Conference Review: 2021
by Dustin Dumas, Station Manager, South Orange Maplewood Television
The 2021 Eastern Video Expo conference was designed to bring the media community together to learn and share and this year it was virtual. As the station manager for South Orange Maplewood Television, I was looking forward to attending to learn and share ideas of best practices as well as see what the vendors offered for our small station and, of course, attend the JAG Awards!
The Expo did not disappoint and despite not being able to meet the other attendees in person, the virtual aspect did not hinder learning and connecting with the community.
From a technical aspect, the Expo was well-run. The main room and the breakout rooms were easy to access and the chat function within those rooms allowed for participants to engage with speakers and ask questions. Engaging was one of the biggest concerns I had when considering attending this virtual conference. I wanted to be able to fully participate and not just listen to speakers disseminating information to me. Due to the technology, there was minimal lag with speakers and audience questions were addressed in a timely manner since there was a dedicated person taking questions for the speakers. This was a good move as I have attended other online conferences where the speaker has had to both field and answer questions and this had not been done very smoothly. The technical organization of this aspect of the Expo made it much more interesting to attend virtually and be better able to engage with the speakers.
Affinity Lunch: Social Media
I was fortunate to be asked to co-host the Social Media Affinity Lunch and speak on social media and how it is best used to engage your audience. This was a great example of sharing knowledge as well as learning from attendees. The information shared was useful to attendees just starting with social media as well as those who were knowledgeable about social media. The combination of different levels of social media experience allowed everyone to participate. For example, one attendee was just venturing into social media and had specific questions on getting started. The open roundtable discussion allowed for several people to share their experiences with different platforms instead of just the two co-hosts. This type of interaction among the group was helpful in enabling everyone to learn.
Given that the entire expo was virtual this year, I was curious as to how the JAG Awards would be presented. The awards presentation turned out to be upbeat and fun. While the awards were being presented in each category, it was nice to have each winner be able to give a short speech in real time. Although we were not physically in the same room, the use of Zoom helped create an awards ceremony that was both lively and fun for everyone involved. The addition of the red carpet event allowed everyone to show a little bit of flair of how they would walk the carpet. The red carpet was entertaining and creative since some took the traditional path of walking the red carpet while others chose to celebrate the red carpet in other ways from their offices. Given the limitations of having a virtual awards show, the JAG Awards turned out great!
The 2021 Eastern Video Expo conference covered many topics this year, more than I have space to cover in this column, but suffice it to say that this year’s expo was a good way to share ideas, learn and network with others in the industry. I learned many things that I will be able to take back to my home station and share with our producers and, in general, help create better programming.
While I look forward to meeting again in person, the virtual aspect of the conference did not deter attendees from being able to learn and, in fact, allowed me to attend more panels since it only involved me Zooming into another room.