An Inside Look At One Organization’s First-Ever Virtual Meeting

Jun 13, 2016, 17:50 PM by Alex Kozak


When Kerry Crockett accepted the role of Associate Executive Director at the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine two years ago, she recognized an essential ingredient for the future of one key section of the organization’s membership: virtual education. The Society for MR Radiographers & Technologists is part of ISMRM, but SMRT members have different needs due to industry norms.

“Technologists don’t normally receive reimbursement for their travel expenses, and their salaries are not as high as many other medical fields. However, they still need CEUs to maintain their certifications and refine their skills,” Crockett says. “So when I came onboard, I realized that a virtual meeting and a virtual presence were going to be very important for SMRT.”

As a graduate of the DEI's DES program, Crockett was excited to know that she could put her digital skills in action to benefit the organization, and her fellow decision makers didn’t need much convincing of the need for a virtual engagement strategy. “The virtual meeting wasn’t hard to sell,” Crockett says. “Part of our strategic plan is to position our brand on a more global level, and our leadership understood that virtual offerings would allow us to expand into areas of the world where we don’t have much of a footprint.”

SMRT — Live From Singapore

Fast forward to 2016, and Crockett and her team began cementing that footprint with the first-ever SMRT Virtual Meeting. With two full days of learning opportunities and the potential to earn 12.25 CE credits, the inaugural experience welcomed attendees from  six countries across five continents. As more than 260 SMRT members came together in Singapore for the face-to-face meeting, 25 additional technologists tuned in for the experience. While virtual participation fell short of the projected 45 virtual attendees, Crockett highlights that everyone in the organization recognizes that virtual success relies on the long-term impact.

“This is an investment for us,” Crockett says. “We knew that even if we didn’t turn a profit on the first year, we’re confident that this will pay off in the bigger picture.”

Creating More Opportunities With Content

As Crockett looks to the future and the next SMRT virtual experience, she and her team aren’t forgetting about the content they’ve already captured; they’re using the sessions from 2016 to extend the conversation beyond the two days of the meeting. “We’re making sure attendees can access the content on-demand,” Crockett says. “And we’ll be using some of the highlights to help those who didn’t attend see what they missed.”

However, there is a key difference in SMRT’s content strategy versus many other organizations in the adult learning landscape: everyone will pay for it. A tiered pricing structure offers discounts for members, but Crockett and SMRT leadership made a conscious decision that, from day one, all attendees would pay for the virtual learning.

Plenty of educators like to give away virtual content for free with the belief it will pay dividends down the road, but Crockett says the SMRT team had a conversation about the free-versus-fee debate. “Developing a virtual program costs money,” Crockett says. “So we shouldn’t be afraid to charge for it. We need to make a return on this in order to keep creating great education for our audience.”

“By putting a price tag on it, you’re showing it has value,” Crockett adds. “And demonstrating that value is crucial to keep people coming back for more.”