Associations are recognizing the important role that educational content can play to attract new audiences and create additional value for members, even long after the conference has ended. As a result, some have started to re-package and re-purpose session content into new learning opportunities as part of a year-round strategy. This approach is not limited just to the conference educational content, however. There is a significant amount of untapped potential within your conference awards program, too.
Awards Programs Create Engagement, But on a Limited Scale
Scholarship, grant, and awards programs are an extremely effective way to emphasize, reinforce, and advance the mission of an association. They are also viewed as a tactic to help energize and engage your members. While this second point can be true to some extent, it’s important to recognize that most award programs, as currently designed and delivered, only activate a small percentage of the overall membership. When you really break it down, what percentage of your total membership applies for one of your awards in any given year? Do you enlist members to serve as judges, and if so, how many? Do you enlist volunteers to serve on the program committee, and if so, how many? Add all of these up and compare the number of annual participants to your total membership.
If, like many associations, the difference in participants vs. membership is larger than you would like, there is a huge opportunity to re-package and re-purpose your awards program into valuable content for all members.
The Annual Conference Has a Limited Shelf Life
Associations often tend to use the annual conference—which brings together hundreds or even thousands of industry professionals from around the world—as an opportunity to publicly celebrate its scholarship, grant, and award recipients in front of a room of their peers. And, if infused with creativity, your awards ceremony can be an engaging and fun addition to the conference program.
The challenge, however, is that the recognition and visibility are often contained within a very specific and finite window. Associations do a great job of using multiple channels—from the website to email and social media—to promote the programs, encourage applications and provide recognition leading up to the conference. But what happens after the conference ends?
By creating additional opportunities to engage with and learn from award recipients, you can increase the value and profile of your programs, your conference, and your organization.
Three Ways to Re-Package Awards Program Content
The task of creating additional content may seem daunting—particularly if you already have a full plate managing program applications, reviews and award distribution. Here are a few simple ways to give your awards program a second life after the conference.
1. Article series
Create and post a follow-up blog article or article series that profiles your award recipients and the positive impact they are having on your industry. Or, take it a step further and have each recipient record a short video using their smartphone or webcam discussing their experiences and providing a “slice of life.” The video can be paired with the article and distributed through other channels such as YouTube.
2. Peer-to-peer discussion group
Give members an opportunity to connect with and learn from each other, while continuing to provide visibility to your award recipients. Host a series of small virtual discussion groups with association members and an award recipient, using traditional webinar platforms or through non-traditional tools like WhatsApp, Facetime, and Skype. Want to take it a step further? Turn this discussion into a special podcast series for members.
3. Invite them to speak at your next conference or event
The peer-to-peer virtual discussion group is a great follow-up shortly after your conference, for those who were in attendance. Take this same concept and apply it to a wider audience by asking one or several award recipients to speak at your next conference or event. This will provide an opportunity for even more members and attendees to connect with and learn from their peers while providing additional visibility for and interest in your awards program.
Re-packaging and re-purposing the educational content featured within your conference sessions is an extremely effective way to create additional member engagement and value. The content and learnings that can be shared by your award recipients are just as valuable. It’s important to consider how you can extend these learning opportunities beyond the awards ceremony, and turn them into year-long value add content for your members.