Detroit earns record returns

How to draw a crowd for your chapter workshop

how to draw a crowd for your chapter workshop

“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

When IABC Detroit booked Ann in August 2008 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 has 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.

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 percent of attendees were not IABC members, so the program introduced them to the benefits of membership.

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.

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, a long as you bust your elbows marketing the event.

Ready to book Ann for your chapter workshop? Contact Ann today.

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