"[Change] starts with people. Building trust within the organization, getting [the staff] to buy into the vision, the new revenue streams. Giving up what they know and think they're good at can be frightening. You have to convince them that it's absolutely necessary and they can trust you."
That quote came from Dan Oswald, CEO of BLR, on the final, actionable-packed SIPA 2016 day. The depth of information was just dizzying, and I will try to convey some of it over the next few weeks. But there's a reason that events are working so well for publishers: Nothing can replace face-to-face.
Oswald also stressed the importance of open communication with staff. "The only thing we won't talk about is salaries, but you can ask about anything else," he said. "It's honest, open and two-way. We try hard to foster that in the organization. If you hire the right people, they can change and adapt. The ones who don't want to change are the challenging ones."
Here are 10 takeaways from the last day of SIPA 2016. The first three come from morning keynote Steven Van Yoder, head of Get the Word Out Communications and author of Get Slightly Famous:
1. Be the signal above the noise—the source of information that rises above the others. "People want true experts who are trusted sources of content." Van Yoder said that can and should be a SIPA publisher. Make sure [your editorial] becomes a portal for truth.
2. Share bits of key research or reporting you've done with the world. This will help you become the source for media when an issue comes up. Van Yoder cited two SIPA publishers who have used their authority to become regular contributors in the media. The publicity has given their publications, training and research more value.
3. Start a movement. "I venture that all industries/sectors have some burning deep issue that can or should be addressed. Publicize that and use your platform to put it on the map. Put together panel discussions with four or five other key players in that space.
The next three on events come from a force of nature known as Dan Hanover, a VP at Access Intelligence.
4. "If you don't say it's a big deal, then it's not a big deal." Your event should be The Must Attend. "If you miss it, you will not be able to do your job," Hanover said. He wants publishers to do more video. "Attendees will watch a video before they read anything. They register [for conferences] with their eyes. So use short, impactful content. "Ready. Set. Register."
5. Don't live with the marketing campaign of somebody else. Hanover doesn't like conference brochures at all, and he's not big on discounts. "Stop leading with the discount—$200 off is not the road to go. Use shorter discounts over a smaller amount of time. Hanover also wants you to flip the motivation. Instead of "Last chance to save $200," he strongly prefers "Prices will go up $200 tomorrow." "The fear of paying works better than the benefit of saving.
6. If it works don't do it again. "Reset and refresh your campaigns every year," Hanover said. "We try to one up ourselves every year—there's always a better way of doing something. Resetting events gets attendees to come back. Changing out content is not enough to be considered an event refresh."
7. Make your marketing personalized. "No two attendees are equal," Hanover said. "Different people are coming for different things." They map out six types of people who come to our events so they can segment different messages. The personalization drives the open rate way up.
Josh Andersen, production manager for Fred Meyer, gave a hands-on and insightful presentation on video in a post-conference session in the afternoon
8. Know the message you want to convey. "Pre-production is very important," Andersen said, "especially with your pre-interview talent. Let them know what to expect. Also don't let your message get lost in the technology.
9. Use lapel mics and lights. Andersen showed us the difference when he did not use the lapel mics and lights, and it was quite startling. The mic cancelled out the background noise we were hearing. The lights made people look much more attractive
10. Get everyone in the same room. "We meet together weekly," said Donna Jefferson, CEO of Jefferson Communications. "Our art director, sales, web person, content—it's good to include everyone. We might get answers that we don't expect. Turns out our art director has creative business ideas. There are no wrong answers at this meeting."