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Oct 19, 2011

Word of Mouth and Website Publicity

The IEEE Signal Processing Society sponsors or co-sponsors over 20 conferences each year. They provide networking and educational needs for more than 4,000 scientists around the world. Our conferences have a reputation for excellence that keeps attendees coming back year after year.

How can we make sure that SPS conferences continue to grow in size and impact while maintaining the quality? Effective Publicity.

From a publicity stand-point, SPS conferences have two principal attractions: high-quality technical programs and excellent networking opportunities. These attractions work together to make a conference an experience that people talk about for years. This word of mouth is our most successful publicity device.

The second most successful marketing device we have is the conference’s website. Word of mouth and the websites, more than any other promotional devices, are what conference attendees use to learn about your conference: not e-mails, not flyers, and not print advertisements.

Word-of-mouth is an unreliable form of marketing, one cannot control what people say. They may send the wrong message or a negative message. An official website allows a costumer to find the event without navigating a maze of potential misinformation and opinion. Sometimes they provide inaccurate information; occasionally, there are unsupported comments that can be negative.

The website is the most useful, and in some cases the only, device for marketing a conference that you can directly influence. On a website you can control the message; make certain that everyone gets the same information; and keep the information current. Thus, this is an area where, we must become more innovative and savvy.

Our conferences, including ICASSP and ICIP, have an identity challenge on the web. There are new URLs for each conference and the URLs do not have a consistent naming format. The websites often do not direct visitors to past and future conferences, and they look and function dramatically differently from year to year. The identity, or brand, is unpredictable diminishing both the value of the website as a publicity device and the perceived value of the conference.

Starting in 2013 SPS there will be an enduring URL for ICASSPs: www.ieeeicassp.org and also with ICIPs: www.ieeeicip.org. The web sites are supported by the SPS Conference Services Department. Stable websites will build and standardize the ICASSP and ICIP brands.

The new sites load quickly and work well with the lowest-common-denominator browser and operating system. They are easy to navigate. The visitor will be able to find what he/she wants in 3 clicks or less. The text is clean and easy-to-read; there is good color balance; and the graphics are of good-quality. The sites provide information clearly, concisely, and coherently; are sophisticated; and employ up-to-date website best practices and design technologies.

The common content such as conference history, future locations, procedures for submitting bids, etc., will be maintained by the SPS Conference Services staff. Past conference information will be represented with summary and post-conference materials such as photographs and letters, information about the proceedings, and more.

The website content for active conferences will be provided by the organizing committee or its designee (i.e. professional conference organizer) with support from the Conference Services Department. The content will be updated as needed by the SPS staff. Look for the ICASSP and ICIP website guidelines coming soon to the conference resources page at www.signalprocessingsociety.org.