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ISST Public Affairs Coordinator Report for the Executive Board: 2016 to 2018 Term

by Travis Atkinson

During the last two years, ISST has experienced rapid and exciting growth in membership. With this expansion, the needs of Public Affairs have been immense. From my prior two years of service, I continued to create and develop media to promote ISST as an organization, to share information with members, and to facilitate communication channels for members to connect with each other.

The highlights of public affairs duties include the success of the 2017 Barcelona Summer School, and INSPIRE 2018 in Amsterdam. I developed and implemented an extensive registration system that saved ISST tens of thousands of euros, along with providing multiple incentives of tiers to encourage early registration that ISST was not able to offer before. Combined with efforts by EB members and conference committees, this led to Barcelona being sold out, and Amsterdam 51 participants shy of a capacity of 1200 (compared to a little over 600 participants at the prior INSPIRE conference in Vienna). In addition, I designed and created the name tags for both conferences that included QR codes to help register participants for selections. I worked closely with Jordi Cid, the local organizer in Barcelona, to facilitate the conference. For Amsterdam, I enjoyed a close working relationship from the beginning with the Vice President, Remco van der Wijngaart and the Treasurer, Eckhard Roediger, along with the conference committee as we worked on multiple aspects needed for the success of the conference. I also directed efforts to digitally record and edit videos of keynote speakers and some of the most popular selections in Amsterdam, and will be posting the videos of speakers who grant permission over the coming months.

The Schema Events App, which I created and designed for INSPIRE 2016 in Vienna, became the main media source for Barcelona and Amsterdam for participants. Each year, as technology has improved, several improvements have been possible through the app platform. We now have a secure source on iOS, Android, and an entirely new progressive web app that functions well through any browser on all devices. The Schema Events App allowed participants to message each other, select their own agenda, view slides from presenters who submitted them, locate top-rated restaurants and tourist locations with seamless Apple Maps and Google Maps integration, and communicate with fellow participants within each selection, among other features. As more advances become available, I anticipate integrating them into the app for future conferences. 

For 2019, I created a new “brand” for the Summer School conferences called ENLIGHT, and am working with the organizing committee, including Chris Hayes, ISST’s Secretary and Susan Simpson, the local organizing member, to plan, organize and promote events. I anticipate the Schema Events App will be updated and refreshed to help participants in Edinburgh even more, with new QR technologies allowing for seamless checking in and out of selections. The website will continue to make our own registration process possible, allowing for flexible enrollments to encourage full capacity in Edinburgh.

The expansion of the ISST website continued, where I designed and posted the “sites” for Barcelona and Amsterdam. I posted schema therapy events from members around the world from Training Directors who submitted them. With more than 1,200 actively enrolled members on the website, I continued to add members through the double opt-in process. With the growth of ISST, I worked over the last few months to shift the duty of enrolling members on the website to the ISST Office. I have continued to monitor and work on improving search engine optimization (SEO) for the website, making it more likely that search engines will find and share our information to promote ISST and schema therapy. This includes using multiple tools to repair problems as needed. Over the last few months, I have also worked more closely with David Edwards, the ISST President, as he has provided input to some of the site's structure and content.

The ISST listserv has grown to over 1,000 members, and I have continued to add new members, make changes to personal information, and monitor postings. This media has provided members with an easy way to communicate with each other, sharing tips, observations, challenges, and schema therapy events.

I have created multiple email blasts to share news and information with members over the past two years. The designs I have developed work to attract attention from members and to encourage actions. A significant aspect has been achieving GDPR compliance, which have been accomplished through our email lists and on the ISST website, along with the help of our Treasurer, Eckhard Roediger. Social media posts have continued on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. 

Moving forward, I anticipate further improvements and enhancements of technology for our media platforms. In a rapidly changing world, we have also proposed that the public affairs coordinator position be renamed to media coordinator, a title more in-sync with today’s environment and duties. 

The opportunity has never been better to connect with schema therapists throughout the world in our Schema Therapy Society. 


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