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A Rookie’s Perspective on POMA 2024

Posted on: May 17, 2024

From POMA's Executive Director Rob Sexton

For many of us, traveling on business is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, we travel for good reasons: to gain knowledge, network, share information, collaborate, etc. All are reasons of value. On the other hand, we return to our homes and offices to a world that didn’t stop while we were gone. Work has piled up. Emails have accumulated. Projects have largely sat idle. For me, I tend to spend the week after a business trip evaluating the value of the trip in relation to the labor involved in digging out.

This is the lens through which I judged the POMA 2024 Annual Meeting, held the first week of May in Pinewood, South Carolina, at the South Carolina Waterfowl Association. POMA serves two distinct constituencies: the outdoor media who make their living covering this subject matter and the corporate partners doing commerce in this same space.

The latter group is not hard to understand. Corporations, whether for profit or non-profit, are seeking exposure. They need to touch potential customers, donors and participants in order to sustain and grow their business. The only question is how POMA can provide this value.

The media members have more than one motivation to travel to the annual meeting. Seeking content opportunities is certainly a priority. Meeting and cultivating relationships with potential clients or employers are other reasons. Honing one’s craft and skillset is yet another potential value.

POMA 2024 provided a healthy portion of all the above. Content opportunities were plentiful, kicking off with field trips such as fishing and kayaking. A tour of the incredible grounds of the South Carolina Waterfowl Association provided unexpected value as POMA attendees discovered first hand all that organization has done to promote conservation, hunting and shooting far beyond the boundaries of their state.

Several opportunities to improve media skills and opportunities were also plentiful. Topics included developing engaging social media content by Murray Road Agency, using analytics to understand buyer trends by Gunbroker.com and an interactive discussion of artificial intelligence by Bud Johnson.

Cultivating productive business relationships is perhaps the most valuable aspect of the any conference. POMA 2024 provided ample opportunities both on a formal basis and in more relaxing atmospheres. The Speed Meeting Session ensured every attendee had the chance to at least meet and exchange contact information with each other as media members rotated from corporate partner to corporate partner in short increments. The following day provided more freedom for media members who could spend as much time as they desired with the corporate partner of their choice during the Product Showcase. Range Day added both networking and content options on the final day of the conference.

The more informal time slots set aside for networking are perhaps the most valuable. Extended breaks, meal functions and fireside hospitality hours provided relationship building options for any attendee who had that value as a goal.

The setting of the conference was beautiful, relaxing and conducive along the lines of a corporate retreat. The cost value was nearly impossible to exceed as all meals were provided in addition to the programming outlined above. For media members in attendance, POMA 2024 was an easily recognized valuable business decision.

Our corporate partners were gracious both with their financial support and with their commitment of time and resources to provide much of the programming we enjoyed. On an individual basis I heard and saw many productive relationships made and cultivated with media members that provide exposure to these companies.

POMA’s media members should feel gratitude at the level of support provided by companies. That is why prioritizing value to them is critical for the organization and its media members. In addition to the simple financial proposition in which these companies underwrite the programming and fun involved in the meeting, our corporate partners provide a bottomless pit of content opportunity along with frequent income projects and employment.

It is essential to the survival of POMA, and more importantly the hook and bullet media, that we as media provide a better bang for the buck of our corporate partners. Simple thank yous and public acknowledgments from media attendees are both helpful and the correct and courteous response for corporate contributions to POMA.

But by far the most valuable thing POMA media members can do is to show up and take advantage of the incredible programming that is available at the POMA Annual Meeting. Improving both our media member numbers and attendance at POMA 2025 are essential.

As a rookie with POMA, I found POMA 2024 a high quality proposition. The programming was fantastic. The setting was beautiful and welcoming. Having the chance to meet and cultivate professional relationships was invaluable, and the fun factor was high. As part of the Annual Awards Banquet, POMA recognized our organization’s First Vice President Britney Booth with the top honor, the Emerald Award.

The honor was well earned. Britney nearly exhausted herself coordinating every aspect of the conference. She is a priceless resource for POMA and its members and set the bar high for subsequent conferences.

With a year between now and POMA 2025 on Lake Erie in Ohio, our primary mission will be to aggressively promote improved attendance at the conference. Our numbers in South Carolina were slightly higher than 2023. However, the value and opportunity provided is simply too good to miss. It is our job at POMA to ensure our members know every benefit that comes with attending the annual meeting.

Overall, we have many goals to add value for both media and corporate members over and above the annual meeting. They are vital to the future of POMA. But having attended POMA 2024 I now know that the meeting is the flagship and most important event we hold. It is a must attend, and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to see more of you in Ohio next June 23-25, 2025.