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Convention Attendance Jumps

By Ariele Pratt
NABJ Monitor

NABJ officials expect 2,500 attendees at this year’s convention in Philadelphia, which is close to 1,000 more than last year’s convention in San Diego, said April O. Turner, NABJ’s Associate Representative. Pre-registration numbers are up by 60 percent along with a 43 percent increase in sponsorship, said Executive Director Maurice Foster.

Both Foster and Turner attribute this year’s rise in the numbers to location. The last time the convention was held in Philadelphia was in 1995. That was also the last time the convention was held in a Northeastern city.

“We’re a very East Coast-based organization,” said Turner. “We always have a lower turnout on the West Coast.”

The number of vendors and exhibitors also rose from 94 last year to 125 this year, said Foster. He credited the improving economy and NABJ’s reputation with the higher turnout.

“NABJ is known as a place to represent minority journalists across the nation,” said Foster.

NABJ’s press and marketing teams increased their digital presence through an extensive social media campaign that included Facebook and Twitter.  This campaign allowed members to get a steady stream of the most up-to-date information about the conference through multiple platforms that extended to social media, mailers and email.

“There is no silver bullet,” said Foster about the organization’s marketing efforts. “It’s a persistent effort to deliver the message to members where they need to get it.”

This year’s marketing efforts and convention programming reflect the dominance of technological advancements and the digital sphere.

“Programming is continuing to evolve,” said Dr. Sybil Bennett, programming chair for NABJ 2011. “Understanding digital, innovation and entrepreneurship is critical in the 21st century. “

In addition to panels and learning labs, this year’s convention will feature high-profile speakers including Arianna Huffington, Attorney General Eric Holder, Eric Benet, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Terrence Howard.

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