Tapped Out at Annual? Unleash the Power of Members as Communicators

ASN BLOGBy Paula Eichenbrenner

As an association staffer, you want to communicate all of the highlights from your conference as the meeting transpires. But it’s difficult to adequately cover multiple plenaries, hundreds of presentations, and dozens of networking events – all happening while you’re performing a long list of on-site duties. Why not invite your members to help?

At my society, we host a competitive application process to select conference bloggers and video bloggers from among our membership. Bloggers are expected to submit 3-5 guest posts for the ASN blog while attending annual, and video bloggers are required to upload at least two videos per day to conference playlists on the ASN YouTube channel.

We offer these “reporters” creative autonomy and encourage them to write about (or record) anything they deem of interest at the meeting. However, staff does maintain an editorial calendar of overall coverage, which helps us suggest topics, facilitate speaker interviews and ensure that member submissions don’t overlap with other communication efforts. We also equip the video bloggers with flip-cams and provide technological support as necessary. If your organization is considering a similar program, plan to allow all bloggers access to the on-site press room, as a quiet space with WiFi is essential to filing on-site coverage in a timely fashion.

The first-person experience that emerges as our volunteer bloggers narrate their journey through the Scientific Sessions is remarkable. Each blogger lends subject matter expertise based on his or her specific discipline within the field of nutrition science. Additionally, each member brings his or her perspective as a graduate student, early-career professional or scientist when reporting on presentations or encountering other attendees. This first-person point-of-view would be impossible for staff to replicate, even if our communications specialists could be everywhere at once during the meeting!

Bloggers cover our keynotes (Presidential Symposium: Developmental Origins of Health and Disease), as well as original research presentations in mini-symposia and posters (Nutrition and Cognitive Outcomes). Vloggers capture man-on-the-street style interviews (Advice for Young Scientists), and interact with leaders in the field (Interview with Advances in Nutrition Editor-in-Chief).

Staff repurpose the guest blogs and video files in other platforms, including our conference newspaper Nutrition Notes Daily and marketing emails. Ultimately, blogging for ASN is an exciting engagement and skills-building opportunity for members, as well as a strategic way for staff to increase our conference communications.

Paula Eichenbrenner, CAE is Vice President for Advancement and Director, Foundation at the American Society for Nutrition. Paula loves to connect with other communicators in non-profit management – find her on LinkedIn or send her an email.

Learn more! Attend the ASAE 2015 Annual Meeting session “Stretch Your Conference Content” on Sunday, August 9, 3:30 p.m., in room 310B of the Cobo Center. The panel will include Paula Eichenbrenner as well as Jenn Waters, assistant publisher, CustomNEWS; Shawn Boynes, executive director, American Association of Anatomists; and Jenifer Hamilton, director of communications, American Society of Hematology.


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