Wednesday, 10 October 2012

PWAC Prairies Regional Fall Conference Event - A Great Success!

Thank you to all the participants, speakers, sponsors and volunteers for making the first PWAC Regional Event such a great success!
On Sept 22, 2012 over thirty people met in Saskatoon for a great day of professional development at the PWAC Prairies Fall Conference, hosted by the PWAC Saskatchewan Chapter. Attendees and speakers came from all PWAC Prairie Chapters, including Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as industry, sponsors and the public. The day started off with a welcome message from the day’s emcee, Saskatchewan President Kelly-Anne Riess, followed by an opening message from Carla Bechard of Saskatchewan Tourism, who helped sponsor the event.
The first session offered was by PWAC Regina member Marie Powell on Breaking In: Taking Stock of the Marketplace, which encouraged writers to hone their non-fiction specialties, negotiate their rates and make their vision pay.
After an energized first coffee break the morning continued with another full session by online specialist Katrina German. Her session, How to be a Paid Social Media Strategist, enforced the importance of gathering a network of people around your freelance writing business, becoming an expert in what you are interested in and thriving as key components of the business of content management.
The catered lunch arrived right on time and the venue was noisy in all the sharing. The afternoon started on a high note and delivered a great second half. PWAC VP Doreen Pendgracs offered up an informative and humorous full two-hour session on Your Next Travel Story Might be Right in Your Own Back Yard. Her session reminded writers that it is not about the typical ‘ … if you travel to …’ stories, but rather, the quirky off the beaten path stories that editors want, as well as new markets for travel such as edu-tainment. She also reminded everyone how valuable professional associations such as PWAC and TMAC are to writing careers.
After the last coffee break of the day Kelly-Anne Riess moderated a PWAC-member panel discussion on Niche Writing: Your Ticket to Success. Kicking off the panel was Saskatoon PWAC member James Romanow, known as Dr. Booze, who spoke on his success as a wine expert and branding himself though positive experiences with trade journal opportunities for writers offering many niche publications. Next on the panel was PWAC Manitoba Chapter member RoseAnna Schick. She passionately explained how she used her love of golf and her curiosity to try different sports to launch her freelance success into columns and regular freelance by becoming an expert in her topic - even if she was not an expert at the sport. Next was Michelle Greysen from the newly formed southern Alberta PWAC Lethbridge Chapter. She shifted the room’s perspective away from the traditional view of typically smaller niche publications, showing instead how a writer can create a place for their story, not just in a niche magazine, but also in a mainstream large product. By using a few publisher insight tools to analyze the product cover-to-cover and by positioning a unique story that suits both the product and the targeted readership, one can produce polished queries that land assignments. Closing out the panel was PWAC Saskatchewan member Darrell Noakes with an informative view on using photography to create a freelance niche. Many questions from the audience to the panel added to the day ending on a high note.
After many door prizes of books and the grand prize of a PWAC-sponsored draw of a one-year membership to a qualifying non-PWAC member in the room, the day came to a close. Feedback was positive and participants left with many new contacts, not only among PWAC members from all five Prairie Chapters in attendance, but also with great connections to attendees from industry, tourism and the public.
The event proved to be a great success with many thanks to the sponsors PWAC/,TOURISM Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Writers Guild (SWG), Saskatoon Writers COOP and SPHERU. And special thanks to the PWAC Saskatchewan Chapter for hosting the event and to the organizing committee who helped to make the day spectacular: Saskatchewan Chapter members Marie Powell, Kelly-Anne Riess, Mike Chouniard, Calgary Chapter member Carey Rutherford and the Prairies and the North Regional Director/Lethbridge Chapter member Michelle Greysen.
The event brought a great spotlight to PWAC, not only across the Prairies, but also across the country, as the day’s sessions were live tweeted on the #PWAC hash tag and many participant blogs and tweets continue to offer further information from the day. 

We look forward to repeating this event each fall in our Region, or across the country - if your Chapter is interested in hosting please contact The Prairies and the North Regional Director, Michelle Greysen to help make it happen!

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