Review-Module Improvements

We’ve just released a software update that includes some really exciting improvements to the Review Module (which comes standard with every call). Here are just some of the new features:

  • You can now add reviewers and review chairs to a review group even if they don’t have a ProposalSpace account.
  • The search function for reviewers and review chairs is built into the review-group page, making it more efficient.
  • To improve privacy, reviewers and review chairs need to confirm their addition to a review group before they are actually added to it.
  • The layout of the review-group admin page has been updated, making it easier to manage for both call admins and review chairs.

As always, let us know how the new features are working out, and if you have any ideas for additional improvements!

Improved Process for Adding Call Admins

Call Admins ScreenshotWe’ve made a few changes to the site that hopefully make it easier than ever to add admins to a call!

Previously, adding someone as a call admin was a multi-step process. Now, the Call Admins page has an integrated search feature (identical to the one we recently introduced for Organization admins) that allows you to search for a user’s account without leaving the page.

If the user has an account, just click the matching search result to add that user to the list of admins.

More importantly, if the system can’t find an account for the user, you no longer have to ask them to create one first; You can now create one for them! Just click the link in the search results and enter the new user’s name and email address.

We’re really excited about this improvement and are working to include it on the Reviewers page soon, so stay tuned!

Open-Ended Calls

We’re happy to announce that ProposalSpace now fully supports open-ended calls!

Previously, every call had to have a submission deadline, which was OK for most calls. However, for open-ended calls, that date had to be set way in the future or updated periodically to keep it in the future. So to make things easier, we’ve made the Submission End setting optional, which means any call can now be open-ended just by leaving that setting blank!

To get this to work, we had to make a few other notable changes:

  • All Dates settings, other than Submission Start, have been made optional. We encourage everyone to provide dates for informational purposes, but now you can activate a call with just a Submission Start.
  • Previously, calls had to be archived manually and could not be unarchived. Calls may continue to be archived manually, but if not done within a year of activation, the system will do it automatically. After a call is archived, admins still have full access to its settings and data, but may not change any settings other than those for the Advanced Scheduling Module and Publishing Module, if activated. If you have a call that needs to be active for more than a year, it can be reactivated for as long as you like with additional one-year extensions.
  • The Late Submissions setting has been moved from the General Submission settings page to the Dates settings page. (This wasn’t really necessary; We just thought it made more sense there.)

We really hope these changes make it easier for admins to manage open-ended calls using ProposalSpace. As always, feedback is welcomed.

More exciting changes are in the pipeline, so stay tuned!

New Feature: Strict/Loose Text Limits

text limit screenshotFor a while now, the ProposalSpace form builder has allowed call admins to place limits on text fields. For example, you could set a 200-word limit for a bio field or a 75-character limit for a title field. Any limit, however, was purely informational, which meant an author could exceed it and still submit the proposal. (The system would highlight the answer for call admins and reviewers, though, so they could easily tell if the author went over the limit.)

Now, if you set a limit on a text field, you can tell the system what to do if the answer exceeds the limit:

  • Allow the proposal to be submitted and highlight the answer for call admins and reviewers.
  • Consider the proposal incomplete and do not allow it to be submitted.

Thanks to the call admins who suggested this improvement… Keep the great ideas coming!

New Feature: Public Description

ScreenshotIf you’re a call admin, the next time you go into the general-settings area for your call you’ll see a new field (labeled “Public Description”) that you can use to customize the text that gets displayed on the public call-details page (aka the call landing page).

Previously, there was only one field (Call Description) that was used for both the public call-details page and at the top of the new-proposal page. Some of our users pointed out that displaying the same content on the two pages could be confusing, so we added the second field. Now, the public call-details page will display the text from the Public Description field instead of the Call Description field. (The text in the Call Description field will continue to be displayed on the new-proposal page.)

We’ve made sure the change is backwards compatible, so if there is no text in the Public Description field, the text from the Call Description field will continue to be used on both pages.

Conference Live Streaming

Posting pictures after an event can engage your attendees once they return home, but what about engaging a larger audience—both present and remote—during your event? Here are some sites/apps that make it easier than ever to broadcast events, like major announcements, keynotes, breakout sessions, and panel discussions.

Periscope (Twitter)

Periscope LogoIf you’re on Twitter then you might have seen or heard of Periscope, an app that connects with Twitter to broadcast live video from from a smartphone, GoPro, or even a drone. Named the Apple App Store’s Best App of 2015, Periscope reinvigorated social platforms to focus on live content and even classify it higher in their algorithms. According to their website, Periscope is “the closest thing to teleportation” available.

