Bobi Martin RAE Arizona
Regional Advisors spend a good deal of our “could be writing or drawing” time planning events to help our members. We strive to create interesting programs that support and educate our illustrators, our unpublished members, members who’ve made a couple of sales, and our PAL members. This in itself is a challenge! RAs whose regions encompass a sprawling geographic area (sometimes an entire state!) face another challenge. How to you support those far-flung members who can’t justify traveling hours from home for a half-day event, and can’t afford the expense of an overnight stay for full day events?
Something that worked for me was giving my members the opportunity to propose an event in their area. Members were invited to plan an event and submit it to me for approval. This included who they wanted as speakers, their proposed date, anticipated costs, etc. They had to find a free or low-cost location, and get bids for box lunches or a snack and beverage break. As the RA, I approved proposed expenses, set the cost of the event, and paid the bills, but most of the work was handled by the hosting members. These events were successful on several levels. Members felt connected to our region, more members stepped forward to propose events (taking some of the burden of planning off of me), and we heard wonderful speakers—some of whom waived an honorarium because they were the editor or agent of the members planning the event.
Webinars are another way to host an event that nearly every member in your region can attend. A big plus of webinars is that they involve minimal cost. You don’t need to reserve a space, offer refreshments, or pay travel costs for speakers. Allowing for differences in time zones, you may be able to feature a speaker your region couldn’t afford to bring in person. Not tech savvy? There are a number of webinar hosting sites that will walk you through the process and can even help set up collecting payment.
By mixing the ways we offer programs in our regions we can help even our far-flung members feel connected and supported.
Bobi Martin was the 1994 Member of the Year. She is the author of 10 nonfiction books, over 100 magazine articles, and has worked in advertising. She has edited over 25 published books for educational and small presses, including Creative Teaching Press. Find more about Bobi here: www.bobimartin.com