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Findings from a First-Timer - 7/24/2012 -

Passion for the written word and exploring the "human side” of associations were key takeaways for one attending the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting for the first time.


By Kim Schneider

When both the AP Stylebook and double O binding were referenced in a lunchtime conversation, I knew I was in publisher’s heaven. This type of talk was common during Association Media & Publishing 2012 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Md.

As a first-timer to the Annual Meeting, I was hoping to pick up some tips to bring back to my association in Chicago. Working with a small staff, it can be a huge help to go outside for new ideas. I wouldn’t have had the funding to attend the conference if it hadn’t been for a generous Rising Star in Publishing scholarship I was awarded from the Angerosa Research Foundation. I wanted to make my scholarship money count, and I think I made the right choice in Association Media & Publishing’s Annual Meeting.

In a session titled "Back to the Word,” vice president of editorial services at the YGS Group Kelly Winkler told attendees that web copy needs to be sexy. In fact, that’s the same editorial passion that permeated throughout the Annual Meeting. Winkler and co-presenter Patricia Harman, editor in chief at Cleaning & Restoration Magazine, broke down the differences of writing for print and writing for the web.

When it comes to web copy, Winkler pointed out that it’s non-linear, reader-driven, and there is always a "ruthless pursuit of actionable content.” Making your content actionable is what increases clicks and reflects well on your site’s analytics as well as its bottom line. But Winkler and Harman brought everything "back to the word” in their presentation by presenting SEO, readability, and mobility as important players—but not the essence of good copy. The best copy keeps functionality in mind without sacrificing passion.

The same tenants of good web copy can be said for the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting as a whole. Passion and practical takeaways went hand-in-hand, making for an educational and inspirational experience. Debbie Millman of Sterling Brands opened the conference with a keynote on branding. She went back to the beginning of human communication and brought her research all the way to present day. It was a fascinating look on how brands build connections for people and create recognition and shared culture. Branding and consumerism certainly change over time, but the human need to belong and connect with the identity of a product remains.

So many of the sessions at this year’s conference touched on the human side of publishing. The best stories are about people, and that should drive what’s published in print, on your website—even your visual design and videos should reflect the human side of your association.

The conference wrapped up with Bob Safian, editor and managing director of Fast Company. He told the audience about people he admires. Each of these individuals had one thing in common: They are always adapting to the change around them. Safian calls this "innovation in the face of chaos.” With the rate of technological advancements and the speed at which communication continues to evolve, Safian’s words are timely and essential to our industry.

After my first time at the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting, I think I’m prepared to adapt and innovate in the face of chaos. The education sessions gave me the tools to do so, but the people I met and the stories I heard inspired me to want more.

Kim Schneider is communications editor at the American Student Dental Association. Association Media & Publishing thanks her for sharing her insights as a first-time attendee to the Annual Meeting.


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