A long-running bilingual conference programme like no other.

CERIC is a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians. Each year, CERIC puts on CANNEXUS – a conference that provides delegates with robust programming and relevant professional development opportunities.

Project Overview

Cannexus is the gold standard of conferences for Canada’s career development community. Over 250 presenters in two languages at a 365,000 square foot facility in the heart of downtown Ottawa. Orientation and communication are two of the primary directives in the production of a bilingual conference programme.

Business Objectives

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Editions
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Pages Published
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Delegate Satisfaction

Our Approach

We had worked with the client (CERIC) on building engagement in the form of a long-running quarterly publication, and thus were familiar with a segment of their target audience. So Communicreations was chosen to develop promotional materials and signage, but the centrepiece was to be a first-in-class conference programme. One that informs and facilitates visiting delegates effortlessly through their multi-day conference experience, while organizers reap the benefits of advertising streams to offset production costs. 

One of our initial observations was that the perceived nine month sales cycle was actually at least twice that. Delegates in attendance were more likely to return with frequency if we focused on them in the current year. A detailed and well organized conference programme became central to each event — a lasting resource that made it memorable. The programme blossomed into a wonderful brand ambassador. 

None of this happened overnight, of course. But it did come together quickly because it only took a couple of years of competing against larger, entrenched competition with financial backing from the government before taking the lead. It was awesome, and we really love being part of awesome!

Communicreations has been a valued marketing partner for our annual conference. They've provided strategic guidance in developing everything from sponsorship material to signage and a substantial conference programme. Throughout, they have shown skillful design as well as attention to detail and deadline. Michael's flexibility, responsiveness and sense of humour also make him a pleasure to work with.
Sharon Ferriss
Senior Director, Marketing & Communications

Obstacles and Objectives

Over the 14-year run of the conference programme, each edition has come with plenty of production challenges. Here are some of those:

 

Challenges Solutions Results
Production. Limited production window necessitates the need for late revisions. Post-project follow-up meeting used to identify areas of improvement and establish new benchmarks. Reduced development time by 60 hours over two years; similar gains client-side.
Content. Managing content from over 100 contributors in two languages. A Content Style Guide would benefit consistency and eliminate rehashing the same stylistic questions. Removing the emphasis on revision stages by addressing the matter in the pre-production phase saved both money and time. Word count limits improved user experience while reducing the number of pages.
Editorial Revisions. Late-term delivery of content assets allow the client to be nimble with an evolving event, but present time-sensitive production challenges. Stricter project management in the initial stages. Clearly defined roles and accountability to staff. Gains were made in the form of reduced revisioning in the later stages, freeing up time for competing priorities and sanity maintenance.
Accuracy. An evolving event comes with its fair share of revisions. Provide a preformatted spreadsheet for the client that can be imported directly into the latest version of the working publication. Eliminates a manual entry process on the production side and empowers editorial oversight client side.
Environmental. We’re always looking for ways to reduce the footprint on every job. Even small changes can net big gains on jobs of this magnitude. We moved from tête-bêche (inverted publication separating two languages) to smaller runs of unilingual editions. A 50% reduction in the number of printed pages.

Results

Despite facing entrenched competition, it didn’t take long for Cannexus to emerge as the “must attend” event on the career counselling calendar. The Cannexus brand quickly became recognized as an authority in the field, and has contributed greatly to the organization as a whole. The event boasts an impressive return rate of greater than 60%. The conference programme itself has consistently been a centrepiece to informing and coordinating delegates, receiving a 96% overall satisfaction rating on the conference feedback survey.


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