Our time in Indianapolis at the 2016 PRSSA National Conference (PRSSANC) is coming to a close, and our Regional Conference committee members from Grand Valley State University have learned immeasurable amounts of information (and have consumed numerous pots of coffee—yes, pots). Our favorite sessions at PRSSANC included “It’s Great to be a Girl” by Holly Wagner of Vera Bradley, and “Respectful Authenticity” by David Grossman of The Grossman Group. However, the session that ignited our passion the most was the Regional Conference Workshop led by the PRSSA Vice President of Regional Conferences, Nicole Price.
In this workshop, we collaborated with representatives from other PRSSA chapter’s who were also chosen to host a 2017 PRSSA Regional Conference. As a group, we talked about potential triumphs and tribulations associated with hosting a regional conference. These takeaways from our group discussion can apply to not only the planning of #PRinGR, but could also apply to future events that we may plan in our professional careers. Here are the biggest takeaways we gathered from the Regional Conference Workshop:
Something Will Always Go Wrong…
Plan for the worst. Having a crisis management plan set-in-stone to help overcome potential issues will help you in the long-run. Make sure event policies are in place regarding issues with registration and cancelations of vendors, as these issues frequently occur.
How to Ask for Funding:
Before asking for funding from potential sponsors, make sure to determine the value of your regional conference. By determining this early on, you can appropriately gage registration fees and what your sponsorship breakdown should look like. It’s also recommend that sponsorships are secured by an in-person meeting, rather than through an exchange of emails. Face-to-face communication is key. Digital communication leaves room for lengthy timelines and misinterpretation. (Keep in mind that professionals’ emails could be filtered prior to reaching your intended contact. This also complicates and lengthens the digital communication process.)
Managing Internal Communication
To plan a large-scale event such as a PRSSA Regional Conference, a well running conference committee is crucial to the conference’s outcome and overall success. Additionally, managing a committee is even more crucial to ensure that various tasks and deadlines do not fall through the cracks. Avoid this fallout by appointing one-to-two individuals as committee leads or managers. It’s also recommended that committee members use a project management system such as Basecamp (which the #PRinGR conference committee uses) to ensure that all committee members are aware of their responsibilities and timely deadlines. This will also allow team members to hold each other accountable, facilitate open communication and maintain overall organization.
In summary, we are still coming down from the ‘announcement buzz’ of being selected to host a 2017 PRSSA Regional Conference (Seriously though, someone pinch us because we still don’t think this is real life). Following the Regional Conference Workshop led by Nicole Price, we, as a conference committee, feel confident in our abilities to host an outstanding, eventful, and entertaining regional conference. We look forward to continuing our conference planning efforts within the months to come.
Is it too early to start a countdown for PRSSA National Conference 2017?
(P.S. If you attended PRSSANC, did you receive our Grand Rapids save-the-date postcard, and/or Generation Grand ‘koozie?’ If so, are you already smitten with the Mitten?)