Convention Events and Programming => Elections => Elections Archives => Topic started by: kjayers on September 05, 2014, 11:26:07 am

Title: Candidate Q&A - 2015 Director of Relations
Post by: kjayers on September 05, 2014, 11:26:07 am
This thread is for questions and answers for the candidates for the 2015 Director of Relations.

Please remember the following when participating in the Q&A threads. The normal forum code of conduct (https://www.kumoricon.org/forums/index.php?topic=11025.0) applies, except:

There is a partial exemption to the rule that forum discussion cannot be about a person. You may incorporate personal comments, including praise or criticism, into your election questions and answers, and ensuing discussion, but only regarding candidates who are running for a position, or about another person if it is directly entangled with an issue germane to the outcome of the election. In so doing, you must still exercise standard courtesy, and refrain from profanity, disruption of the discussion, excessive vitriol, and irrelevant comments. Please keep in mind that there will be an opportunity for spoken comments at the elections meeting.
Title: Re: Candidate Q&A - 2015 Director of Relations
Post by: kjayers on September 12, 2014, 09:30:03 am
I really don't want to sound like a broken record and post this in every Q&A thread, so I'll just post this here once.  ;D

I would really appreciate it if all candidates for a position posted a resume for the given position and maybe a more general introductory statement about themselves and the position they're running for. Hopefully this will also help others make an educated decision on the best candidate for a position.

I'm starting to wonder if candidates didn't see the question because it's not in their respective threads.  So I'll be the broken record.
Title: Re: Candidate Q&A - 2015 Director of Relations
Post by: BellDue on September 13, 2014, 11:49:35 pm

Some of these questions are oldies, but they should be asked anyway:

What do you see the role(s) of the Director of Relations as being, and what do you believe you bring to the table in this regard?

As the Director of Relations, what changes (if any) would you like to institute?

Tell us about a time about a great success you have had working in this department, or in the one you currently staff for.

Tell us about a time where you did not do as well as you had hoped with something regarding your department, or the one you currently staff for. How do you think you could have handled it better?

What are your plans for promoting and increasing interest in the Charity Auction?

What's your strategy for increasing Industry interest for Kumoricon?

If you had no resistance or restrictions, what is something you would like to do with Relations?

What is your definition of a successful Relations directorate?

What improvements would you make to the dealers/artist halls?
Title: Re: Candidate Q&A - 2015 Director of Relations
Post by: AllyKat on September 14, 2014, 03:07:42 pm

My Name is Ally Fields (May appear as Allyson Fields)
I am going to answer ALL Questions asked of me in this singular thread, so there is one set of answers to every question, and you don't have to go scrolling through conversation to get the answers you want. So look back here for updates!

Something to note: Relations is not an island. Just because I say "I want to do X" doesn't mean that, when I get into the Executive Meeting of Doom (Sometimes referred to as the exec retreat where they lock us in a building and don't let us out till we have a budget and a plan for the year) that these things wont change to better fit the convention vision of the entire board. I just want to make that clear that, until I am sitting down with the people these decisions affect... they are just best guesses!

1. Resume
Rather than copy and pasting my resume into the forum (which is not going to be a professional method no matter how I do it,) and rather than prose it out, I hope you don't mind if I link you to my LinkedIn Profile. I am pretty proud of it, and it has my entire resume formatted neatly for perusal by those looking to hire me. Please click here (https://www.linkedin.com/in/allyrfields) to see it.

Some things to note; I have been in three different directorates at this convention, all of which have worked with the Relations Department in many ways, some more intensive than others. Examples include Facilities Liaison coordinating with PEDCO on Exhbitors layout, Publicity Director working with publishing team to ensure proper promotion of Guest(s) of Honor and Vice Chair assisting in the representation of the convention at events like Sakura-Con as well as providing support to Liaisons at the convention.

One thing I'd like to add to my convention Resume that does not have a place on LinkedIn or my regular resume is my attendance in 2013 to the Summit on Anime in North America (SANA (http://animesummit.org/)). I was an invited guest in the discussion that took place to present the Japanese Government with an in depth discussion on why Anime is so popular in the USA/Canada and how we can continue that growth through positive communications between our countries. It was informative, educational, and more importantly it was a great way for our Northwest community to connect with our fellows across the country. So much comes from connecting with other members of this industry, new opportunities for guests, sponsorship and events as well as idea growth and trading. Attendance at that meeting is something I am very proud to bring to Kumoricon as an example of my commitment to the genre and industry we work in.

