IPMA Helping In-plants Connect During Pandemic
The cancellation of the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association conference for the second year in a row is a tough blow for IPMA members, who have long relied on that event as an opportunity to network with fellow managers.
“The face-to-face meetings helped build a support system to last in the time between conferences,” remarks frequent IPMA attendee Ken Johnson, director of Printing Services at Ball State University. Now that the interval between live conferences is being pushed yet another year, he says, “the mental disconnect from our peers is tough to take. It makes you feel isolated and alone.”
IPMA is taking steps to ease that isolation with several upcoming initiatives. The association will soon begin hosting weekly “Shop Talk” sessions via Zoom, says IPMA Executive Director Mike Loyd. In-plant managers will be able to have video discussions on a changing variety of topics, letting them share ideas and solutions to problems much like they would at conference roundtables.
“It’s all about the community and staying together,” says IPMA President Kelly Hogg, director of Printing and Copying Services at the University of Virginia..
In lieu of its canceled conference in June, the association is planning a virtual conference, which will feature 24 sessions over six days, Hogg says.
“We feel it’s very important to have these virtual conferences to give our members an opportunity to still get together and learn and share,” notes Hogg.
IPMA is hoping to offer virtual vendor booths at the conference too, so attendees can view videos of new products and set up 1:1 meetings to get more in-depth information.
“Our virtual conference will be open to any in-plant at no cost,” notes Loyd. And non-members who attend more than three sessions will receive a free one-year membership, he adds.
The virtual conference isn’t the only online education IPMA has planned for 2021, though. It has numerous educational webinars in the works. Last year, Loyd says, IPMA hosted 21 webinars.
“We hope to increase that number by at least 10% this year,” he says.
During the pandemic, members have continued helping each other with problems through the IPMA Community Forum, which allows them to pose questions and seek advice. All members can see the questions and responses, and add their own input if they wish.
Despite the disappointment of having to cancel IPMA’s June conference, Hogg and Loyd are both looking forward to better times ahead. As more of the country gets vaccinated against COVID-19, they are hoping to see other managers in person at fall events like PRINTING United, where IPMA is already planning some in-plant social activities.
“We will have a robust presence at PRINTING United,” Loyd affirms. “We also hope to have a couple of IPMA Road Shows in the fall and winter.”
Related story: IPMA Cancels 2021 Conference