PSPA Conference speaker: Maybe I'm in over my head

A portion of the PSPA conference guide.

Today I’m in State College, Pa. perhaps making a fool of myself at the 76th annual Pennsylvania School Press Association conference.

I was thrilled when someone asked me in December if I’d like to speak to high school kids about multimedia storytelling and online publications. (Apparently people do read this thing!) I thought it even neater when I was e-mailed a draft of the conference guide.

Then I saw just below the first-page biography of keynote speaker Tim Harrower, an author and newspaper designer, two speaker highlights. The first is of Steve Manuel, a Penn State professor, former Department of Defense spokesman and, um, apparently a buddy of comedian Dane Cook.

The second name? Well, it was this young freelancer. I’m humbled and excited. See what I’ll be covering after the jump. If you’re there, well, gosh, let’s do lunch.

The conference actually began yesterday but because of some prior engagements, I couldn’t make it. I was genuinely disheartened to miss yesterday’s writing contest, for which I was to be tapped as a judge. Instead today, in addition to two lectures,  I think I will also be helping judge student publications, I’m told, beginning at nine a.m.

At both lectures, I will be unveiling what I hope to make a bit of a resource point for high school newspapers: I’d like to talk to any of those interested in creating an extended method for crowd sourcing methods and means for doing just that, improving student newspapers. The development, I think, will largely come after this conference, though.

But, first, you know, the lectures.

From 10 to 11 a.m., I will be leading “Eleven Ways to Improve Your Student Publication Today.” I always think the best value of a conference like this, particularly for high school kids (I remember being bored out of my mind at these), is immediate take-away. I’ve collected some awfully simple, but delightfully practical items a student newspaper or magazine might implement right away and improve the product. I’m focusing on online promotion and dissemination, multimedia organization and Web presence.

Then from 11 a.m. until noon, I’m hosting “An Online Media Empire in a Day.” Now if that doesn’t sound like me, I don’t know what does. Narrowing in on a couple of my suggestions from my first session, I am planning on detailing how to create a fully-functional, self-sustaining student publication with the two most important aspects of all: easy upkeep and next-to-nothing costs. I’ve led high school newspapers and almost a decade ago I was in a number of school groups. I remember how it rolls.

So that’s what I feel like I am bringing — solid professional experience that pales in comparison with other speakers, but a recent and genuine sense of what works for student publications.

I’ll be sure to post my reflections on the conference once I return.

If you’d like me to speak or work with your school group or media conference, contact me here. See my other speaking work here.

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