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 Post subject: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:57 am 
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Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1378
So the annual meeting notice from the XYZ Railroad Historical and Preservation Society arrives, and it says:

Our Meeting Committee has put together a great Annual Meeting this year, lots of clinics and presentations that should be of interest to you. Here is the tentative schedule of events, subject to change.

8:00: Seminar – To be announced
9:00: Seminar – To be announced
10:00: Seminar – Presenter: John Doe - Topic: To be determined
11:00: Clinic – Show your badge for admission
12:00: Lunch – On Your Own
1:00: Clinic – Show your badge for admission
2:00: Seminar – To be announced
3:00: Seminar – To be announced

The Annual Meeting is four states away, 600 or so miles each way, so with those great descriptions, of all these exciting events, are you ready to book a motel room and plan to attend?

Seriously folks, in the last month I saw several event notices and schedules from relatively large organizations that were written very similar to this. They were lazy notices that tell you nothing. One organization left the seminars all “To be announced” right up to the day that the meeting ended. What a waste of their presenters time and effort - whatever it was that they actually showed, it never had any chance to influence anyone to attend, because the organization didn’t tell anybody about it.

By three or four weeks before an event it should at least be possible to post what the presenters and topics are going to be. And listing an event where the presenter is identified but the topic is “To be determined” is just plain silly. It hints of nepotism, giving the impression that the presenter has been listed because he is an insider, and what he presents does not matter.

When organizations promote events with descriptions like this, they are wasting their members time and effort. It is hard to believe that 501c3 organizations that are supposed to have an “educational mission” and provide a “public benefit” would send out such useless announcements, but they do. Who is going to drive a long distance to see “Seminar - To be announced”, “Topic to be determined”, and “Clinic – Show your badge for admission”. And it gives the impression that the organization is a private club, really not interested in telling the public what they are doing or inviting them to their events.

You have to wonder what the point is of having a meeting if you conceal the events from your members and the public. Why have the meeting at all?

PC

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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:19 am 

Joined: Mon May 09, 2005 8:16 pm
Posts: 69
Sadly, this isn't limited to our community. There is a professional three day conference in early August with the same schedule as the one you just posted. How do you justify going to that to your supervisor?
While it takes a lot of time and planning (and getting advanced commitments), people are much more likely to show up if there is a list of topics, presenters, or both. I know I have gone to things because so and so is presenting or because I want to learn everything I can about a particular railroad. If the purpose of the event is to raise funds or bring people to your site, the details need to be out months in advance.

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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 10:39 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:17 am
Posts: 155
Location: New York
PCook wrote:
You have to wonder what the point is of having a meeting if you conceal the events from your members and the public. Why have the meeting at all?


Barring the unexpected last-minute cancellation or substitution of a presenter, there's little reason to have a slate of "TBAs" on the schedule.

Some people are better at organizing events than others. There's a lot of work that goes into planning a meeting, scheduling presenters, and promoting the event so that your attendees have enough time to make travel plans and attend. I've been on both sides of the registration table, and it's not an easy task.

-otto-

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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:16 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2076
I will announce my reply to this topic soon...


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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1483
Location: Southern California
One of the professional organizations that I have been a member of would always lists its program schedules/topics as "tentative." And then add the line that went something like: "All events are tentative and subject to change until they occur."

That way they are covered if a morning speaker is delayed in traffic, etc. and they swap his time with an afternoon speaker who is ready to go. Or worse yet, an afternoon speaker gets sick at lunch time.

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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:20 am 
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Posts: 1378
Received another meeting notice recently with about half of the presenter schedule "to be announced" and one of the presenters identified but no description of the program. It is sad to see preservation and historical organizations, that are having difficulty attracting new members, waste their time and effort by sending out meeting notices with large portions of the schedule left unfilled. And if any of the notices make it to the general public you can pretty much be assured they will be of little interest with the schedule of activities left empty.

PC

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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 9:53 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8353
Location: Baltimore, MD
One thing I've observed:

The few time I have ever run into this syndrome, it's been for "technical & Historical" railroad societies where the show/convention/Annual Meeting/whatever is effectively an in-house event, part reunion and part model railroading expo, and if you're lucky there's a visit to an outside place like a train ride, station museum, or what have you.

These specific events tend NOT to be promoted (at least very well) to the general public, are made up of hard-core fans/modelers, and would likely sell the same exact number of tickets/etc. whether or not they announce in advance who the speakers are. It's preaching to the converted. I don't imagine anyone's going to cross the country or cancel other plans just to go and hear, say, Doyle McCormack talk to a SP Historical Society convention about 4449, or go to a PRRT&HS convention just to hear someone discuss GG1 preservation or Bennett Levin talk about his PRR E8s, or an N&WHS show just to hear O. Winston Link's assistant speak. (And those will be heavily promoted if they DO get scheduled.)

Now, whether this is an effective approach for these conventions/societies for their long-term future is a whole 'nother discussion. I don't see this syndrome anywhere else that I pay attention to--sci-fi cons, anime cons, music festivals, beer festivals, wine festivals, etc.--and they seem to keep expanding as they hype their events with who's showing up (but not the specific beers/wines/tunes, I'll note).


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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2017 6:25 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
I don't see this syndrome anywhere else that I pay attention to--sci-fi cons, anime cons, music festivals, beer festivals, wine festivals, etc.--and they seem to keep expanding as they hype their events with who's showing up (but not the specific beers/wines/tunes, I'll note).

In the case of sci-fi events, they'll announce guests, then at the last minute, announce how many (not if) cancelled. This is always after people bought tickets and booked rooms.
There's a "Space 1999" series con going on this weekend where the website lists all the people they wanted to get but couldn't. I have no clue who gets anything out of that.

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 Post subject: Re: Topic To Be Announced............
PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:07 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
Posts: 2431
p51 wrote:
There's a "Space 1999" series con going on this weekend where the website lists all the people they wanted to get but couldn't. I have no clue who gets anything out of that.


I suspect the organizers do that to reduce the number of e-mails saying "How lame! Why didn't you have <famous star who never does cons> come and speak?"


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