2. What do you see the role(s) of the Director of Relations as being, and what do you believe you bring to the table in this regard?
Lets break it down to the main areas that Director of Relations handles:

Guests - My connections in the industry and my positive relationship with people whom have dealt with these negotiations in the past are really my greatest assets to Relations. I mean, the root word of Relationship is Relations! That is what I do. I create relationships, lasting ones that provide our community with the new and interesting guests and content we thrive on.

Industry - Similar to my ability to make relationships with the people whom can give us access to guests, I am equally connected and concerned with Industry relations. I bring a veracity and ferocious devotion to the task of getting more industry, more sponsorship, more representation to our convention. We are big enough to bring in the big names, and big enough to get real content from them.

Exhibitors - Our convention has had a long standing difficult with where to put/how to handle Exhibitors in the space where we currently reside. The conversation has gone through managers and coordinators to our Directors and back to the Exhibitors themselves. What I personally want to bring to the conversation is a discussion of the options and the pros and cons to the long time Exhibitors that have stuck by us through thick and thin, and get them the most opportune space in the safest and most cost effective way possible. That might involve some creative methods of housing Exhibitors and Artists, but with my knowledge of the space as the person in charge of the Venue for the past two years (and working side by side with Operations on PEDCO, the company that we have worked with to provide our Exhibit Booths) I provide a uniquely knowledgeable perspective of the space and needs of Exhibitors. 

Artists - To be honest, I know very little of the difference between Artists and Exhibitors. To me, the two deserve the same respect and attention to detail that I will bring to Exhibitors. But what I plan to give the Artists (and Exhibitors alike) is a good team that cares about them and is dedicated to their flourishing and growth. I know from the times I checked in on Artists this year, infrastructure was lacking in their location. We need to fix how we provide tech to these booths and what I bring to the table is knowledge of the infrastructure.

Art Show/Charity Auction - I am going to focus on the Charity Auction here, though I will mention that, I want to bring new advertising, promotion and energy to the Art Show (which is basically my catchphrase; "Promote it! Tell people about it! Spread the word!") so that it gets more draw, and more revenue. But let me spend some time on the Charity Auction.

Our Charity Auction is one of the lowest priority items that any Director thinks of. It is an unfortunate side effect of the anemic state of our managing staff. While some areas have good staff, they are over worked. Other areas have a completely new staff, and aren't ready to take on intense projects like what we need (did you know over 40% of this year's staff was BRAND NEW?! So cool!). That means that, things that don't directly affect the operation of the con (will we have guests? is Exhibitors full and operational? did we get viewing permissions for our viewing rooms?)  get set to the last minute. With Charity Auction, if you don't promote it early, if we don't get the word out their to people... no one is going to have saved up any money to donate to charity. So we need to get on that early. The Charity Auction is something I can bring a lot more energy to. I trust my Guest and Industry team, And the Exhibitors and Artists are year round as well, so everything should work in tandem to provide the best and more lucrative Charity Auction for the Sunshine Division we have ever done!

3. As the Director of Relations, what changes (if any) would you like to institute?
This may end up being slightly redundant, so, feel free to bounce back to the answer to #2. But, I'd like to increase our Charity Auction drive. We spend a great deal of our time on our amazing Guests and Exhibitors, and I think those teams can be built of to be self sustaining enough to let the Director of Relations build up an infrastructure that supports the Charity Auction. You know, Kathryn Marvin once made a beautiful quilt... really freaking great thing with that year's mascot all 8-bit. It was sweet. That thing should have been on every social media outlet, as it was being created, and advertising just the sort of awesome stuff that would be at our Charity Auction. But, we didn't have the infrastructure, and we didn't have the donations, so really incredible pieces like that went for next to nothing (I was REALLY disappointed, but happy for the person who got it) and our donation to Sunshine was lacking. I realize this isn't a glamorous part of what the Director of Relations does, but it is something I care about, and that is my main change.
Other changes would be, building up our Sponsorship deal program so when people like Dark Horse, or OniPress or Funimation or Aniplex or Joe's Crab Shack wanna advertise with us or we want to do something with them, we have a codified professional plan for how that will work.

