won’t), attendees following that session’s hashtag can use each other as a source of knowledge to get to the bottom of things. It will be an ongoing conversation that will live on well after the conference, so that both you and your attendees can get the maximum ROI from your conference proceedings (they’ll love you for being so cutting edge!). This is going to be the future of meetings education, something we here at Cadmium like to call Continuous Education.
Oh, and don’t forget to remind your attendees that the session was recorded afterward too! They’ll be very enticed to relive the presentation through your conference proceedings after such an engaging session.
4. Brand Your Conference Proceedings to Fit Your Association’s Image
What is the value (in terms of ROI) of your event’s conference proceedings if they’re not uniquely identified with your association? Good conference proceedings build your distribution platform around your association’s image.
Back in the olden days that meant your conference proceedings binders had your company’s logo front and center, as well as within the binder itself, between the pages. Today things are a little different. Online proceedings must have your association or event’s logo in the banner of the webpage that matches your association’s own website.
Your mobile app must also have a banner that matches your association’s brand, and the icon that attendees see before opening the app must also match your image. These elements must look clean, professional, and like they were made for and by your company – not just thrown together. This is essential for maximum ROI.
3. Sync Your Conference Proceedings Audio with Presentations Slides & Posters
I’ve mentioned above that your attendees should be able to take notes beside your speakers’ presentation slides. But in order to do that you need to have a powerhouse vendor with the technical know-how to do it. What would make it even more engaging for your attendees, more enticing for them (and therefore great for your association’s conference proceedings ROI), is if your conference’s recorded audio was also paired and synced with your conference proceedings.
Technology like this automatically changes the presentation slides as the audio plays. Your attendees can take notes and draw on the slides as if they were right there at the conference with their laptop or tablet in hand. It’s the total conference experience and the only post-meeting educational experience your attendees will ever want again.
2. Sync Your Conference Proceedings Video Too
What would amaze attendees even more, what would practically force them to download your conference proceedings without thinking and hold your association in the highest regard, would be if your conference proceedings not only synced presentation slides with audio, but also synced the slides with video recording of your conference’s speakers.
It’s rare that conference proceedings are this good, but there are a few gems out there. If you want your attendees to enjoy the ultimate post-conference experience and hold your organization in the highest regards, this is sure to do the trick. There is simply no other way for attendees to continuously educate themselves that matches this, and no better way for your organization to maximize your ROI.
1. Make It Mobile: Get a Native Conference App & a Mobile Friendly Website for Your Proceedings
Up to this point I’ve assumed you’ve gone mobile. If you haven’t, this is absolutely essential. Many simply don’t take an organization that isn’t mobile friendly seriously. That will become an even greater truth as the Millennial Generation grows up and starts attending your conference more frequently.
The best mobile apps are native to both Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems, they are usable on tablets AND smartphones, and feature fully functional conference proceedings no matter what device your attendees are using.
What many meeting planners forget though is that mobile doesn’t only mean mobile event app. Your event website, itinerary planner, and/or conference proceedings site should all be mobile friendly. That way, Windows phone users or those with some other operating system can still experience great conference proceedings and meeting schedules from their phones, even if they can’t access the full functionality a native iOS or Android conference app offers. Always remember to ask your vendors if these things will be created in true HTML5 and if they are responsive. If the answer’s “yes,” you’ve got nothing to worry about!
If you know of any other ways meeting planners can enhance their conference proceedings’ ROI, or if you’d like to share a time you amazed attendees with your event’s conference proceedings, drop us a line below, or get in touch on twitter (@CadmiumCD). We can’t wait to hear from you!
Written by Mike Doane