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News & Press: President's Corner

The Status of the NABJ-NAHJ Convention

Wednesday, April 15, 2020   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Kanya Stewart
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April 15, 2020
Dear NABJ Members,
We hope that you, your family and colleagues stay safe as we all navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.
We know you have questions so below are some answers concerning the joint NABJ-NAHJ Convention scheduled for July 8-12, 2020 in Washington, D.C.
Are NABJ and NAHJ still planning for a convention?
YES, but what form it takes is yet to be determined. The health and well-being of our members and partners is of utmost importance to NABJ and NAHJ.That is why we are revealing alternatives below that are under consideration.
Have we tried rescheduling the dates for the convention?
OF COURSE. Here’s the problem: We’re a big convention and there are no dates available at the designated host hotel. Discussions continue with the Marriott Wardman regarding contractual issues that need to be resolved.We cannot go into specifics because of sensitive issues that could have serious negative ramifications for both organizations if prematurely disclosed during negotiations.
What if members are uncomfortable attending the convention even if the local, state and federal government says it is OK in July?
We get it. We encourage members to simply do what they believe is in their best interest.
Are NABJ and NAHJ considering alternatives if an in-person convention cannot happen?
Since early March, we have been quietly exploring three paths.An “in-person” convention as scheduled, a “virtual convention,” and a “hybrid in-person/virtual convention” are all being planned.We will proceed down one of the three paths above, hoping the in-person gathering works out.Which path we choose will be dictated by COVID-19 conditions in mid-May. There are many factors to consider including local, state and federal government restrictions, the local COVID-19 environment and at the top of the list is prospective attendee comfort with health concerns.
How would the three options work?
In a virtual convention environment, workshops/panels/training sessions will be similar to webinar or Zoom interactive environments.However, unless security concerns are addressed with the Zoom platform, we will not be using it. We will likely use a product that we are currently exploring that offers us tremendous flexibility for the plethora of creative ideas we have for a positive and memorable experience.Our final choice will not require you to purchase anything but rather just be a registrant, go to a website and click on a link.Each registrant would have a unique code allowing access from one portal and one unique IP address.
Here’s how it would “likely” work pending final discussions with our online vendor:
  1. The virtual exhibit hall hours would be 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET so that other time zones are accommodated.
  2. Each convention registrant would choose the companies with which they want to have a live video discussion in private one-on-one sessions.
  3. Live video chats include reviewing/critiquing portfolios of video, print and online content while talking about current or future opportunities or just feedback in- general.
  4. Registrants would be required to make appointments in 15-minute increments.Registrants would also be required to upload their resumes, samples, reels ahead of time so that exhibitors could easily access their materials prior to or during the video chat.
  5. Panels, workshops, training sessions, etc., will also have their own designated video “rooms/portals” and will be scheduled throughout the convention dates as normal.
There are several virtual enhancements under consideration, i.e. 3-D environments to further improve attendee experience on multiple platforms.Keep in mind we are still working on details for the full virtual option. As we decide on more details, we will let you know.
Member Benefits for a Virtual Convention:
  • Significant savings on airfare, hotel rooms, parking/ground transportation and possibly food
  • Opportunity for advance scheduling with all companies/organizations in the exhibit hall
  • Allows members that register to participate in the convention if they still have reservations about participating in in-person group settings, even when government and health industry guidelines are strictly followed
In a “hybrid in-person/virtual conference” scenario, some sessions would be “in-person” if the created environment in D.C. allows for responsible social distancing and observance of required or recommended government and health industry guidelines. Additionally, some sessions would be “virtual” for engagement/viewing from the comfort of an attendee’s home.
Again, to participate, attendees would have to be convention registrants.
We are hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. An “in-person conference” is our preference but we will continue to travel down the three parallel paths.Per contracts,WE ARE NOT LIKELY TO PROACTIVELY CANCEL OUR CONVENTION.Again, we hope to have more definitive plans by mid-May.
Meal Events
We are also well down the road on some exciting virtual interactive models for some of our meal events as well!Yes, of course, attendees will get REAL FOOD for these virtual events.Stay tuned for more information on how this aspect of the convention would work.
Networking Events
We are even working on exciting contingencies for our social networking events.One example is the premiere social networking event at NABJ conventions, the Sports Task Force Jam.You won’t be disappointed. STAY TUNED!!!!!!!
There will be a lot more details on the horizon.Hang in there and be safe!
Dorothy Tucker
NABJ President


Barbara L. Morse says...
Posted Friday, April 17, 2020
I would prefer an in-person convention or none at all. For me, this is a time to catch up with people, meet and mentor new people and to exchange ideas.

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