Turn conference into a money maker

By Pat Wray

July 16, 2019

Are you getting everything you can from your OWAA membership? If your answer isn’t an unequivocal YES then let’s talk about how to make it so. Let’s start with our annual conference.

Attend each and every conference, starting with 2020 at Jay Peak, Vermont. It’s the biggest and best feature of your OWAA membership and it will pay for itself many times over but only if you work at it.

So…how do you make the conference pay?

  • Make your decision to attend early. Buy your plane ticket well in advance to take advantage of lower prices and make your hotel reservation yesterday. You want a room in the conference hotel and latecomers sometimes end up in outlying hotels.
  • Develop a production plan, preferably for a year following the conference, but at least for several months. Incorporate pre and post-trips you would like to take associated with the conference. Work out a schedule of stories/photos/broadcasts/podcasts you can produce from each of the trips. If you can’t expect to pay for costs of the trip (including tips) with the resulting production, don’t take the trip.
  • Study the conference agenda carefully, newsmaker as well as craft improvement speakers. There are stories and articles everywhere.
  • Find out about the editors and publishers who will be attending and study them and their publications/companies. Prioritize the ones you most want to talk with and make it your business to do so. Work at it. Prepare your pitch and use meals, hospitality suites and breaks between sessions to introduce yourself and your ideas.
  • Contact the OWAA office two weeks before the conference and ask for a list of registrants. Read up on each of them in the OU Directory. Many OWAA members are nationally and internationally known in their fields. They are stories in their own rights, and all are a wealth of information as well as priceless pieces of your growing network that will be the foundation of your career in years to come.
  • Attend every session you can. Conference organizers invite experts in timely issues of the day. Features and columns about those issues will sell in outlets everywhere. Craft improvement seminars are equally important; they will help you stay up with the everchanging technology and needs of the communication business.

Have fun! Granted, the conference is full of business opportunities, but it’s also a great time to enjoy yourself and make lifelong friends. There’s a reason so many OWAA long-time OWAA members continue to attend every conference, even after they’ve retired. It’s for the chance to see many of their very best friends and to take part once again in an organization that has become a linchpin of their lives.

Next week we’ll talk about further steps you can take to make the Outdoor Writers Association of America a money-making proposition for you.

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