Editor’s note: Today’s post is by the 2023 Co-Chairs of SSP’s Marketing and Communications Committee: Michael Casp, Director of Business Development, J&J Editorial; Mike Groth, Director of Marketing, KnowledgeWorks Global, Ltd; and Jennifer Regala, Director of Publications/Executive Editor, American Urological Association.
As the co-chairs of the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s (SSP’s) Marketing and Communications committee, one of our favorite “jobs” is promoting our Annual Meeting. We use quotes around “jobs” because truly, it isn’t a job at all to promote anything about SSP, particularly the Annual Meeting. It is beloved to us all, so marketing this event comes straight from our hearts. The SSP Annual Meeting is the source of our collective professional development, insight into the future of scholarly publishing, networking, and community. It is the focal point of our SSP year — a time to celebrate our history and our community as well as looking to what the future of our profession holds.
We reached out to members of our community who had the opportunity to attend this year’s meeting to ask: “What did SSP 2022 mean to you?” As you read these thoughtful responses, we encourage you to reflect on not only SSP 2022 but SSP at large. What does SSP mean to YOU? How can we build on the momentum of this meeting to embody SSP’s core values? The SSP community is special, but it takes every single one of us to make it so. Every single member, past, present, and future, of SSP is valued for their unique contributions to the organization.
It’s obvious to us from comments we collected from our peers that we are not alone in our SSP love. From appreciation for the Annual Meeting Program Committee (thank you, Lori Carlin, Yael Fitzpatrick and Tim Lloyd) to invaluable knowledge to human connections, both in-person and virtual, SSP 2022 far exceeded expectations. We’re already counting down to SSP 2023!
Romy Beard, ChronosHub
For me, it was great to meet people in person again (post-COVID) and attend a live conference. As a first time SSP-attendee, I really enjoyed making new connections. I also enjoyed the sessions.
Marianne Calihanna, Data Conversion Laboratory
SSP 2022 was the first year I volunteered on the Annual Meeting Program Committee. The combination of getting back to a live event while experiencing all the teamwork required to put on the show really made the event sizzle with extra energy for me. It’s one thing to say that the global pandemic has made us not take the little things for granted, but it’s a whole other thing to experience the gratitude of our community collectively and witness it through the simple gestures of a shared smile with a stranger or a hug from an old friend.
Lori Carlin, Delta Think
The SSP Annual Meeting has always been an important event on my professional calendar… and personally too. And all the reasons for that being the case still hold true: an opportunity to see current colleagues and friends; an opportunity to meet new colleagues, make new connections; and of course to learn, learn, learn about new ideas, new initiatives, new products and services, and ways to improve on all we already know and do. SSP 2022 was a bit more special in a number of ways though. First, and obviously, as an Annual Meeting Co-Chair, it was important to me personally that Yael, Tim, and I, with the mega support of our awesome committee members and the phenomenal SSP leadership and staff, were able to assemble and present a diverse and inspiring program, that we provided the community with ah-ha moments and information they found relevant and applicable, along with ample time to network and further build community. But there was something extra this year too – the added excitement of being back in person, the almost palpable desire of attendees to soak it all in and come away refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to head back to work with new ideas and new perspectives. That extra energy – that’s what made SSP 2022 that much more meaningful.
Chhavi Chauhan, The American Society for Investigative Pathology
The SSP 2018 meeting changed the course of my career when I extensively networked with the attendees and reached out to SSP members and leaders for guidance on my career path. Four years later, SSP 2022 was a culmination of joy, accomplishment, gratitude, and honor as I attended my first in-person Board meeting, met innumerable collaborators from the last few years for the first time in person, and caught up with so many of my favorite scholarly publishing professionals during sessions and social gatherings. Two words to summarize SSP 2022: Joy and (My) Community!
