Customer Connect: Ginger Phillips

Ginger Phillips

This time of year we are especially thankful for our users. In an effort to get to know them better, we recently caught up with one of our most loyal call admins, Dr. Ginger Phillips (right).  Ginger is President of association-management company Arden Solutions in Belleair Bluffs, Florida.

PS: Tell us a little about yourself and how you first discovered ProposalSpace.

GP: The short answer is I help professional associations get organized. One of the many services I offer is helping an association manage its annual conference, including selecting session speakers. After searching for a quality, secure, and affordable abstract management system, I found ProposalSpace when I used it to submit my own proposal to an association to which I belonged, and have been using the site ever since with my clients. As a matter of fact, I like it so much I spent some time in the ProposalSpace booth at an ASAE conference a few years ago telling people what a great product it is. I’m a big fan.

PS: How long have you been using ProposalSpace?

GP: I’ve used ProposalSpace for over six years. In that time I’ve managed about 25 calls for six different associations. I keep coming back because Dan keeps making the site better, which in turn makes my job easier. I love being able to pull forward calls from previous years, easily make changes, and quickly publish without getting a headache.

PS: Is there any specific feature you like?

GP: There are so many! I like the copy feature because, while every conference is slightly different from year to year, a majority of the details remain the same. It’s convenient to just click a button and have all of the settings copied over so I don’t have to enter them again. I also like how easy it is to use the Advanced Scheduling Module. I just drag and drop sessions and it automatically checks for conflicts to keep me from scheduling someone in two places at the same time. The Publishing Module is great because it allows the entire program to be displayed on a client’s website without having to download and upload files every time there’s a change. It also lets speakers upload session materials, which are then immediately available for download. No more collecting and distributing handouts! More generally, I like that I can manage multiple calls from one place and have complete control over everything. If I need to make a change, I just pull up the call and it’s done. There’s no need to go back and forth with someone and then wait for the change to work its way through their system.

PS: You mentioned that you work with several associations. Tell us a little more about your business.

GP: Arden Solutions provides a number of organizations with integrated expertise in association management, professional development, and the business of meetings. Some of our clients include the Academy of Financial Services, the American Council on Consumer Interests, and the University of South Florida Office of Research. Our team has formal education combined with over 60 years of experience in association management, continuing professional education and professional meeting planning. We help with the numerous needs an association might have, from hiring paid staff for the first time to selecting proven vendors, like ProposalSpace.

PS: Anything else you’d like to share?

GP: ProposalSpace is a great find for anyone who manages a call for abstracts or proposals. In my opinion, it’s the best option out there. Trust me, I’ve looked!


Special thanks to Dr. Ginger Phillips for taking time out of her busy schedule to chat with us. For more about Ginger and Arden Solutions, check out the Arden Solutions website at www.ardensolutions.com.

New Feature: Review-Chair Submission Approvals

We’ve got another exciting new feature for call admins! Now, you can allow review chairs to approve submissions for review.

ScreenshotPreviously, only call admins could approve submissions. Now, if you would like to delegate that responsibility, just pull up the settings for the review chair (in the appropriate review group) and check the "Allow?" box for the "Approve submissions" setting. (See the screenshot to the right.)

One important thing to keep in mind: Submission fees are paid when proposals are approved for review, so anyone who has permission to approve submissions will be able to charge the submission fees (but nothing else) to the credit card on file.

New Feature: Returned Submissions for Review Chairs

We’ve added a new feature to the Tracker: Now, review chairs can see submissions that have been returned for edits.

Previously, only call admins could see returned submissions. We heard from a call admin, however, that she didn’t want to promote her review chairs to admins just so they could track returned submissions. We thought it was a great idea, so we built it in!

Once again, this shows that the best ideas come from our users. If you’ve got an improvement you would like to see, feel free to pass it along. We’d love to hear it!

New Feature: Copy Options for Calls

We’ve got another new feature to announce! Call admins can now fine-tune the settings that are included when copying a call.

Copy-Options ScreenshotPreviously, all of a call’s settings were copied except the administrators and review groups, which had to be added back to the copy. Now, you can tell the system to include those settings in the copy (see the screenshot to the right) or to make a copy without those settings (in case you want a different set of administrators, for example).

Also, if your call has a custom review form, there’s now an option to include the custom form with the copy or to use the default form.

Check it all out and let us know what you think!

New Feature: Add Yourself

We’ve been adding a lot of new features to the site recently, but haven’t been updating the blog to let everyone know about them. (Sorry!)

add yourself optionOne feature we’ve just added, though, is definitely worth mentioning: An “add yourself” option when adding users to a proposal.

Previously, if you wanted to add yourself to a proposal, you first had to search for your account in ProposalSpace, like you would when adding anyone else. It wasn’t much of an inconvenience (just one step), but why not streamline it? Now, when you want to add someone to a proposal, you’re given an option to add yourself or add someone else. If you want to add someone else, the process stays the same. If, however, you want to add yourself, just click that option and you’re done!

