Oct 012012

In this current series of blogs on organizing conferences, we had so far looked at the various phases of organizing a conference,  how to set up a conference organizing structure and the planning phase of the conference. Today’s blog is about publicizing the conference, conference registration and recruiting presenters for the conference.

Publicizing The Conference

Publicizing the conference is fairly straightforward when all the attendees are members of the sponsoring organization. In such cases publicizing the conference may be limited to calls for a presenter and sending out preconference registration materials. In many instances, these steps are made even simpler by publicizing the information on a website.

In other cases more extensive publicity, over and above contacting prospective participants and posting information on the internet, may be necessary. Traditional print advertising is still a highly effective way to make information about the conference publically known. Journals and newsletter, read by the target audience or published by the sponsoring organization, should especially be targeted as means of publicizing the conference.

Another effective means of publicizing the conference is through posters placed in strategic places and announcements to organizations and institutions within the field of interest. Local and national media are excellent places to post stories, interviews and press releases regarding the conference. It is also possible to publish your press release online to specialist press release websites. Posting news about the conference to conference related blogs will also help getting the word out about the upcoming conference.

Word of mouth is an effective way to get news out of the conference on a local level. Social media sites have also made it possible for news to be spread by word of mouth on the internet. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linked In make it easier than ever to spread the news about a conference, both locally and internationally.

Pre-Conference Registration

It is vital to have some kind of preconference registration process in place. Requiring participants to register prior to the conference will provide the organizers with an estimate of how many people will be attending the conference. This figure will assist organizers to make sure that there will be the right amount of food and materials available. Registration also helps the organizers to plan the amount of sessions and space required for the conference. In the preregistration process, participants also receive a solid date for which to plan. Usually, for small one day conferences, an ‘I will attend card’, phone or email is all that is required.

The preconference materials should have as much information about the conference as is available. It should include a schedule of activities including workshops, keynote speakers, special events, field trips, entertainment and team building activities. Conference fees are usually paid on registration, and the preconference materials should be sent several months in advance of the conference. If possible, the forms can also be posted on the website of the sponsoring organization enabling participants to register online.

Recruitment of Presenters

If the conference presenters are from the same pool as participants, call for presenters will be similar to the preregistration process and can be largely accomplished online. Certain presenters, such as keynote speakers, should be contacted personally by the conference organizers. Presentations for academic conferences are usually in the form of scholarly papers. In these types of conferences, papers or outlines are submitted to a panel of experts for acceptance.

This concludes all the planning required before the conference takes place, in the next blog will look at the running of the conference.

Resource: Community Tool Box: http://ctb.ku.edu/

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