AAN West Attendance Triples

More than 300 registered delegates, exhibitors and speakers converged on the Cathedral Hill Hotel in San Francisco last Friday and Saturday for AAN West 2003, up from just over 100 for a scaled-back 2002 conference..

This year AAN West offered a full slate of programming, ranging from editorial track led by the inimitable David Carr to sessions on fonts from AAN stalwart Katherine Topaz, who came to AAN West fresh from a redesign of the Oklahoma Gazette, and attendance rebounded.

“We were very happy to see a big turnout and to hear that the programming met the members’ needs and inspired them as well,” says Debra Silvestrin, meetings and special projects director. “Our goal is to provide a mix of informative educational seminars, networking opportunities and a little fun in the process.”

The conference opened Friday with a special seminar entitled, “How to Start an Alternative Paper,” offered as a stand-alone session for interested individuals as well as to all registered AAN West delegates.

Presenters such as Fran Beresid-Andrepont, David Fowler, and Tony Roselli received high marks from the attendees she spoke with, Silvestrin says. (Surveys were mailed to participants today.) Fran Beresid-Andrepont and Tony Roselli presented full-day seminars developed especially for newer classified and display reps. David Fowler tailored separate ad design seminars for design and production staff and for ad personnel.

“I have immediately started putting this new information (from Fowler) into practice,” Matt Foote, a classified advertising executive at Pasadena Weekly, says in an e-mail to AAN. “The first thing I did when I came in this morning was to re-design three or four ads that were not producing very well and I was about to lose, or had just lost, the client. I’m meeting with one of them in a few minutes to discuss renewing her with the new ad, and another one who’d been out of the paper since December, loved the idea that I faxed over and I’m working out terms for his next eight-week run.”

Pre1 and Media Audit co-sponsored the opening cocktail party and Verified Audit contributed to the Saturday beverage breaks. They were among 10 exhibitors who displayed their products and services at a trade show in central lobby area of the hotel, where delegates gathered for breaks.

Robby Robbins, Independent Weekly, and Matt Spaur, Local Planet Weekly, top sellers of AAN CAN, the association’s classified advertising network, presented a seminar on “How to Sell into AAN CAN.” Executive Director Richard Karpel also discussed the AAN CAN program, which provides about 70 percent of the association’s budget, at lunch Saturday.

“I can say from here that our department will be much more involved in selling AAN CAN’s as a result of Robby’s inspiration,” Foote says.

Saturday night wrapped up with a “cable car” party hosted by SF Weekly and East Bay Express. Delegates rode around the city, listening to music and enjoying a libation or two.