Username Post: Staff Panelists        (Topic#3034)
NyanCon 
Attendee
Posts: 11

Loc: Kirtland Ohio
Reg: 09-19-13

11-27-13 02:19 AM - Post#13112    

I'm wondering if other convention heads have tried using staff as panelists or recruited known veteran panelists to present content. I ask because a convention is under fire for selecting 3 staff panelists because it takes away valuable space from fan panelists.

- How did it go?
- How were they received after the convention?
- Did you let the panelists do their own thing or did programming have a hand in the content/presentation?
- Would you recommend doing it again or other advice?

And for those who haven't tried it or participated on either side, what are your thoughts on the idea?

 
Nigoki 
Obsessed with robots
Posts: 1468
Nigoki
Reg: 02-25-09

11-27-13 09:47 AM - Post#13113    
    In response to NyanCon

I have a pretty busy job for Anime Boston, but I still do 2 panels every year, one on Friday, one on Saturday.

Here are some items that I can share.

-I still have to submit applications for the panels I want to do like every other attendee. My staff status does not factor into my approval. I cannot emphasize this point enough. I've never come under fire for getting a panel slot, but if I did, I would emphasize that point.

-I do mention I am on staff when I present, but it's more of an afterthought. I state other credentials first, my staff position isn't really part of them, it's more "oh and I'm the Facilities Manager here"

-I also tend to have fellow panelists with me who are not on staff, so that tends to balance things out.

-As a staffer, I talk with the person I work under well in advance to make sure I have the ok to take time (about 90 minutes each day) for the panel and that we have support plans in place, such as people who can handle my duties while I am away, but also noting that if it is a matter that absolutely needs my attention, a few key people know where they can find me. Having a safety net to make sure work doesn't fall through the cracks while a staff member is doing a panel is super important, no matter their position.
-Doug Wilder
Resident Mecha fanboy of AnimeCons TV!


 
Daniel DAmours 
Attendee
Posts: 26

Loc: Thunder Bay
Reg: 04-11-08

11-27-13 10:10 AM - Post#13114    
    In response to NyanCon

Just because someone is a staff member does not mean that they can not also enjoy the benefits of being an attendee while they are off duty. As long as they have to submit their panel and are not given preferential treatment, I don't really see a problem. I know that some conventions wouldn't be able to fill up their entire schedules if it wasn't for staff stepping in to run something.
Lakehead Anime Society Director, & Chairman of Kita-Kon
kita-kon.org


Edited by Daniel DAmours on 11-27-13 10:10 AM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
Posts: 5079
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

11-27-13 01:46 PM - Post#13115    
    In response to NyanCon

  • NyanCon Said:
I ask because a convention is under fire for selecting 3 staff panelists because it takes away valuable space from fan panelists.


That's completely ridiculous! If anything, staff members might end up researching and presenting better panels because they have a dog in the fight and care about the outcome...while you never know with a fan panelist if they're going to take it seriously (which, thankfully, most do) or if they'll show up unprepared (which seems to happen at least a couple times per con).

Sounds to me like someone's jealous that their panel didn't get selected and some staff members got theirs picked.
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
EllyStar 
New England Con Whore
Posts: 1724
EllyStar
Loc: Massachusetts
Reg: 06-24-07

11-27-13 04:11 PM - Post#13116    
    In response to PatrickD

  • PatrickD Said:
  • NyanCon Said:
I ask because a convention is under fire for selecting 3 staff panelists because it takes away valuable space from fan panelists.


That's completely ridiculous! If anything, staff members might end up researching and presenting better panels because they have a dog in the fight and care about the outcome...while you never know with a fan panelist if they're going to take it seriously (which, thankfully, most do) or if they'll show up unprepared (which seems to happen at least a couple times per con).

Sounds to me like someone's jealous that their panel didn't get selected and some staff members got theirs picked.


Agreed. Staff members are fans too!

The only thing I can see is if some power hungry staff member demanded to do Panel Whatever, while well-known panelists of a similar Panel Whatever got shafted. And the staff member did poorly.
Elizabeth: Website and Podcast Writer
My Conventions


 
NyanCon 
Attendee
Posts: 11

Loc: Kirtland Ohio
Reg: 09-19-13

11-27-13 08:27 PM - Post#13117    
    In response to EllyStar

Oh awesome, I'm glad other conventions do it too! The staff panelists are responsible for 5-10 panels over the weekend and have unscheduled panels on backup in case of no-shows and cancellations, but most everyone thinks those spaces should go to "real panelists" even though they were regular panelists the year before. I can understand the initial frustration because chances of getting in are slim since they have about 400 submissions every year and only about 125 are going to get approved, but people always complain about panel quality and this is a way to control that.

 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
Posts: 5079
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

11-27-13 08:55 PM - Post#13118    
    In response to NyanCon

IMHO, anything over 6 panels per person spread over a 3 day con is a bit much. If there are staffers running 10 panels and these people can't get one, that does seem to be a bit one-sided...unless the people who can't get one are trying to do something totally off topic (like a panel about open source software at an anime con.)
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
Nigoki 
Obsessed with robots
Posts: 1468
Nigoki
Reg: 02-25-09

11-27-13 10:33 PM - Post#13119    
    In response to NyanCon

Having staff members who can do a panel on the spot in case you get a no-show is a very smart backup. One of my all time favorite con memories is having to make up a Gundam panel on the fly.

