Un blog de Universitat Politècnica de Valéncia, Campus de Gandia.

This is How We Cook Up a Conference

Here we are again cooking up a storm for the new edition of the Comunica2 University Conference, the fifth edition! While experience helps us anticipate the problems we’ll face, in the end we always get as nervous and excited as the first day. Rebeca Díez y Marga Cabrera

If you want to find out the secret about how we prepareComunica2, the key ingredient is the team. To make some good family Comunica2 dough you will need:

  • 6 Coordinators (Campus staff, students and alumni). They direct the communication tasks, press, facilities, registration/certificates, scientific part, external relations … responsible for several teams, many “labors of love”.
  • 30 Volunteers (students and alumni of Audiovisual Communication, the Master CALSI and the Master in Postproduction). They are easy to recognize during the Conference because they wear a black tee shirt with the logo. They work several hours the week before the Conference and go full-throttle during the two days it lasts. They have many things to do and the truth is that they go crazy running from task to task, including:
    • Community manager. They are responsible for publicizing and communicating everything that goes on in the Conference through different social networks.
    • Writing press releases for each presentation, panel discussion or workshop and sending them to the media. They also handle media interviews, help the Campus press officer and collect all the material that has been published in a press kit.
    • Photographers. They take pictures for the rest of the teams, for the social networks of the Conference or for the press.
    • Each speaker has a sponsor at their service from the moment the arrive at the Conference. They are responsible solving travel questions, schedules, ppts … and whatever else necessary! In the end of the relationship of the sponsors gels over time and the speakers become the sponsor of the students in their future career.
    • Production team. Cameras, editors, filmmakers … the ones behind all the video streaming function and then make sure there’s a videos of each presentation.
  • Contributors (partner companies). Every year we have several companies backing us either economically, with publicity or with logistics. For example we have the backing of Fundeu-BBVA, Betelgeux, Hoyesarte.com, Yorokobu, Rookies, Turistícate, Diez y Diez Comunicación, Masmedios, Ambra … this year we also have the backing of Diapaso.com, an alumni startup who took on the design of the conference and the website.
  • Scientific part. They are in charge of putting together the scientific part of the Conference under the leadership of Natalia Sastre, head of the Campus Gandia Library CRAI; they do the call for papers, receive them, assemble the scientific committee of experts, contact communicators from other universities (researchers who want to present their work), send them for evaluation, prepare the schedule of presentations and manage the conference proceedings. It is a job that doesn’t shine as much as the others, but it’s one of the most important ones.
  • Speakers. Each year we choose the people we think can contribute the most, considering their knowledge about a certain issue and their communication skills. In addition, it’s a plus if they’re nice 🙂 Former Conference speakers are always welcome as guests in new editions. They usually recommend us and speak highly about their experience.
  • Administration. You need methodical people to keep the accounts, pay the expenses and try to contain the budget. They also manage the travel plans of the speakers, from their home to Gandia, including the logistics from Valencia, which is usually the most difficult thing for everyone to coordinate.
  • Meals/Accommodations. They have to negotiate with the hotels and the city council to get the best rooms with the best views on the beach of Gandia. Booking restaurants, bars and everything to help make the speakers and attendees feel comfortable. Although we can’t pay for the accommodation and the meals of our attendees, but we can negotiate friendly prices with different establishments. We want everyone to leave feeling happy.
  • Presenter. Each year we try to have a presenter who introduces the different activities. It is a difficult job because there are always unforeseen circumstances and you have to improvise so that the live slips aren’t obvious.
  • Directors. There are two directors, professors and office companions on the campus of Gandia that are perfectly coordinated and happy to continue on this adventure together.

How do you prepare a new edition?

Comunica2We love the content of the conference, we learn with each edition and it forces us to keep up. Five months before the conference we finalize the contents. Since the end of the last edition, the whole team has been thinking about who we would like to come, what panel discussions or workshops to organize, what to improve from other editions, we look at other conferences, apply for grants or agreements with entities, try to innovate…

From day one the Campus has supported us and helped with everything we needed. Assembling the team of the people who want to sign up, old and new. Like Rebecca says, we hope we don’t have to count with alumni because that means they have a lot of work and are doing well. The team from the university has always been the same: Carles (audiovisual technician), Sandra (press officer) and Luisa (in charge of the CFP), always ready and proactive, a huge asset that the Campus Gandia has for organizing conferences. We also have Pilar Sanchez from the CTT, and Lola Teruel, Professor of Tourism, always willing to communicate and share everything we do, in addition to lending a hand in moments of stress.

Finally, we prepare a budget with estimated expenses and projected income, which we use to set the fees, always trying to help the students on the Campus and other universities and the unemployed.. So far we have always broken even ­ – no gains or losses – but after all, that’s what it’s all about.

We carry on because we have fun preparing the Conference, sometimes we suffer, but other times we laugh, we have fun putting together a team of “collaborators” or “coordinators”, but in the end, we’re all just friends. And as the icing on the cake, remember that there are many hours of work, of people involved, of occasional upsets, but it’s worth it in the end, especially if done with enthusiasm.

Marga Cabrera and Rebeca Díez are professors and researchers at the Campus Gandia of the  UPV

You can follow them on Twitter @MargaTwita @Rebeca10ten



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