The Public Affairs Conference is a major event each year on campus, and our office has always put considerable effort into creating the conference website and promotion before and after the conference takes place.
This year we went one step further and also added a new mobile app to the mix. I would like to share all aspects of how we market the conference, with the hope that others can use this information as best practices when it comes to marketing their own events on campus.
The Public Affairs homepage design is updated at the beginning of each fall semester to incorporate the logo and theme for the year. The Public Affairs Conference website is also updated at this time, though only as a basic shell. Once the speakers for the conference are confirmed, the conference site takes shape with the full schedule and speaker bios posted at the beginning of each spring semester.
The key features of the conference website include:
- A photo slideshow at the top of the page featuring the plenary speakers
- Three text content areas highlighting the year’s theme, schedule and logistical information such as parking and directions
- A RSS feed of Public Affairs blog posts concerning the conference
- Social media buttons linking to Public Affairs social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- Various links to past conferences, plenary speakers and past testimonials
A new mobile app was created for the conference this year, and was made available on both Android and iOS devices. This app is specific to this conference, and we will be using it as a springboard for future mobile app development, as well as creating new versions of the app for future Public Affairs Conferences.
The app allowed the conference attendees to:
- View the event schedule
- Learn more about the presenters
- Manage session schedules
- View the map of the venue where the sessions were being held
- Interact with others via Twitter and Facebook
Each year, our office draws up a promotion schedule that details what aspects of the conference will be promoted when and where. Promotion for the conference begins in early March, which is a little more than a month before the conference typically takes place.
The main areas of promotion are social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, but we also utilize media from past conferences available on YouTube and iTunes U, which we will discuss in further detail next. The Missouri State homepage is also a key promotional area, with photos, videos and Go Maroon! features highlighting the conference in the weeks building up to the conference, as well as during the conference itself.
Some examples of how we schedule the promotion for the conference include:
- On each Monday, a feature on a plenary speaker is posted to Facebook, with a link to their bio and plenary session.
- Promotion of the #msuconnect hashtag used during the conference on Twitter.
- Highlight media from last year’s conference to help get people excited about the upcoming sessions.
- Post logistical information about parking, shuttles and location on Facebook and Twitter the day before the conference begins.
- Share the mobile app on Facebook and Twitter before and during the conference.
- During the week of the conference, the media hub on the homepage focuses on the conference on the Photos, Videos, Tune in and learn, and Go Maroon! tabs.
- During the conference, we post updates every few hours updating everyone on that morning or afternoon’s sessions and plenary speakers.
- We also post photos of the conference sessions as they are happening periodically to Facebook and Twitter.
Our office also records audio of all of the panel sessions at the conference each year, as well as video of select plenary speakers. Once the conference has concluded, we start posting all of the available media online: both audio and video to iTunes U, and video to our YouTube channel as well.
Collecting and posting this media after the conference serves many functions:
- Featuring the media on the Missouri State homepage and through social media outlets allows us to continue to promote the conference even after it is over.
- As stated previously, we often use media from the previous year’s conference to build excitement about that year’s upcoming conference.
- The media also acts as an archive of each year’s conference, and this is shared by the committee each year to recruit speakers for future conferences.