Audience feedback can be sent to the content creator in real time via comments and heart images, which disappear after a few moments after appearing in the lower, right-hand corner of the video. Moderation of chat spam and abuse is managed by the audience watching each broadcast. Videos can either be saved indefinitely (now the default) or automatically deleted 24 hours hours after broadcast.

How to use Periscope for a speaker session:

  • Send out a tweet letting people know that you are broadcasting live. (Be sure to use the conference/session topic or location in the title of your broadcast).
  • Respond to in-app audience questions as they are asked, or write them down and have the speaker answer them at the end of the session.

Facebook Live

facebook-live-logo-vector-download-400x400Leave it to Facebook to quickly adopt a social trend and work incredibly hard to outdo other platforms. With Facebook Live, you can broadcast from your phone and your friends can comment and react using Facebook Reactions that slide across your video. Once you go live on Facebook, the platform’s algorithm places your video at the top of your friends’ news feeds, which can be huge for your live content and page. Once you end your live streaming session the video will be available for playback on the profile page of the account you used to film. You can even “boost” the video after it has been posted to increase views, likes, and comments.

How to get the most out of Facebook Live:

  • Thank users as they join and try to answer as many comments as possible.
  • Include as many social-media influencers into your stream as possible (with interviews, Q&A with live viewers, networking session footage, etc.) and tag them.
  • Use your conference hashtag in the title of the broadcast.
  • Keep it shorter. Facebook prioritizes live video higher in their news-feed algorithm, so unlike Periscope, many of your viewers probably were not expecting to see your content when they signed on. Keep it short to keep their attention.

Youtube Connect (Google)

YouTubeYouTube has been the internet’s video giant for years. Owned by Google, it makes sense for them to get in on all the live-broadcasting action. Live broadcasting is definitely not new on YouTube (it’s been available to certain users since 2011), but Google has been working to build out increased live streaming functionality for its app to compete with Periscope and others. This app update has not yet been released, but many are counting on it to up the ante for other live streaming apps.

How to increase engagement using YouTube:

  • Classify your videos into public playlists per conference/event.
  • You can record for longer periods of time on YouTube and still maintain viewership (unlike Facebook).
  • Embed the video into your own website.


We’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to live-streaming products, focusing on the ones we think will get you the highest engagement for your time and energy. There are plenty of other apps out there, though, many of which might be a better fit. Leave a comment and share with us if you use something else that has brought you great results or have additional questions about live streaming.

Making the Best of a PR Disaster

We all hope to avoid PR issues when planning a large conference or event. Although we hate to admit it, some things are out of our control and even the best-laid plans can go awry. We might find ourselves having worked on an event for years, only to get blindsided by a controversy, like union strikes or North Carolina’s recent HB2 legislation, which forbids LGBT anti-discrimination protections. Amid all the uproar, meeting organizers can suddenly find themselves having to choose between moving a meeting or taking a hit on attendance.

It is understandable that organizers are worried about attendance. In response to HB2, a handful of states and localities have announced bans on non-essential travel for employees to North Carolina. Such bans probably won’t affect most types of events, but for events that rely heavily on public-sector attendees, like the Bus & Paratransit Conference of the American Public Transit Association (APTA), the effects could be huge.

Official travel bans may not be an organizer’s only worry. High Point Market, the state’s largest annual economic event, stated in a press release that the law meant “hundreds and perhaps thousands of our customers will not attend Market this April”, causing “significant economic damage to High Point Market and the North Carolina economy.”

Neither APTA nor High Point Market can relocate their meeting—APTA for contractual reasons and High Point Market for geographical reasons. Other groups, however, have decided to take that route. The Charlotte News & Observer reported that as of April 21, over 20 groups had dropped plans for holding meetings in the city. (One group, B Lab, has provided an insightful accounting of the process they used to come to their decision.)

Whether deciding to move your event or stay put, here are some Pro Tips to help you handle a PR disaster that threatens to affect attendance:

  • Acknowledge the issue. It is unprofessional to bury your head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. Make a public statement acknowledging the situation, apologizing when necessary, and explaining what actions have been and will be taken in response.
  • Clarify your position. If your business or organization has an official position on the issue—even if that position is neutrality—state it clearly. If the issue is important enough to your organization or attendees, consider taking a more active role supporting allied organizations and/or encouraging attendees to do the same.
  • Focus on what change you can control. If possible, work with the event venue to get around the controversy—for example, by making bathrooms gender-neutral—even if just for your event.
  • Support those who can’t attend. If the purpose of your event is information distribution or creative exchange, then consider how you can do so via the internet. Consider bolstering your online content by live streaming, live blogging, and live tweeting sessions and keynotes. Webinars and podcasts are also good options. (Note that podcasts can be offered for free or for a download fee.) All these options allow for information distribution to still occur even if your physical attendance is lower than originally anticipated. If membership is a focus, offer it and benefits at a promotional rate during the conference and for a short time before/after online to incentivize new memberships. You could also offer additional online content throughout the event in a “member only” section of your website for those who cannot participate in person.

