Revised Delivery Criteria for the Messaging Module

We’ve made a slight change to the way messages are sent with the Messaging Module.

Previously the module always sent one copy per user per proposal. Unfortunately that could be confusing if an individual had more than one proposal because someone could receive multiple copies of the same message and not understand why.

The module continues to send one copy per user per proposal, but only if the message contains proposal-specific merge fields, like the proposal ID or title. That way, if someone receives multiple copies it should be clear which proposal each copy is for. If, however, the message does not contain proposal-specific merge fields, then the module sends just one copy per user, regardless of how many proposals that user is associated with.

To help understand the change, here is an example: Mary is associated with two proposals. In one she is a speaker and in the other she is both a speaker and the primary contact. You set up a message to go to all speakers and primary contacts for all proposals. If the message includes proposal-specific merge fields (e.g. the proposal title) Mary will receive two copies (one copy per proposal). Otherwise, she will receive just one copy.

screenshotWe’ve also made a slight change to the module’s interface (right). When you are editing a message, the module still provides a count of how many messages will be sent but now that number is an active link to a popup that displays the full list of recipients. (BTW, the screenshot shows 19 copies for 21 draft proposals because the message does not contain proposal-specific merge fields. That means only one message is sent per user, regardless of how many proposals each user created. In other words, 19 users created 21 proposals. If one or more proposal-specific merge fields were added to the message body, the number would increase to 21, or one copy per proposal.)

Pro tip: Always include proposal information (ID and/or title) in the message body. It really cuts down on confusion, especially when a recipient has more than one proposal in the system, which most do. Take for example someone with two proposals: one unsubmitted (draft) and the other submitted. If you were to send a message only to draft proposals but did not include proposal information in the message, the recipient would have no way of knowing which proposal the message was for and might think the proposal they submitted was not actually submitted.

New Feature: Messaging Module Draft Recipient List

The Messaging Module now includes a feature that allows call admins to view the list of recipients for a message before the message is sent!

screenshot of linkJust create your message like you always have. When you go to preview the message, you’ll see a link at the end of the "To" header (right) indicating how many messages will be sent. Click that link and a window will open with a list of the recipients and how many copies each will receive. (Recipients receive one copy per proposal, so someone with multiple proposals would receive more than one copy of the message.)

The link is also displayed for draft messages on the main Messaging Module page.

After a message has been sent, the link is replaced with a list of actual recipients and the delivery status for each one.

New Feature: Labels in the Messaging Module

Call admins can now use proposal labels when defining message recipients in the Messaging Module!

screenshot of labels option in Messaging ModuleWhen you create a message for proposals, you’ll notice the "To" section (right) now has a "Labels" option to the right of the status and recipients options. (Unlike the status and recipients options, the Labels option is optional and only displayed if your call actually has labels. Also, it’s only available for messages to proposals, not reviewers.)

To use the new labels option, just click it and select the label(s) you would like to include in your selection criteria. As before, the "Total emails to be sent" counter will immediately update to reflect the number of recipients that match your criteria.

If you select more than one label, it’s important to understand that a proposal will only be considered a match if the selected labels are a subset of the proposal’s labels. In other words, a proposal’s labels must contain all of the labels you provide. For example, if you want to send a message to all proposals labeled "a" and "b", a proposal labeled "a", "b", and "c" will be a match, but one labeled just "a" will not. Nor will one labeled "a" and "c".

As always, if you have any feedback—especially ideas for improvement—please don’t hesitate to let us know!

Tips for Integrating TikTok Into Your Conference or Event

What is TikTok?

TikTok logoIn 2014, a company called Musical.ly released an app designed to make it easy for anyone with a smartphone to upload short-looping videos of themselves lip-syncing songs. In 2018, Musical.ly merged with TikTok, another video-sharing service. Content generated with the app has quickly evolved beyond simple lip-sync videos to include just about any type of brief, viral content imaginable, including memes, pranks, and challenges. As of late 2019, the app has reportedly been downloaded 1.5 billion times and has an astounding 700 million active daily users.

From celebrities to college students, the platform has become a prime option for reaching new audiences and ensuring a brand is part of relevant trends and cultural movements. So if you want your conference or event to be at the forefront of social-media marketing and engagement, check out our tips for integrating TikTok.

Marketing Your Event

TikTok’s users tend to skew young compared to most other social-media platforms. According to TikTok itself, 41 percent of its users are between 16 and 24. So while you might not get an immediate return on investment, you can begin building interest and excitement in a younger audience segment that will begin filling your member/attendee pipeline.

With TikTok’s huge (and growing) userbase, many content creators have already accumulated large followings that interact with the videos they post. Similar to how you might work with a blogger or Instagram influencer, you can look for a creator on TikTok that has a connection to your industry. Just search one of your popular industry hashtags and look through the results for a creator with a large following and branded content in their profile.

Another option is to create ads directly through TikTok similar to companies like Pepsi, H&M, and BRITA. These and other companies sponsor hashtag challenges that motivate users to utilize their products or marketing campaign themes in their video content. More about TikTok ads.