Also, getting Funimation and Aniplex and other industry to our convention.

Basically, I want more of everything! Guess I am just a bit ambitious!

4. Tell us about a time about a great success you have had working in this department, or in the one you currently staff for.
Technically I have never worked in Relations, though I have tried to work very close with the, Relations is a department very close to my heart.

I am going to use a success that is also a challenge/failure, because it illustrates a good point about how ambitions (of which I have many) can be a great learning experience.

In the Vice Chair department, I am in charge of Facilities responsibilities, but this year I helped to pass an initiative that expanded our assistance of our Managers and Coordinators at con. We had been case by case providing rooms to these hard working individuals, and rather than cherry pick at the end of the con, the initiative was to provide as many as possible with a room at the con, for the whole con. Unfortunately we are not a money making factory, and if you can imagine, each room night is about $150/USD... that multiplied by 4 nights is $600! And some staff needed to be there 5 or 6 nights! So, I came up with the brilliant plan to encourage Cooridnators and higher to apply for the program, and room them with like-minded Coordinators/Managers. That way we were spending on average  $150-225 on each coordinator, instead of $600, and instead of them just getting one night covered and having to pay the rest, they were guaranteed a room for the whole convention! That was really important to me, most of these people would need to be on site 24/7 and wouldn't be sleeping much, it seemed like the least we could do for people who spend tons of time pre-con and at con and post con making sure we have a great event!

Long story short, of the ~151 Coordinator and above positions at the convention, we had roughly 76 of them in hotel rooms that the convention covered entirely. A few outliers who had family requirements or extenuating circumstances had one night covered on a room they paid the rest of and the rest either were positions that remained unfilled at the time of the convention of found space elsewhere. That's a pretty good percentage of people we were able to help with this initiative! I consider that a success that shows my dedication to the staff, making sure they get what they need to put on a great event. Was it a perfect success? Heck no! There were all kinds of problems with fitting people into rooms, roommates not being good for other people, confirmation numbers changing, reservations showing up under the wrong name, it was a mess that didn't get solved until nearly the day before con! I regret that, but I can't be too upset because it was something we'd never done, and while it was difficult and confusing and stressful, what the staff got out of it is something really valuable to this organization.

5a. Tell us about a time where you did not do as well as you had hoped with something regarding your department, or the one you currently staff for.

Oh man, the SHUTTLE. Can I just say, the SHUTTLE and have you all understand? I think so. That thing was a beast that I had no clue how to wrangle, and I didn't realize all of the logistics involved. Sometimes, we say "just throw money at the problem and it will go away." Which is a really curt way of saying, if we don't know how to do it ourselves, we need to hire someone who does know what they are doing and get the best service for our attendees. I'll be honest, the shuttle system we were using through each of the hotels was confusing, on demand and problematic for late night runs. I needed a better more consistent solution, so I opted to hire a company who does that sort of think. I thought "They know what a shuttle is! It'll be just like when I go to SDCC, they have a shuttle and it runs pretty good!"

There are so many things wrong with my train of thought, and understanding them now makes it a lot clearer where I went wrong. Firstly, I NEVER assume that the hotels, even ones we have been at for YEARS know how our event works. Why would I assume that this company understands my needs for this shuttle, when I don't even understand it? That was a big mistake, just giving them the shuttle route and a check and saying "See you on day 1" was negligent. All the things that could go wrong DID go wrong, and since we had no real communication, since I assumed that the organization knew what I needed inherently, the shuttle became an inconsistent mess. Secondly, I assumed bigger is better. It isn't. When the most economic price was on the bigger bus, I didn't ask the smart questions like "is it ADA?" "Can it fit in the parking lot of each hotel?" These were serious questions I didn't think of, because in my head a bus is much like a trimet bus, and they are almost ALL ADA and the concept of a bus not fitting in a hotel parking lot didn't even occur to me. Having never run a shuttle before, I figured more space was better. The truth is, it wasn't, it was unnecessarily large, making the runs slower and making the feasibility of getting into different locations impossible. Thirdly, I didn't have a strong point of contact. With the ATMs, a 1-800 number and an e-mail is sufficient, because when they are out of money, putting more in is kind of a passive thing, but when the shuttles aren't getting to stops regularly, when there are immediate issues, having communications with the Driver is key. I didn't have that, it sucked.