It can't hurt to build a list of staffers who can do this. You won't guarantee they'll be needed, but knowing who can jump in is great. I'd love to find a good way of tracking that info (maybe just poll your staffers a few weeks before a con?)
Additionally, talk to any known successful panelists that will be attending and see if they're willing/able to do something more if there's a no-show. I know more than a few panelists who have a panel repertoire and everything is on the laptop/tablet they bring to the con so pulling up an extra takes little to no prep.
-Doug Wilder
Resident Mecha fanboy of AnimeCons TV!


 
Gale 
Sacrificial White Mage
Posts: 476
Gale
Loc: New England
Reg: 03-08-09

12-07-13 11:10 AM - Post#13317    
    In response to NyanCon

  • NyanCon Said:
Oh awesome, I'm glad other conventions do it too! The staff panelists are responsible for 5-10 panels over the weekend and have unscheduled panels on backup in case of no-shows and cancellations, but most everyone thinks those spaces should go to "real panelists" even though they were regular panelists the year before. I can understand the initial frustration because chances of getting in are slim since they have about 400 submissions every year and only about 125 are going to get approved, but people always complain about panel quality and this is a way to control that.



Are the panels in question being run only by staff members, or are some of the panelists staff members and others not? This doesn't actually make a difference, but if there happen to also be non-staff on some of the panels it might soften the opinions of those most critical.

Also, is any one of those three staff members doing more than 3 panels over the course of the weekend? If so I would worry about their ability to keep up with their staffing duties.

I would also echo what everyone else has said: as long as they submit panels the same way as an attendee and their staff status is incidental in terms of whether or not their panels are selected I don't see a problem. You mention most (all?) the staffers in question are new to staff this year and have a history of running panels at the event, correct? If that is the case they are even more justified to continue running panels IMO.

The only impact staff status could possibly have on the process at all is scheduling when the panel occurs (while you want to honor requests of any panelist, it's a little more important to work around a staffer's schedule since it could impact other parts of the convention!)

The one thing I would caution however is don't spend too much of your time responding to these criticisms. If it really is becoming a major PR issue come up with a statement that addresses the concerns, and leave it at that. Avoid engaging in public back-and-forth with critical attendees because you run the risk of coming off unprofessionally. Have your statement and stick to it.


 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
Posts: 5079
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

12-07-13 07:42 PM - Post#13322    
    In response to Gale

  • Gale Said:
The one thing I would caution however is don't spend too much of your time responding to these criticisms. If it really is becoming a major PR issue come up with a statement that addresses the concerns, and leave it at that. Avoid engaging in public back-and-forth with critical attendees because you run the risk of coming off unprofessionally. Have your statement and stick to it.


I agree with this 100%! It's not just related to this situation either. When someone (or a group of someones) criticizes something, you should respond to acknowledge the issue, perhaps ask for more details (if necessary), and that you'll do your best to fix it or prevent it from happening again. After that, there's no need to reply again since that just starts a debate and fans the flames. All issues, no matter how bad, eventually die down and fade from memory (although some may take longer than others.)

...but ignoring the issue (or worse, DELETING the complaint) makes things worse.
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
NyanCon 
Attendee
Posts: 11

Loc: Kirtland Ohio
Reg: 09-19-13

12-08-13 02:08 AM - Post#13330    
    In response to Gale

  • Gale Said:
Are the panels in question being run only by staff members, or are some of the panelists staff members and others not? This doesn't actually make a difference, but if there happen to also be non-staff on some of the panels it might soften the opinions of those most critical.

Also, is any one of those three staff members doing more than 3 panels over the course of the weekend? If so I would worry about their ability to keep up with their staffing duties.

I would also echo what everyone else has said: as long as they submit panels the same way as an attendee and their staff status is incidental in terms of whether or not their panels are selected I don't see a problem. You mention most (all?) the staffers in question are new to staff this year and have a history of running panels at the event, correct? If that is the case they are even more justified to continue running panels IMO.





Yeah, staff panelists are allowed and encouraged to have co-hosts, that's definitely a solid point.

The staff are all doing between 5 and 10 panels over the course of the weekend, but those acutally are the duties. There's time spent sitting in programming headquarters, checking in/helping panelists and possibly filling in a no-show, but that's it.

Thanks so much for the advice, you guys are amazing!

 
Crazy Packers Fan 
Newbie
Posts: 4
Crazy Packers Fan
Reg: 07-18-08

02-17-14 10:54 AM - Post#13625    
    In response to NyanCon

I've seen a con favor giving staff panels in order to save money. For example, a staff member would get 5 panels in order that the con would not have to give out compensation for any of those time slots (whereas the staff member is already getting compensated in the first place). I don't work on any staff and I like providing panels to cons so I'm definitely against the favoritism that gives panels to staff members over paying attendees. In addition, I've seen that staff members' friends tend to get more panels accepted than outsiders. This isn't to say that they don't put on good panels, but they do get favoritism.

 
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