Publications

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A convention may have many publications, depending on the character of the convention. Some publications may go out well in advance, such as Progress Reports. Some may be advertisements for prospective members or reminders for returning members. Some may be commemoratives of the entire convention or specific special events at that convention.

In any case, the publication should in some way carry the theme of the convention, and be easily associated with it at a glance. Clean design and good content and formatting that entices the reader to want to read more are the guidelines.

Printed Publications

In addition to advance Progress Reports, a convention usually has a program book and might (especially for "world" level conventions) also have a commemorative Souvenir Book for distribution to members as they arrive. The program book often has photos and appreciations of the guests of honor, resumes of the prospective panelists, descriptions of panel topics, essays by the convention organizers, maps of the local area, restaurant guides, etc. The souvenir book may expand into more essays by guests, or even fiction.

The program book information must usually be updated due to schedule changes shortly before and during the convention. These updates are often published daily in a newsletter, informing the reader of recent changes to the program schedule, and pointing out highlights of the previous day's events. If area map and restaurant information is not included in the program book, a convention may print up a separate Restaurant Guide. Since people generally share rides and plan meals together, you do not need to print as many restaurant guides as you do program books.

Some conventions also publish a Pocket Program. This is typically a brief, perhaps even single-sheet grid version of the program schedule, plus other quick reference information like dealers room and art show hours, the location of childcare, etc. Because it is small and simple a pocket program can be printed quickly right before the convention starts and often has a slightly more accurate version of the schedule than the program book, which is usually delivered to the printer at least a week before the convention.

For promotional purposes, the publications department may also design and produce a flyer to be handed out at other events. If your convention is hosting a Room Party at another event, you may want to produce a special-edition flyer that promotes both the convention and the room party.

Advertising, both in terms of receiving ads for the Program Book and in terms of ad design and Ad Placement in other people's publications, is generally handled by Publications as well. Because many conventions swap ads without exchanging money, an incoming Publications Head will want to be sure to get the Ad Swap list from the previous year so you don't get suprised by pre-existing obligations.

Not all publications will be picked up by 100% of your attendees -- even if you assemble packets for registrants. Arisia has historically had a pickup rate of 65%-70% for the Souvenir Book and 100%-105% for the Pocket Program.

Electronic Publications

There are many ways to get the word out over the Internet. The most prominent would likely be the web site for the convention. Since it can be accessed from all over the world, this may very well become the face the Convention shows to the world. It can updated relatively easily, so it will be the first place many people will look to find up to date information as the convention approaches, and perhaps even during the convention.

Some information on the web site might be for convention organizers only. It might become necessary to set up a password-security system on the web site to prevent this information from being accessed by the general public. Or it might be better to set up a web site for internal use only, with less publicity than the main site.

Along with the web site, a convention might maintain one or more e-mail mailing lists, for the purpose of discussing or disseminating information about aspects of the convention, or for use among convention planners. An e-mail mailing list has the advantage of being targeted to interested parties who can hold discussions among themselves as needed. It has the disadvantage that information in e-mail can be passed around freely, and perhaps out of context to the original discussion.

Yahoo Groups, Google Groops, and other portal services offer mailing list services free of charge, and most modern domain hosting services include email functions (multiple addresses, web mail, forwarding to other addresses, and both discussion and announce-only mailing lists). It is possible that a convention committee may have technically adept persons that may offer to host the convention web site and/or mail servers at home. While this may be convienient, strong consideration must be given to the long term stability and reliability of such systems, in the face of constant use by the convention organization and members. For big enough conventions, the bandwidth of privately-run servers may also be an issue. Web and email may very well be critical systems for your convention, and if so they must have rock solid reliability.

The latest tool for disseminating schedule and related info is a mobile ap. These can be very convenient for attendees.