Helen Cooke, Digital Science
I really enjoyed my first SSP Annual Meeting and having attended many conferences in the academic library and publishing sphere, I found it to be an excellent mix of lively and interactive sessions, alongside a well-attended exhibitor marketplace. I appreciated the space to be able to hold meetings not just at our booth, but around the exhibitor hall and beyond – lovely to have a spacious, welcoming venue. The drinks receptions in the exhibitor marketplace worked well as a great space for networking and catching up.
The Whova app was a particular positive, I used it a lot to find out which sessions were on and when, and also to search for and message other attendees beforehand. It was great to integrate the ability to scan and record contact details too. This worked better than other conference apps I’ve used before. The only thing missing for me was an evening dinner (and even dancing afterwards?!) to pull delegates together on one of the evenings. Overall, an excellent event and I look forward to attending future SSP conferences.
Georgie Field, PLOS
To me, the SSP Annual Meeting was a breath of fresh air that was really needed. A chance to get out of the office and back into the publishing community. There was a real sense of optimism, and the sessions were very forward-looking, from the future of AI, to building more inclusive publishing practices. Personally, SSP allowed me to meet all the people who supported me through my unfortunately timed 2020 Fellowship, and to meet the Annual Meeting Program Committee members who I’ve only been able to see in little Zoom rectangles for the past year. It was a real joy to attend, plus, who doesn’t love a conference with therapy dogs?!
Yael Fitzpatrick, PNAS
I’m not sure there’s enough room in this post to include all of my thoughts about what the SSP 44th Annual Meeting meant to me. But it can also be summed up in just one word: bittersweet. With the emphasis STRONGLY on the sweet. Serving as Annual Meeting Program Committee co-chair for the last four years has truly been one of the greatest joys and professional honors of my life, and rotating off brought an expected mix of emotions. After years of pandemic tumult, it was profoundly moving to see this meeting come together with such strong programming, and to be part of a simply amazing team with fellow co-chairs Lori Carlin and Tim Lloyd; all of the Program Committee members; past, present, and incoming Presidents; and the incomparable SSP staff. But I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I got to go out with an in-person meeting while past co-chair Cason Lynley did not. And I was delighted to the point of happy tears to finally meet Emily Farrell in person, and to welcome her into the incoming co-chair role.
As much as I was looking forward to reconnecting with friends and colleagues and to meeting some people in person for the first time, my introverted self wasn’t sure how I would react to being around so many people for the first time in ages, especially in such an intensive atmosphere. I specifically didn’t make any advance dinner plans in case I needed to just sit alone in a dark room to recover from being overwhelmed. I’m glad I allowed myself to go with the flow and with what felt right in the moment. That led to a highlight of spending time with my previously-online-only PNAS colleague Lillian Wang Selonick, one of the year’s SSP Fellows, discovering a shared love of cocktails and eating approximately half our body weight in dim sum.
And receiving an SSP Appreciation Award was the cherry on the meeting’s already overflowing sundae with extra caramel sauce. My only regret is that while remote recipients were told in advance of their awards and were able to prepare words of thanks, I was caught off guard and mumbled only an awkward “no…” when Lauren Kane asked if I wanted to say anything. Please know how grateful I am to be part of the SSP community, and to have connected with so many people, both in-person and virtually, at the Annual Meeting. It meant the world.
Paul Guinnessy, American Institute of Physics
As the first conference I’ve been to since March 2020 (which was canceled when I arrived at the hotel), it was a good test of what living with the pandemic would mean for business travel. The good news appeared to be that although masking was significantly less than I hoped for onboard the aircraft and inside the airport terminal, there were still a number of travelers cautious about the risks of going through a large space with potential carriers. Walking around the hotel masking was more mixed. When around SSP attendees, it felt safe enough to unmask due to knowing their vaccination status, outside of the conference it felt more risky (and I was noticing the ventilation almost by habit by the last day). The irony of course is that the unvaccinated are at more risk from me than I from them. Still, subconsciously, it did make attending feel more stressful than in previous meetings.
