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Better Together: Do Print and Digital Create Stronger Conference Communications?

When did it become one or the other - print or digital - when talking about conference communications? Join contributor Jenn Waters as she explores how digital and print can work together to create exceptional attendee and sponsorship experiences.

Today's contributor is Jenn Waters, Assistant Publisher and Digital Media Manager, CustomNEWS, Inc.

When did it become one or the other - print or digital - when talking about conference communications? Yes, the rise of mobile apps has left many wondering if a comprehensive program book is still needed when the same information can be found elsewhere (i.e. mobile app, planner, website, emails.) But what about those that are slow to adopt the app, or want the quick hits as they ride the shuttle bus? Nothing showcases conference content quite like a show daily.

Rather than putting them against each other and picking just one, look at how a mobile app and show daily together can pack a powerful punch when it comes to providing all of your attendees with the information they need, when they need it. As publishers of show dailies and other conference-related materials, CustomNEWS' primary focus has historically been print products. But we recognized a few years ago that the landscape is changing, our services have evolved with it.

5 Ways Show Dailies and Mobile Apps Work Better Together

1. Apps and show dailies promote each other

APIC 2016 Conference's Daily News promoted the event mobile app and answered questions attendees commonly ask. This resulted in more downloads, more adoption, and more engagement.

One of the first things we ask when speaking to a potential new client - do you have a mobile app? If they say yes, we suggest they look into ways to incorporate the show daily into their app. CadmiumCD has created a news section in their app to showcase photos and show daily links each day. And don't forget to use the first issue of your show daily to remind attendees to download the app. Adding new features to the app this year? Include a Q&A feature in the show daily too!

2. Social media is free marketing for your organization

Audiology uses Twitter at their annual conference to tweet the highlights of their show daily and to make attendees aware of their mobile event app.

When an attendee posts a tweet about your conference or shares a photo, you're getting free publicity. Many mobile app providers have a social media feature to make it easier for attendees to tweet and post, follow the hashtag and send photos. Be sure to include an article in your show daily telling readers how they can connect with your organization's social media channels and remind them about the conference hashtag by incorporating it into page headers. And have a little fun - publish some tweets in each issue - attendees love seeing themselves in print!

Show dailies also support your conference's social media strategy: share links to your digital versions via social media, create daily photo albums using the show daily photographer's images and ask show daily reporters to write a few tweets from the sessions they are covering for tweeting-in-real-time.

3. Where to share what information?

Publish a show daily that is part conference news/part program book by creating a pull-out section that has the abbreviated daily schedule, a current exhibitor list, shuttle bus schedules, local area information, and, most importantly, a reminder to check the app for session listings, exhibitor descriptions, etc.

Daily schedules, session descriptions, helpful reminders, exhibitor directory, company descriptions, facility maps, local area information - you want to provide your attendees with everything they may need to get the most out of your conference. But where's the best place for each item? And how can you make sharing this information a little-more cost effective? We're hearing more and more about moving away from the pre-printed conference program because most of that same information will be in the mobile app and/or online planner.

Our suggestion: publish a show daily that is part conference news/part program book by creating a pull-out section that has the abbreviated daily schedule, a current exhibitor list, shuttle bus schedules, local area information, and, most importantly, a reminder to check the app for session listings, exhibitor descriptions, etc. And if attendees still want a fold-out exhibit hall map and attach it to page one of your show daily - advertisers would love it!

4. Sponsorships

Attendees reading the NCTM Conference show daily. Sell ad packages that include both the mobile event app and show daily for the most comprehensive experience for exhibitors and attendees.

Print advertising is still a big draw for exhibitors, but are they missing out on connecting with mobile app users? When possible, look at creating packages that combine print and digital offerings. For example, thank your mobile app sponsor(s) in a front page strip ad in your show daily.

Show dailies also become another way to highlight your supporters by including a "Thank You Sponsors" ad in each issue.

5. 365-experience

Content from your conference is often relevant long after your event. Let attendees access your show daily content in the app after the conference so they can get more insights or relive moments.

Show daily content has a much longer shelf-life than you may think. Posting the show daily links to your mobile app will increase readership. And don't forget about repurposing the content in association publications, blogs and other social media channels and marketing materials. Use the show daily to show those not attending what they missed. We suggest creating an archive on your website that features digital links to your show daily, as well as stories and photos from each issue.

Don't be afraid to try something new!

Finding the right balance of print and digital vehicles may be challenging. But look at it from both the attendee's perspective as well as that of the sponsor/exhibitor. Don't be afraid to try something new - you never know what may happen!

About Jenn Waters

Jenn Waters is the Assistant Publisher and Digital Media Manager at CustomNEWS, Inc. This article is based on a previous article originally written for Trade Shows News Network (TSNN).

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