Hire the Pros or Do it Yourself? « The Conference Publishers

By: The Conference Publishers  09-12-2011
Keywords: Conference, Publishers, Conference Publishers

Hire the Pros or Do it Yourself? « The Conference Publishers

It’s a question every client asks at least once: Before I invest in a professional conference content service, is this something I can handle in-house?

The answer depends: on what you need, who’s available to produce it, the skills and limitations they bring to the job, and the other work they could (or should) be doing to make your conference a success.

Even if you end up producing your own publication, we may still be able to help. But here are some things to consider before you decide.

A professional reporting team is worth the investment if you need to:

  • Produce a session summary that reflects participants’ opinions, not the writer’s
  • Capture the details, in participants’ own words, from multiple breakout sessions
  • Report accurately on content that is complex or controversial (or both)
  • Make sure stakeholders can see their voices and views in your published report
  • Use objective, independent content as a backdrop for blogs, Twitter, and other social media onsite
  • Deliver polished news reports overnight, or while sessions are under way

If you decide to do it yourself, you should make sure that:

Reporting on a conference is meticulous work that needs constant attention. If a writer has another assignment at the same time—to coordinate media, facilitate the session, take notes on a flipchart, flip PowerPoint slides, or handle meeting logistics—both tasks will suffer. After you get home, the report will be delayed for weeks or months if the writer has to balance it against their regular work load. By the time it’s published, participants may have forgotten why they wanted to read it.

PowerPoints and flipcharts are tools that signpost a meeting while it’s in progress. They’re not a permanent record of discussion. Both formats miss the details that made it worth participants’ while to go onsite.

Serious deliberation and accurate reporting require people to listen to a discussion in different ways, so it’s very hard to do both. If a participant signs up for your meeting because they expect to have a voice, they may be disappointed—or deeply offended—if they’re asked to put their own issues on hold and take notes instead.

Some meetings try to empower participants by having them document their own discussions. If readers have any reason to doubt those participants’ independence and objectivity, the report will lose credibility. And so will you.

A team that produces a conference newsletter once every year or two is likely to work past midnight, every day they’re onsite. That means someone else will have to handle communications (and newsletter distribution) the next morning while the production team grabs a few hours of sleep.

Keywords: Conference, Conference Publishers, Publishers,

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