Two weeks ago at PASS Summit 2016, we had the opportunity to give our community members a sneak peek at the new PASS brand and website project that we’ve been working on for the better part of this year. To watch the reveal or see the brand come together, please watch it here.
We chose to introduce it at Summit, our largest annual gathering of our community, so we could hear directly from those in attendance. We loved the brand, but we were eager to hear what others thought about it as well.
The initial response has been very positive, with community members interested in adopting the new brand. But, at the same time, we know that change is not easy, especially with a re-branding exercise of this size. PASS is a global community with hundreds of events worldwide, and a vast community of volunteers, websites, portals, and partners. We are currently in the in-between period. We haven’t retired our previous brand, but are not yet fully immersed in our new brand either. We have started the process, but to be practical and successful in the full transition, have planned for it to take some time. Some of the new branding is now being used, particularly promotion and advertising for PASS Summit 2017 and our newest event, PASS Business Analytics Day. Many of you are likely asking, why? Why use the new with the old?
Our new brand will be rolled out starting in January 2017, with the new website to follow shortly afterwards. We made a decision that any PASS-owned events starting in 2017 should have the new identities; it just seemed right. For example, PASS BA Day is a new event and we saw inclusion of the new visual identity as critical. So, we decided to release it with the updated brand even though it would be inconsistent on certain channels (e.g. advertisements on the sqlpass.org website). The same for PASS Summit 2017. The lead time needed for promoting the event required us to immediately use the brand to support marketing efforts.
We recognize that it does look a little odd to have this mix of old and new branding co-existing. Soon, the new branding will be released alongside the redeveloped website and there will be enhanced brand consistency moving forward.
Rolling out the brand is a big job and we are eager to get started. As we commence this, you will see more of the brand start to trickle out. A comprehensive plan is being finalized that will be shared with our community leaders on integration of the new brand, including guidelines for use.
We ask for your patience and understanding while we undertake this process.
Our Diamond Partner, Microsoft, will be making an exciting announcement this week at PASS Summit 2016, so until Tuesday morning, only the Guidebook will be available for schedule updates. This means that all printed program materials (Program Guide and Session Schedule) will be available for attendees starting on Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM.
For pre-conference attendees, you will be receiving both the program guide and session schedule during the Tuesday morning session break. Our teams at PASS will be handing them out to you as you leave your session rooms.
Regular conference registrations will receive their printed materials starting at 9:00 am on Tuesday.
Again, in the meantime, please use the guidebook available on your smart phones for the most up-to-date information. Navigate to your app store and download “Guidebook”, then search for “PASS Summit 2016”. But don’t try to find any details of the announcement there either – you’ll just have to wait until Tuesday!
Enjoy your time at PASS Summit 2016!
As you finalize your packing list for PASS Summit, starting next week in Seattle, a quick reminder that you should not forget your backpack. We are not giving away backpacks this year, but we do have something else for you. Reminders were shared in the attendee bulletins. But in case you didn’t hear of the change and reasons, we are sharing it again. Instead, please bring your own backpack. We are also being more environmentally conscious at PASS Summit 2016 and encourage you to bring your own water bottle. There are water bubblers and refill stations throughout the conference center.
We are incredibly excited about our program and the list of activities planned throughout the week. Don’t forget to download the mobile guide, Guidebook and visit www.passsummit.com for the latest announcements. We look forward to welcoming you to PASS Summit.
Vice President, Marketing
We want to ensure everybody has an enjoyable, safe and harassment-free experience at PASS Summit, which is why we have extended the Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP) and made it more convenient to report an incident. I’d like to update you on some important changes that were made to the AHP and the incident reporting process for PASS Summit 2016.
First a reminder that everyone at Summit (attendees, speakers, partners, exhibitors, volunteers and PASS staff) is expected to follow the AHP at all times. The AHP applies “in any situation in which Summit attendees are interacting with one another during the week of PASS Summit on or offsite; including non-event locations.”
This year all attendees will receive a red ticket with their attendee badge that includes the Anti-Harassment Officer phone number and how to access an incident report. This is a change for 2016, as we want to provide attendees with a direct way to reach out to the Anti-Harassment Officer, as well as report their concerns anonymously.
Here are the ways you can make a report:
- - Contact the Anti-Harassment Officer directly using the phone number provided in your attendee badge.
- - Download the Anti-Harassment Incident Summary report online at http://www.sqlpass.org/AboutPASS/Governance.aspx and email it to Governance@sqlpass.org.
- - Pick up a paper form at the Information Desk at PASS Summit and drop it in the drop box – this method can be done anonymously.
- - Approach PASS HQ or Board members to make the call to the Anti-Harassment Officer on your behalf or to discuss anything related to the policy.
Also, there is one very important aspect about the policy: If you are in physical danger or require an immediate response, you are encouraged to notify appropriate law enforcement first (phone 911). This policy and reporting process is not an emergency response mechanism.
The complete AHP and details for reporting a concern through either of the previously mentioned methods will also be included in your printed Program Guide and the mobile app. I encourage all attendees to take a few minutes to become familiar with the policy while onsite. Posters displaying the AHP will be displayed throughout the convention center.
I wish you all an enjoyable and exciting time at PASS Summit and look forward to meeting members of our global community onsite.
Vice President, Marketing
One of the strengths of the community of professionals that work with the Microsoft data platform is exactly that: it’s a community. People want to contribute, to help one another be better at their jobs and grow their careers. That’s why we contribute so many volunteer hours to putting on events, speaking and writing. We invest in the community because we believe in it. And because we invest in it we feel a sense of ownership over what happens in it.
