by Esther Faith Lew | January 16, 2018
Deborah Sexton, outgoing president and CEO, PCMA.
Amplifying engagement is this year's bugle call to delegates at PCMA Convening Leaders Forum 2018. Held in Nashville, Tennessee from Jan 7 to 10 at the Music City Centre, the event hit the high notes in more ways than one; a befitting achievement this year in "the music city" that is the mecca for musicians of all genres.

A record attendance of about 4,500 delegates were present, which included a digital audience that caught the live streams of sessions. PCMA's digital strategy has been hugely successful in creating a following of online audience.

More than 7,000 business event strategies are members, with more than half attending the forum this year. However, outgoing CEO Deborah Sexton, who has led the charge for the past 12 years, stressed that the success of PCMA is not based on its numbers, but rather on the quality of its people and face-to-face interactions.

Sexton also stressed the need to build up its audience in tandem with members. She said that PCMA's audience may not be members but they are also crucial in perpetuating the brand value of the organisation.

"They may not be joining but they are most certainly engaging, and the growth of this audience will be phenomenal. As we focus on global presence and expansion, our membership model must change, and we believe this is the way to go for the future," says Sexton.

Sherrif Karamat, incoming CEO, PCMA.
Incoming CEO Sherrif Karamat validated this strategy and its effectiveness, "Our forum in San Diego in 2012 saw an attendance growth of about 10 percent, and almost 90 percent of attendees came because they saw us on virtual space the previous year in Las Vegas. This speaks of the power of the medium. You have to capture the analytics in order to understand its impact on event attendance."

Revenue-wise, PCMA has a new record increment this year, bringing it to US$19 million from US$6 million in 2006. Partnership activity contributed US$6.5 million last year. Revenue streams and brands now include Convening Leaders, ICESAP, the Digital Experience Institute and Convene magazine.

Supporting this growth is the PCA Education Foundation, which also announced a record US$1.83 million raised in funds last year, with US$493,000 awarded in scholarships and grants during the same year.