The meeting itself makes me wonder if this will become the new normal for many companies who have switched mostly to remote work: will the first time their employees meet in person be at a conference? In the past, I would travel to our Long Island office four times a year to meet with my colleagues, but with the rise of Zoom and our changed office culture, this was the first time I had met many of them. It was terrific to meet and talk in person. This connection highlights the value of in-person meetings to me. During three days, I made more personal connections and spoke to more SSP colleagues and vendors than in the last six months. Some of these connections are proving to be valuable to AIP as well as our publishing subsidiary. The commonality of problems in the industry is something that we sometimes forget when we become focused on specific issues, whether it’s on predatory journals, how to develop better workflow techniques, or customer service. Attending SSP is a reminder that we are not alone, and, if we’re lucky, someone already has a solution to our particular problem. Attending the talks was a good way to catch up on areas I am not an expert in and, more importantly, learn to know what questions to ask when we do dig into specific areas. The other aspect also relates to community: helping others. I am aware just how fortunate I have been in receiving advice and answers to questions in the past when I first started attending SSP conferences (or when we went for a run at 6:30 AM with some Silverchair colleagues who were kind enough to run slowly enough so I didn’t completely pass out and also answer questions on the way). Hopefully through efforts like helping with the SSP-DC chapter (publicized at the conference, thanks to Jennifer Regala’s poster on how we stayed engaged over the last two years), I will be able to give back the help freely offered to me. Attending the conference is a reminder to renew that effort.
The last aspect of the trip was although some things change, some things never do: Our flight back was delayed 90 minutes…
Gabe Harp, Research Square
Here is a smattering of my SSP 2022 highlights: seeing the wonderful work of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee and SSP staff coming to fruition; meeting people in person for the first time and, in some cases, not being able to remember whether I’d actually met them in person — or only virtually — before; debating the meaning of branzino; reviewing the excellent array of posters; experiencing the meeting content, from the opening keynote to the annual Previews Session and everything in between; and being terrified of attending an improv session and then delighted that I took the plunge.
Violaine Iglesias, Cadmore Media
Conferences are always energizing, but the 2022 SSP Annual Meeting was something special. Some of the highlights for me were: participating in a semi-improvised roundtable on video that, due to the absence of a couple speakers, was deftly transformed by our moderators Danielle Cooper and Dylan Ruediger into to an interactive experience with the audience, which seems to be what everyone needed after two years of webinars. Getting to speak about entrepreneurship in the same room where I announced the launch of Cadmore, exactly four years ago. Roaming the floors with my colleague Jessica Lawrence-Hurt, hearing so many good things about our company, and realizing how far we’ve come since our last in-person SSP. Getting to catch-up with old friends and meeting some new ones. A couple of very late nights that culminated in pricing and market fit discussions at 2 AM. Only at SSP!
Anna Jester, eJournalPress
SSP’s 2022 Annual Meeting meant reconnecting in-person with friends, mentors, and clients, in a simultaneously familiar and strange setting. Chicago looked much the same as my last visit, but Sherman “Dilla” Thomas left me paying far more attention to the city every time I was outdoors. I learned from speakers with diverse opinions and lived experience. I enjoyed the extra space in the exhibit hall and have now updated my social media profiles with an updated headshot. It was the return to SSP I wanted and needed.
Erin Landis, Origin Editorial
For me, SSP 2022 was an opportunity to reconnect with friends and colleagues in person — the educational sessions were inspiring and informative, but I learned the most from the one-on-one conversations I had with others at the networking events, social gatherings, and hallway conversations. Two years of Zoom meetings proved that nothing can replace the value of these impromptu in-person conversations. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have these once again. Thank you SSP!
Duncan MacRae, Wolters Kluwer
SSP 2022 was my first in-person conference in at least three years and, as for a lot of people, the impact of seeing colleagues in person, as opposed to via webcam, was striking. As a speaker particularly, being in front of a live audience cannot be adequately replaced by remote communications – spontaneously chatting with someone as you pass them in the hotel lobby without needing to check their Outlook calendar was also a revelation. SSP 2022 was fantastically organized and truly made me realize the unique value of in-person meetings.
