Case Studies: Real events in practice
David Moule, IET Power Generation, Conversion and Utilisation Network
“In November 2011 the Power Generation, Conversion and Utilisation Network held a seminar on "Making Rare Earth Magnets Rarer" which was supported by the UK Magnetics Society. The event was outside of the Network’s usual format, with seven speakers and a cost associated with attending, therefore some additional support was required to ensure the event was a success.
Our Network had worked with the UK Magnetics Society in the past and so an initial approach was made to firstly check if they were planning to run a seminar in the near future on the same topic (to make sure any planned activities would complement rather than clash), and furthermore whether they would like to get involved in organising and supporting an IET event on the topic. We were delighted when the UK Magnetics Society agreed to get involved and shortly after a teleconference was held with the mini organising committee (made up of IET and UK Mag Soc staff and volunteers) to discuss the first steps of organising the event, including the date, potential speakers, venue and who does what from each organisation.
The IET benefited hugely from working collaboratively with the UK Mag Soc. As well as jointly developing the programme and organising the venue, the IET were able to take on board the experience of the UK Mag Soc regarding charging for events and decided to adopt a similar pricing structure due to the similar audience being attracted. As a supporting organisation UK Mag Soc members were entitled to the same discount as IET members and to encourage student and University participation a 50% discount was offered to students.
In terms of marketing, the event benefited from promotion from the UK Magnetic Society. The event was included on their website and also featured in their newsletter "Magnews" and literature was available for delegates to take away with them on the day.
The event was a success, with 67 delegates and IET.tv joining us for the day. We look forward to working with the UK Magnetics Society again in the future.”
One story of a successful publicity campaign comes from the Gibraltar Group of Professional Engineers (GGPE), which is made up of IET, IMechE and ICE members and led by Chairman Xavier Pons.
Xavier helped arrange a large scale ‘national’ symposium focusing on Gibraltar’s future energy crisis, with top level speakers such as IET President Dr Nigel Burton and attendees from government. He was daunted by the concept of attracting a large crowd to a technical event, however the GGPE rose to the challenge in a big way with some impressive publicity.
The group organised a campaign of posters and flyers and Xavier used his contacts.
“I happen to know the director of a bus company” he says, “so I managed to put a poster in every single one of his buses!” Paying for such a campaign would have been expensive so Xavier saved cash there, but he also kept costs low by printing posters locally and also using a local graphic designer.
Use the press to your advantage
For larger, more prestigious events, why not publicise in papers or on radio stations. All external media coverage, be that national or local press, radio or TV will make a big difference to the event’s attendance figures.
Again Xavier’s work stands out, as he gave his symposium an amazing plug by arranging and participating in a live national television debate on the subject of renewables the week before the event. A GGPE member also wrote in to the national paper and had his letter printed.
“This was published two days before the symposium, which raised public awareness. I think the result was we got a very good turnout” Xavier notes.