How to draw a crowd to your chapter’s Wylie Writing Workshop
When IABC Detroit booked Ann for a daylong workshop this spring, she was thrilled. This would be her first trip to Motown, and chapter leaders thought they could generate a big turnout.
By late fall, Ann was waiting for the cancelation call.
It’s old news that Detroit had the highest unemployment rate in the nation. To say that IABC Detroit was facing financial challenges as sponsorship, membership and professional development dollars dried up … well, that would be an understatement.
“One idea that the leadership kept coming back to was to bring in a nationally known communications expert to attract young professionals as well as the more seasoned communicator. Everyone had heard great things about Wylie’s workshops.”
— Debra Salem, IABC/Detroit chapter leader
Read more rave reviews.
Still, chapter leaders decided to move ahead with the workshop. And was Ann glad they did! Some 95 people registered for the seminar — way above the chapter’s break-even goal of 70. About 30% of attendees were not IABC members, so the program introduced them to the benefits of membership.
Steal IABC Detroit’s success secrets.
How did IABC Detroit bring in a record audience in the midst of a bad economy and massive layoffs? Chapter leader Debra Salem shares these secrets:
- Start early. The chapter started promoting the event six months in advance. That helped draw professionals with money left in the budget at the end of the year.
- Reach out. IABC Detroit marketed the event to half a dozen other local communication associations, the IABC Heritage region and IABC and PRSA chapters within a three-hour commute. Most of those organizations also promoted the event to their members.
- Get around. Chapter leaders promoted the workshop on the chapter website, on local and regional calendar listings and via press releases distributed to newspapers throughout the state and through PR Newswire.
- Market often. The chapter sent email notes to their own members about every two weeks.
- Offer a discount. IABC Detroit offered an early bird rate as well as a member discount.
- Get help. While sponsorship dollars were hard to come by, member companies did provide design and printing services.
The chapter achieved its objectives of diversifying revenue sources, reaching non-IABC members, providing valuable professional development that appealed to young professionals and seasoned communicators alike.
Nearly one-third of attendees were not IABC members, so the program introduced them to the benefits of membership.
Plus, IABC Detroit serves as a great reminder to other chapters: If you hold a special workshop or seminar, they will come — despite seemingly overwhelming economic obstacles.
They will come, that is, as long as you bust your elbows marketing the event.
Learn how your association can bring Ann in for a conference keynote or breakout session or chapter writing workshop that draws crowds and rave reviews.