Rebecca McLeod, Harvard Data Science Review
SSP 2022 was bittersweet for me. The sweetness consisted of the countless happy reunions I had with my industry friends and colleagues and the opportunity to finally connect in person with folks I had previously only interacted with on Zoom (special shout outs to Randy, Alexa, CC, and Kasia!). The bitter or sad part of SSP 2022 was that it marked the end of my tenure as a member of the Board of Directors. It was such an honor and privilege to serve SSP over the past three years and to work closely with Melanie, Alice, Jackie, Mary Beth, Miranda, and my wonderful fellow board members. I can’t remain sad however where there is Portland in 2023 to look forward to!
Julia Quinlin, Digital Science
This was my first experience with an event designed exclusively for the growth and development of those within and related to the publishing industry, and it was incredible. Most beneficial to me personally was the opportunity to network in person with like-minded professionals. But I was especially struck by the speed and momentum with which we as a community are anticipating and even eagerly calling for change.
Heather Staines, Delta Think
I’ve said since my return that I wouldn’t say I had a ton of conversations in Chicago, but I had a number of very special conversations (and not about work) where the discussion went to another level, one we never would have gotten to in a Zoom room. I learned that I had unexpected things in common with both those I had known a while and new acquaintances. That is the magic of the in-person meeting.
The hotel was the perfect venue — big enough to roomily accommodate us, but not so cavernous that we felt the weighing absence of who was missing. Moving back and forth from the sessions area to the exhibits provided a great opportunity to spot folks from afar and gave that “everyone is busy and moving forward” feel.
I got to meet a few of my new Delta Think colleagues in person for the first time. I also met my fellowship mentee. It was a lot of real life crammed into a few days. (And karaoke, which is always a good thing).
Willa Tavernier, Indiana University
SSP was great for remembering the great community it is. It was so good to meet up with folks that I had only seen on the other side of a screen for the past two years, most of whom I had never met in person. I met new people, some of whose names were familiar and others whose were not. Everyone was open and friendly and I look forward to fostering those relationships. I benefited from the diverse publishing perspectives and this deepened my interest in humanities publishing. I set a goal to learn more about the business of publishing over the next year. This was spurred by the Friday session “Strategic Management – Of Your Career” with Danielle Galian, Randy Townsend, Ashley Warren, and John Warren, so I’ll be checking in more with C3 for resources to help with this!
John W. Warren, MPS in Publishing Program, George Washington University
In the past four weeks, I attended three conferences: the Library Publishing Forum in Pittsburgh, SSP’s 44th Annual Meeting in Chicago, and the Association of University Presses Annual Meeting in Washington, DC. I presented at LPF and SSP. These conferences were a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues, some of whom I’ve known for 25 or more years, some of whom I’ve known only through Zoom or Twitter. A special highlight was seeing so many young people, including recent graduates from our MPS in Publishing program at George Washington University, give presentations for the first time at a major conference. Ashley Warren of Sage Publishing and Danielle Galian of Wiley joined SSP President-elect Randy Townsend and me for a session on Strategic Career Management at the SSP meeting, for example, and Ashley moderated another session on tools for early career professionals, while Kristine Krebs joined the other SSP Fellows on stage at the Awards luncheon. Presenting at conferences and getting involved in committees are fantastic ways to build your professional network and advance in this profession. After introducing one of our recent graduates to several professionals whom I’ve known for 20+ years, she remarked, “I hope that 20 years from now, I have this kind of experience, introducing people I’ve known for this long in the profession.” That’s what conferences like SSP are all about, and it’s great that, after more than two years of Zoom-only conferences (which also have their benefits, in terms of access), we can gather in person once again.
Michael, Mike, and Jennifer welcome and value input from the community and look forward to a great year of advancing SSP programming and sharing the SSP community camaraderie.