The formula for a fantastic conference?  After last week’s Public Affairs Council Grassroots Conference, I can safely say it’s a mix of substance and city.  Specifically, two parts Grassroots Advocacy, one part Key West. Attendees from corporations, associations, and nonprofits (and of course, the vendors and consultants like Beekeeper Group that support them!) gathered in Key West, Florida, for four days of education, training, networking, and fun.  Here are our top ten highlights —

  1. Beekeeper Group hosts an Australia Day themed BBQ at our rental house on Duval Street.  Attendees enjoy shrimps on the barbie, lobster tail, people watching on Duval Street, and of course, the State of the Union on TV (we can only disconnect so much!).
  2. Congressional Management Foundation President Brad Fitch presents the latest Communicating with Congress report findings — including that Congressional staff find consituents more influential than lobbyists!
  3. Betsy Ricketts of Chevron and Rikki Amos of Public Affairs Council lead a first-of-its-kind discussion on the challenges and opportunities of embracing transparency in grassroots.
  4. Corey Henry of the American Frozen Foods Institute and Douglas Pinkham of Public Affairs Council share stories and strategies on how to best manage grassroots communications in a crisis.
  5. Andy Elting of American Beverage Association and Lisa Thorne of Verizon Communications share case studies of how their organization’s successfully used social media (especially Facebook!) on critical issue campaigns.
  6. Beekeeper Group’s strategy of using video and animation to explain complex policy inspires many, as numerous conference attendees view the video we produced on the national debt (and our video of the Bee heading to Key West).
  7. Conference attendees get their photo opp with the Bee at an evening networking reception!
  8. American Heart Association, Portland General Electric, and American Express are selected as the 2010 Grassroots Innovation Award winners!
  9. Conference attendees find themselves congregating yet again at Key West institution, Sloppy Joe’s.
  10. Former Congressman Bill Paxon shares his perspectives on the impact of the latest Congress on business, finding the three biggest game-changers are the Tea Party, the GOP Freshman Class attack on spending, and the fiscal crisis in the states.

What did we miss??  Leave your 2011 PAC Grassroots Conference highlights in the comment section below!