Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Writer offers tips to ensure that rural attendees are properly regarded at statewide conferences

Organizers hosting statewide events need to remember that a significant population of attendees are usually from rural areas, and conferences should include topics that relate to them, writes Becky McCray, owner of a small-town retail store and a cattle ranch in Oklahoma, in an article in the Pagosa Daily Post in Pagosa Springs, Colo.

McCray suggests conferences should include rural roundtables and cohort groups, rural speakers on existing panels and topics, breakouts or workshops on specifically rural topics, an increase in the number of rural sessions offered and a rural-themed keynote.

"Promote the rural topics straight to rural people," McCray writes. "Call back those same people you asked for input. Show them how you’ve taken their advice. Encourage them to attend themselves and to spread the word. Send emails promoting just the rural focus and rural topics. Target these to your rural and small town members. Now stick it out. You’re doing a long-term project of addressing rural needs. It will take time to rebuild your rural members’ confidence and gain their attendance. Keep at it, and don’t give up."

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