We would love to hear from you about additional strategies for maintaining good face in light of a PR disaster. Has your association or business been affected by a controversy that was beyond its control? Share your experiences or ideas in the comments.

Using Emojis

If you’ve received a text message recently, chances are pretty high it included an emoji. Emojis, which evolved from the simple emoticon, have become so popular that the Oxford English Dictionary named the “Face with Tears of Joy” emoji (😂) its 2015 “word” of the year. (One of the main reasons they cited was a dramatic increase in the use of emojis.)

Facebook Reactions

The emoji has even taken over social-media platforms. Facebook has long had a “Like” button, allowing users to easily react to posts without having to type comments. However, users have long requested a “Dislike” button for content that they don’t feel comfortable liking. Rather than just add a “Dislike” option, Facebook chose to include the more expansive Facebook Reactions. Facebook has allowed stickers in their Messenger product for a long time, but the launch of Reactions has started a shift in the user experience.

On Twitter, branded hashtag emojis are gaining a lot of traction with both brands and users. (For those who don’t know, a branded emoji is added to a tweet by using a specific hashtag.) Twitter made these extremely popular when they automatically added #StarWarsEmojis to people’s tweets when “Starwars: The Force Awakens” was released. Twitter has also had success with branded emojis for the #AMAs. The platform saw an extreme increase in online engagement for both topics, all because they incorporated emojis.

So can emojis help an association better engage members? Absolutely! AssociationsNow has blogged about how emojis can help associations with advocacy work and having conversations about diversity. Emojis are also a perfect way to engage millennials.

Here are some tips for using emojis as part of your association’s social-media strategy:

  • Use emojis in Facebook posts and tweets, either to convey emotion (😀) or to save space (like using 📅 instead of the word “calendar” or ❤️ in place of “love”).
  • Start associating an emoji with your organization. For example, 💰 could be used for the Financial Planning Association and ☕️ for the National Coffee Association.
  • Don’t overwhelm your readers with emojis. A good rule of thumb is to use three or fewer. Emojis are all about simplicity, so keep it short and sweet.
  • Sneak them into “real life” at your events—on stickers, keychains, or other “swag”, or by making them edible (think cookies, cakes, cupcakes, suckers, etc.).

One small note: Emojis can appear slightly different across platforms, so what you see on a Mac might not be exactly the same on an Android or Windows product.

Take a minute and share with us the emoji you think works best for your association. Remember to keep it short and sweet! 😀

Changes to the Data-Export Tool

One of our users recently reported a problem with the way our data-export tool was handling special characters. Abstracts for his call often contain mathematical symbols, which were being displayed correctly on the ProposalSpace website, but were becoming garbled in the output file generated by the data-export tool. For example, Δ (delta) was showing up as Δ and ± (plus-minus) was showing up as ±.

We fixed the issue by changing the character encoding for the output file. Now, any character that is displayed correctly on the website is also displayed correctly in the output file.

(A special note: Some programs, like MS Word, might ask what encoding to use when opening the file. If that happens, select “Unicode” on Windows or “Unicode 6.3 (Little-Endian)” on Mac.)

Also, we’ve removed the “strip HTML” option from the data-export tool and made that the default action. If you miss having that option, just let us know and we’ll be happy to put it back!

New Option in Data Export for HTML Tags

The data-export feature now has an option for controlling how HTML-formatted text is exported. You can find it on the data-export page (Tools -> Data Export) right above the Create Report button:


So if you’ve set up any of your forms (submission, role, or review) to include a formatted-text field, you can now tell the data-export feature whether you want that text exported as formatted text (with HTML tags) or as unformatted text (without HTML tags).

For example, let’s say you have a field in your Presenter role form for the presenter’s bio. You’ve set up the field so the user can format the text, but you don’t want any of that formatting when you export the bio. Now, all you have to do is check the box at the bottom of the data-export feature and voilà—all of the HTML code is stripped out!