New Feature: Reviewer Messages

new reviewer messages optionCall admins can now email reviewers using the Messaging Module!

Just go into the Messaging Module and click the New Message button, like you always have. At the top of the form, you’ll see a new field labeled “For” (right). To send messages to reviewers, just select “Reviewers” from the drop-down box, then select which review group(s) and roles (review chairs and/or reviewers) to send the message to.

As with all messages sent using the Messaging Module, the system archives the message and provides delivery receipts.

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Facebook Algorithm Change Can Benefit Associations

This week, Facebook changed their algorithm for users’ News Feeds, making it more difficult for “fake news” and click-bait links to gain traction on the social-media platform. According to an article on TechCrunch, Facebook will now detect and downrank links and headlines that include any of the following:

  • Exaggerative & sensational headlines
  • Headlines that withhold information
  • Misleading content

One key element of the change is that Facebook will no longer rely on the source of the offending content, instead evaluating each post individually. The update will be available to identify fake news in the top 10 languages that Facebook accounts use.

So what does this mean for your association? When writing headlines, especially for content that might be shared on Facebook, make sure they are clear and honest. By doing so you may drastically increase your page’s organic reach.

This change may also be a great advantage for associations advertising on Facebook to boost their own posts, links, or page. One of the primary reasons why the social media giant is making this change is to re-establish consumer trust in their News Feeds, which is prime real estate for paid ads. By withholding click bait or fake content from users, Facebook will build trust with its base and advertisers can count on more ad clicks and legitimate referral traffic.

Something’s Different…

Some of you may have noticed a different look to our public pages (and slight changes to some of the pages on the back end of the site). That’s because we’ve had work done. 🙂

Old Login PageNew Login PageThe new design is meant to make the site’s public pages more attractive and mobile friendly. We’ve already incorporated some of the new design elements into the back end, but that process is a lot more involved and will take more time than the changes to the front end, so we’ll be releasing those more gradually.

We also made some minor improvements to functionality, but overall everything should work exactly like it did before… it just looks a little better. For example, check out the old version of the login page (top) compared to the new version (bottom).

Of course, if you come across anything that looks out of place or doesn’t work like it did before, please let us know and we’ll fix it ASAP.

New Feature: Activity Reports

If you’re a call admin, the next time you sign in you’ll see a couple of changes we’ve made to the Administrators page for your call.

We’ve changed the layout of the page (right) to use cards instead of a list. Each card contains the admin’s name, organization, email address, and whether they are signed up to receive activity reports (“Notifications”).

When you mouse over a card, a menu appears (right) with three icons that let you do the following:

  • modify the admin’s settings
  • email the admin
  • remove the admin

If you click the settings icon, a popup window will appear (right) with options that allow you to control what type of notifications the admin receives and when they’re delivered.

If the admin is signed up to receive notifications, it’s reflected on their card with a green checkmark (right).

You can sign up or cancel notifications at any time, and there is no additional charge to receive them, so why not try it out and let us know what you think!

Session Titles That Shine

An abstract’s title, description, and learning objectives are the core of every presenter’s “sales pitch” to both reviewers and attendees. However, very few presenters have an understanding of how to sell their presentation using even the most basic marketing techniques. Perhaps as a result, 95% of meeting organizers report having to rewrite speakers’ submissions1.

ProposalSpace allows admins and review chairs to edit submissions directly or return them for editing and resubmission.

While organizers may have the best intentions when adding a little shine to a session, they also run the risk of overdoing it and promising more than a presenter can deliver, which in turn can disappoint the audience. So ideally, presenters would submit proposals that need little or no editing at all.

To help accomplish that, here are some tips for presenters (and organizers) when crafting session titles. (We’ve decided to focus on the title because it serves as the “hook” for drawing in a reader’s interest and leading them to the description and objectives.)

  • Keep it short. Attendees often skim over session titles to see if anything grabs their attention. A shorter title is simply more eye-catching. To check your title length, consider how easily you could use it to invite someone in passing to attend your session. If you cannot get it all out in a few seconds, then continue editing.
  • Target it to a specific audience. When writing your title, you should have a specific audience in mind. Craft your title in such a way as to convey what that group can expect to get from the session.
  • Employ intrigue. Spark the reader’s curiosity by teasing a short list, privileged knowledge, or a personal story.

Tell us what you think! If you ‘ve had particular success with title writing/editing, then share with us in the comment section below or on twitter (@proposalspace).

1Cobb, Jeff, Jeff Hurt, Dave Lutz, Sarah Michel, and Celisa Steele. “The Speaker Report: The Use of Professional and Industry Speakers in the Meetings Market.” Velvet Chainsaw. http://velvetchainsaw.com/pdf/Velvet-Chainsaw-Tagoras-2013-Speaker-Report_v2.pdf.