5b. How do you think you could have handled it better?

I would give the shuttle a lot more attention if I had it all to do again. I would post the approximate schedule a week before the convention, I would start it on day zero, I would do a test run to time it all out, I would have a contact and the names of the drivers. I would have a TON of signage. I would promote this much earlier. It would be a much more comprehensive program. Immediately after the convention I spoke with the company we worked with (Ecoshuttle) about how to do this better. It's going to cost a lot more, and that is a decision the future person in charge of this task will need to discuss with the entire board, but it is possible to make it work like it should.

6. What are your plans for promoting and increasing interest in the Charity Auction?
Oh. Hey, this is a separate question! Well... see my answers to 2 & 3 and then come back here.

I want social media announcements. I want to work with local companies, bands, community groups and industry groups to provide real prize support. I used to do this for a club I was in in high school and college. I will send tactical requests for specific prizes in exchange for promotions and advertising (See Sponsorship Deals). I want signed items from our guests, our panelists, items from our Exhibitors, our Artists as well as contributed items for attendees and staff. And then, I want to announce these Items as we get them and remind people of their awesomeness. I want to make Badge #1 cool again. But most importantly I want every attendee to know that the charity auction is gonna have some amazing stuff, and remind them to save up so they can get cool things while supporting the Sunshine Division!

7. What's your strategy for increasing Industry interest for Kumoricon?

Is it weird to say, working with my friends in the Industry to get them back to Kumo? This was the first year in a while that Funi wasn't at the convention, and there were a lot of reasons for that. But there are other companies out there too, we could have Viz, we could have Aniplex, we could have Capcom, SquareEnix... the possibilities are endless! Representation builds our convention. The Industry loves to see events like ours that thrive on fan run content and a fan run vision, and they love to help us keep that thriving. We don't need to be an "Industry con" to have Industry - what we need to have is a strong desire, and a lucrative business model for what we can bring to those members of our community that do come to our event. I can say my strategy is opening that line of communication with honest, professional, almost surgical initiative and discussion on what we can provide and they can provide us.

8. If you had no resistance or restrictions, what is something you would like to do with Relations?

No restrictions? NO restrictions? Probably bring the CLAMP ladies to Kumoricon. Maybe use the park as our own personal combination Exhibitors hall and concert venue with a Japanese/K-Pop band playing in between sets of DJ music. It's be like our own Saturday Market of Anime meets music festival in the park! That sounds like a cool thing to do with Relations.

9. What is your definition of a successful Relations directorate?

A directorate is successful when your Raves outweigh your Rants, or when no one notices you. Honestly, that's the truth. When we do a good job, no one notices we are there. They are excited for the guests and industry panels, they get good gear from the exhibitors and artists and the charity auction runs without a hitch! You rarely hear from attendees, "Wow! You really got those guests to their panels on time well! Thanks!" or "Man, your ability to negotiate flight details and contracts was AWESOME this year!" But those are the success points I gauge. Those things are the building blocks of the directorate, they aren't glamorous and they aren't public facing, but they get the public facing stuff done.

More importantly a successful Relations Directorate has a strong team of dedicated staff that can do the job without their Director micro-managing. We look professional when I can hand off tasks and jurisdiction to my staff confidently, and when those team members can make on the fly decisions that I back 100%. It makes us formidable, and we have come to be known as a very fun and welcoming convention to our guests, keeping up that professional and friendly atmosphere is due entirely to the amazing staff that make us successful.

10. What improvements would you make to the dealers/artist halls?

This is difficult. Our Exhibitors and Artists need a home, a permanent one. They probably aren't going to get one this year, but they still deserve a good space, and they deserve that space to make sense for them infrastructure wise. Wi-fi in the garage, not going to happen, not easily. So we need to come up with a better system. I'd also approve and confirm Exhibitors a lot sooner, get the information to PEDCO sooner, and have the layout planned sooner, by working with the staff in charge of that area actively throughout the year.
Title: Re: Candidate Q&A - 2015 Director of Relations
Post by: kjayers on September 18, 2014, 04:40:47 pm
For the benefit of people who don't frequent the forums, I would super appreciate if folks would put their name as it will appear on the ballot in their introductory post (even if it seems obvious).  Thanks!