What we’re learning from our community about getting the most out of the conference

I’m often asked, “Why should I attend ONA’s annual conference?” The short answer is easy: you, our community, are changing the face of digital journalism for the better and solving a lot of fascinating challenges along the way. That energy and excitement is contagious, and it’s urgently needed right now.

There’s no better place to find out the latest digital tools and trends from industry leaders, plus build connections and help your peers get to know you or your organization.

If it’s your first year attending the conference (lucky you, you’re in for a treat!), you should know that we’re going all out for our First-Timers’ Orientation. And if you’re still on the fence or need to convince your boss why this is an investment, here are just a few ideas for how ONA can improve your work.

Getting the most out of ONA17

Improve your work: In our post-conference survey (yes, we really read every answer), the top reason people cite for attending our events is to learn. The conference represents an incredible cross-section of best practices and smart problem-solvers that can help you level up your work. Our presenters often share articles and other resources to help you become a digital standout.

Get focused: Learn about upcoming trends and think about the challenges you face, both in your reporting and in your work environment. Our conference can help you set your strategic priorities for the next year.

Get efficient: Find tools and workflow tips that will help you get your work done smarter and more efficiently so you can focus on those big-picture needs. Are you a manager or executive? We’ve got plenty of ideas for improving team structure and developing new partnerships.

Get inspired: Ideas big and small lurk in every conversation at conferences. Some discussions may prompt you to think about an ongoing problem in a new light and others may just give you that next big moonshot idea.

Build your cohort: Find like-minded folks that you can connect with during and after the conference to kick around ideas and problem-solve common issues together. A number of Slack and Facebook groups had their roots in past events!

Get recognized: This is a chance for you and your organization to show everyone — including talented recruits — what contributions you’re making to the industry. Whether you’re presenting, showcasing your work as a finalist for the Online Journalism Awards, or just being an all-star at our many, many networking events, the conference represents the one of the best places in journalism to shine.

Save money: I know, conferences are expensive. But hear me out: We have an incredible amount of terrific sponsors who put a lot of resources — not just money, but also time and talent — into making this event happen. What that means for you is that there’s no more efficient way to collectively achieve all of the above. We’ve got it all, under one roof, distilled into three packed days. There’s bang for your buck here.

And this is just the concrete list of offerings. I’ve also had people tell me they’ve gotten jobs at the conference, met their significant other or explored a city they’d never seen before. While we certainly don’t make any guarantees on those fronts, I can say you’ll be interacting with some of the best and brightest in digital journalism — and the possibilities with this creative bunch are endless.

As ONA's head of programs and events, Trevor connects journalists to emerging tools, technology, training and resources, and leads programming for our annual conference and beyond.