PCMA is more aggressively marketing itself to corporate meeting pros
The Professional Convention Management Association recently released the names of its 2008 board of director nominees. These nominees, if elected, will take office after PCMA's annual meeting in January. Reading over the list, we were interested to see the names of two corporate meeting professionals: Kati Quigley, CMP, director, eventat Microsoft Corp., incumbent; and Susan Katz, director of corporate events at True Value Co. Assuming that the slate goes through, this will mark the first time PCMA has had more than one corporate planner on its board.
What's going on here? Isn't PCMA basically an organization for association meeting professionals? To set the record straight, we put in a call to Deborah Sexton, president and CEO of the 6,000-member, Chicago-based group.
CMI: What is PCMA's membership focus?
SEXTON: For the 2 1/2 years I've been on staff — and prior to that when I was a trustee — we've never thought of [PCMA] as exclusively an association organization. We did start as a large-medical-association meeting professionals organization, [then evolved] into an association meeting professionals organization, and then brought in corporate senior-level meeting professionals. We're dealing with the senior level, the leadership level, of the industry. Over the years, as education became our emphasis, both corporate and association professionals were interested in benefiting from that education.
CMI: Can you serve both audiences?
SEXTON: When you get to a certain level where you're talking about leadership, you're talking about strategic planning, you're talking aboutskills, trends … those kinds of sessions are just as critical to association planners as to corporate planners. We're the only organization that I know of in our industry that is tied to major business schools: Wharton, Rotman, and the University of Chicago.
CMI: Are you marketing PCMA to corporate planners more aggressively now than you were before?
SEXTON: If you sit back and ask, “What market segments have we not maximized that could benefit from the education we're creating?” the answer is that we have never been very aggressive in reaching out to [corporations]. [Our corporate planners] have stumbled upon PCMA. In today's marketplace, you have to tell people what you're all about. … I think there's a tremendous opportunity for PCMA with senior-level corporate meeting professionals, tremendous opportunity.
CMI: How many corporate planner members does PCMA have?
SEXTON: Thirty-one percent of our planner members are either corporate planners or independent planners.
CMI: Do you hope to give Meeting Professionals International a run for its money in terms of those senior-level corporate planners?
SEXTON: If they're not getting what they need from MPI, and they feel what we're providing is beneficial.
CMI: You just presented at the American Express Strategic Meeting Management Forum, an event for corporate planners. What took you there?
SEXTON: They reached out to me to come and talk to their top corporate meeting and procurement customers about the association community and PCMA. We are working very closely with American Express on a strategic partnership program, assisting them in communicating with the meetings industry as they try to figure out how to get more organizations interested in using their card.
CMI: Will there be more sessions specifically for corporate planners at your conference in January?
SEXTON: We do have some that are of more interest to the corporate market, such as “Proving the Value of Meetings and Events” with Jack Phillips of theInstitute; “The Business of Events” with Jeff Singsaas from Microsoft Corp.; or “Demystifying the PhRMA Codes: A Global Perspective.” I don't want to have exclusive sessions [at the conference] for corporate or association planners, but I think where we will ultimately be exclusive is with “communities of practice” online, where groups of like interest can congregate. We're looking at them and analyzing them.
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