You’d expect a gathering of over 600 JCC professional and lay leaders to showcase lots of clever thinking. But what made last week’s JCCA Biennial Convention in New Orleans so great from a marketing point of view was the profusion of terrific ideas in action. Here are just a few.
Let’s start with the Biennial app, which 70% of conference attendees downloaded to their iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Built on a ‘white label’ platform developed by guidebook.com, the Biennial app gave smartphone users instant access to the convention’s scheduled programs, local maps, daily newsletters, and tweeted comments. Having all this information in one’s palm meant no more panicky fumbling in the tote bag to check where you’re supposed to be! The app also served as a digital forum for attendees to cast votes, providing immediate feedback on questions posed to the body politic — proof that such technology is now firmly in the mainstream.
We heard about a great concept from the youth & family program director at Seattle’s Stroum JCC. He has identified six parents who have significant social media followings and mobilized them into a ‘blogger army’ to get the word out on new events. It’s a peer-to-peer marketing approach that’s working brilliantly.
And then there was the remarkable keynote presentation by social media guru Chris Brogan, which was almost ruined by an electrical short. Ironically, this helped him make his case even more effectively. By having to tell his stories without slides or video, Brogan demonstrated that communications is powered by human substance, not just digital gimickry.
Finally, we learned from Tulane University’s president Scott Cowen that institutions can become so comfortable that they lose sight of their community. The disaster of Katrina actually forced the school to completely rethink its mission, which is now focused on dynamic connections with the community at large. Academia is no longer walled off from the citizenry, much to the enrichment of students, faculty and the greater good of New Orleans.
May we all be inspired by these and the many other terrific ideas shared at the Biennial, and let’s put them into action for ourselves.
Michael Rowland | Marketing Consultant, JCC Association
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