Engaging Attendees

Consider these ways you might integrate TikTok videos into your event to update or modernize conference/meeting staples:

  • Create a “TikTok corner” or photo booth, complete with your event marketing and association logo. This is really a two-for-one as attendees may also use the space to take a selfie or video and post it to other social-media platforms!
  • Use TikTok as an icebreaker in a group setting by challenging attendees to work with the person next to them to film their elevator pitch or what they’re hoping to get out of the event. This is also something that could easily be done on an attendee’s other social-media accounts if they don’t have TikTok.
  • Highlight TikTok videos that include your event hashtag just as you might do on a social-media wall or projection of tagged content on Twitter or Instagram.

Whether you’re utilizing TikTok as a marketing tool or way to engage attendees, it is all about making and sharing fun video content. You might even choose to use TikTok lip-sync videos as a way to lighten up and reenergize a room after a lunch break or longer session breakout. The possibilities are as endless as your creativity. Let us know in the comments or on the ProposalSpace Twitter if you end up integrating TikTok into your conference or event and have ideas to share!


It’s worth noting that some government agencies, like the U.S. Army and Navy, ban TikTok on employees’ devices due to security concerns regarding the company’s ownership and perceived ties to the Chinese government. So if your conference or meeting has a significant number of attendees who work for the government, your TikTok user base might not be as extensive.

Snapchat Pro Tips

Snapchat has changed the way we think about video content on social media but has been challenging for many associations to understand and use for their audiences, while also being worth their time, energy, and resources invested into the app. Even still, it’s an important platform for associations to utilize as more people use Snapchat than Twitter, in terms of daily use. Disappearing content and unedited video are extremely popular with millennials, and Facebook, the most popular social media platform, predicts video content is the future of online engagement.

Here are the best practices we’ve found to work for associations:

  • Make A Story. While sending individual snaps would be an excellent way to engage users, creating snaps specifically for your story is a much more effective use of your time and energy. Your Snap story could feature a keynote speaker, poster presentations, networking event, or even lunch! Just make sure your story has an attention-grabbing start, solid narrative, and concise conclusion that drives your overall content strategy. In short, create a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It is also important to note that quality is more important than quantity.
  • Let Someone Else Take Over. A Snapchat takeover is when you give your account information to someone else and they promote your brand or product in a new, unique way. Oftentimes, you are able to reach a much larger audience than you might otherwise reach by having an “influencer” involved. If you can identify a popular social media influencer, with commonality to your brand/industry, then you should consider having them promote your conference or event. Many influencers will work in exchange for free conference registration or their annual membership. Of course, they are also willing to market your function for a paycheck! If unable to identify a popular media influencer or pay one, then consider having different association staff/interns, members, or volunteers do a platform take over. (And don’t forget to change your account password after each takeover is complete.)
  • Create Geofilters. Geofilters are an excellent way to get your business in front of people and create brand engagement on Snapchat. They allow a great opportunity for users to engage with your brand who would otherwise not do so!

ProposalSpace Snapchat GeofilterProposalSpace Snapchat GeofilterTo the left are examples of a Geofilter ProposalSpace created and ran during the 2016 ASAE Annual Conference in Salt Lake City.

Is your association on Snapchat? Comment with a great snap you’ve saved and any additional ideas you have!

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.

Think Like Your Attendees

Dave Lutz, over at the Midcourse Corrections blog, lays out six really good ways to improve your conference committee.

Here at ProposalSpace, we always try to see things through the eyes of our users, so we especially liked his recommendation to “Walk in the attendee’s shoes”:

Many conference committees evaluate potential sessions and speakers using more information than the attendees will see. Attendees make the decision to attend based on session title, session description, and learning objectives. Embrace a blind review process. It will help eliminate personal agendas and challenge the committee to evaluate the program as a paying attendee would.

What to Include in Every Call

Wondering what information you should include in your call? Here’s our checklist of the key pieces of information every call should have. (You can really never have too much information, though, so consider these the minimum.)

  • Submission deadline (Yes, we have seen numerous calls that neglect to mention the date submissions are due. If you don’t have one, set one. People need to know how much time they have or they may never even begin to work on their proposals.)
  • Purpose / theme (Don’t assume everyone knows exactly what the call is about. Assume instead that this is their first time to hear about it. At a minimum, give them a general description of what you’re looking for. If possible, provide a list of specific topics.)
  • Qualifications (Let people know up front if there are any requirements they must meet—like being a member of your association—in order to respond to your call. If the call is open, be sure to mention that, too.)
  • Contact information (There will be questions. Don’t make it difficult for people to get answers. Always include contact information so they can easily reach you with questions, comments, or concerns.)
  • Examples (This isn’t absolutely necessary, but examples of previous submissions are a terrific way to show people what works—or doesn’t work.)

For conferences, you should also include the conference dates and location. That way, people can determine whether they can attend.

Lastly, if the information for your call is on your Web site (which it should be), try to keep it all on one page. Not only does it make it easier to find information, it also makes it easier for people to print it all out.