Jackie Dooley 2014-02-11 11:11:30
Three major SAA initiatives are swiftly moving toward conclusion this spring and summer: the Annual Meeting Task Force (AMTF), the Communications Task Force (CTF), and the strategic planning initiative that the Council has underway. As I write this, we are a week away from the May Council meeting in Chicago, where we’ll be discussing all three. The two task forces have worked diligently throughout the year on their charges: The AMTF is looking deeply at all manner of details relating to SAA’s Annual Meeting, and the CTF will recommend new emphases in our approach to communications with SAA members and beyond. Both task forces have engaged in extensive study of not only SAA’s past and ongoing approaches, but also the practices of other professional societies. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the groups’ recommendations could be considered “no brainers” in the sense that they echo ideas we’ve heard loud and clear from individual members, including via the 2012 member survey. Here are some of the issues we’ll be looking at as we review the AMTF’s final report and the CTF’s preliminary recommendations: • Wi-Fi at the Annual Meeting: Duh. We all want this. The staff has been doing everything possible in recent years to secure it at no cost to attendees and will redouble their efforts going forward, though we’ll remain at the mercy of host hotels and/or convention centers. Typically, this service is expensive, but negotiating for it will be a top priority. • “Second-tier” cities for the Annual Meeting: Cities of a certain size are necessary to avoid sky-high airfares and secure meeting space for 1,500-plus attendees, but we can try to minimize the largest expense: hotel costs. Staff has been working for months to determine the best possible deal that SAA can get for 2015 and forward in second-tier cities where costs may be somewhat lower. • Length of the Annual Meeting: The longer the meeting, the higher the cost of lodging. Shortening the conference means dropping some content. Should we make section and roundtable meetings ninety minutes instead of two hours? Schedule their meetings against education sessions? Cut down the number of sessions? Schedule more hours each day? All hard decisions. We’ll be looking for your reactions at the AMTF open forum in New Orleans in August. • Website improvements: When Matt Black started work as SAA’s Web and Information Systems Administrator in February, he dove right into a close analysis of the website’s look and feel, structure, and functionality. You’ll see incremental improvements. • Social media: Six of the CTF’s nine preliminary recommendations focus on SAA’s use of social media, including blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels. How does SAA combine its use of them in an effective way? We’ll need the input of those of you who are savvy with these media, as are the members of the CTF. All this feeds into our work on a new strategic plan. Making all SAA services as affordable as possible—without bankrupting the Society—is a basic tenet of our approach, as is maximizing our effective use of technology. Many issues will be addressed beyond those studied by the two task forces (diversity, education, advocacy . . . ), but having the recommendations of these two groups in hand as we work toward adoption of a new plan is an enormous help. The Annual Meeting and the Strategic Plan will be addressed in separate forums in New Orleans. Please be there and let us know what you think.
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