As the largest organization for these data professionals, PASS is one of the places where decisions that impact the community are made. The sense of ownership people have in this community extends to PASS. It is one of the main reasons why people have passionate debates on topics like speaker contracts, policy changes and elections: they care deeply about the outcome. Debates and exchanges of ideas are good, they make our organization better. The feedback we are getting now on changes to the speaker contract will help us improve that document. As PASS President Adam Jorgensen said in his blog, we recognize that we didn’t quite get it right. We welcome your input so we can fix it.
But there can be a shadow to all the passionate debate and that shadow is revealed when the tone of the discussion stops being professional, when it ceases to be civil. PASS as an organization has no room for insults, name-calling or misogyny. Personal attacks of any kind, be they based on gender, race, political affiliation, religious beliefs or anything else, are not welcome in PASS and should not be welcome in the community as a whole.
Let’s all channel our passion for this community in a constructive way and keep our discussions professional and respectful.
Send us your feedback on the speaker contract, or any other any other PASS topic, to email@example.com. Together let’s continue to make our organization better and fulfill PASS’ mission to help our members connect, share and learn.
Vice President, Marketing
I'd like to address some concerns that have been brought up surrounding the recent changes to the PASS Anti-Harassment Policy (AHP).
There are concerns that the policy will be used to ban someone from PASS Summit for swearing or that joking among friends will be policed. The PASS AHP has been in place since 2012; in that time there have been no examples of the policy being used in this way.
This policy is about protecting people against real harassment: women being groped, people being subject to unwanted sexual advances, people being threatened with physical harm. These examples are not hypothetical; they have occurred at other industry events, and unfortunately some have occurred at PASS events. When considering the AHP I'd ask every member of the community to keep this top-of-mind.
Before the recent changes we could only take action if an incident occurred at an activity directly sponsored by PASS: a session room, in the convention center, or at a PASS-sponsored social event. If the same incident occurred at a partner-sponsored party, in a taxi cab or in the hallway of a hotel, we could not take any action under the original version of the policy. Think about that for a minute: if a woman was groped by another attendee at an off-site party we had to tell her "sorry, we can't do anything."
There have been concerns raised that any complaint will result in someone being removed from PASS Summit. To be clear: we are committed to investigating every complaint; that does not mean that every complaint will result in an action being taken. The AHP is not a zero-tolerance policy, as some have suggested. The Anti-Harassment Review Committee (AHRC) has discretion as to what action it takes, if any. And all AHRC activities are reported to the full Board of Directors.
I hope this clears up some of the confusion and misunderstanding about what the AHP is actually designed to do. I encourage every PASS member to read and better understand this important policy document.
Vice President, Marketing
The PASS Board of Directors recently approved a revised version of the Anti-Harassment Policy. This is a very important policy document for PASS, designed to ensure that everybody has an enjoyable experience at PASS events. I made developing this policy part of my campaign platform for my Board seat in 2011, recognizing that it was something we needed, and an essential element of other technical conferences and events, and have remained committed to its development and refinement since.
As has been outlined in a 2015 blog post by Immediate Past President Thomas LaRock, there was an increase in the number of incidents reported at last year’s PASS Summit. The policy is designed to reduce incidents, and to clearly outline the recourse/action to be taken when incidents do occur.
The policy has been in effect since it was first developed in 2012. Since then, the Board has been monitoring its effectiveness. Following PASS Summit 2015 we decided it was time to revisit the policy and I undertook the reporting and management of this on behalf of the Board with my PASS HQ counterparts and PASS Governance. This was a comprehensive process and I want to make clear that we took this very seriously: we researched other conferences to see what their policies were, we spoke to vendors, and we considered community feedback.
The actual policy purpose and definition of harassment remain exactly the same:
We are dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification…
Harassment includes, but is not limited to, offensive verbal comments related to gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or any other protected classification directed toward an individual or group. Intimidation, threats, stalking, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome attention will also be considered harassment. Similarly, sexual, racist, derogatory, threatening, or other inappropriate language and imagery are not appropriate for any conference venue, including sessions.
So what has changed? Well, we have extended the range of coverage. The previous policy made it clear that it was onsite at PASS events, but now it also covers event attendees at all times and places during the duration of the conference/event, including offsite vendor activities. As I mentioned previously, we consulted with vendors and they are onboard with our changes. We have updated the PASS vendor agreement to include this requirement, moving forward. We also ask that any members of our community who may organize an offsite social activity or event also sign on to following these guidelines.
We have also made it easier and safer for people to make reports, including the ability to report anonymously, and will provide easier access to the form used for reporting an incident, both online and in hardcopy format. The policy also now includes new language defining physical danger, and making it clear that this is not an emergency service.
The process for handling reported incidents is unchanged. The Anti-Harassment Review Committee (AHRC) will review all reports, investigate, and take action as it deems appropriate.
As part of the broader awareness campaign for the policy, we will ensure that it is more widely visible, publishing it in the conference program guides and clearly onsite, as well. While the revised version was not endorsed in time for the PASS Business Analytics Conference, it will be in place for Summit 2016 and future events.
I hope you recognize the importance of having this more robust Anti-Harassment Policy. As has been mentioned before, this is not about policing the community; it is about ensuring that all of us are able to have a safe and enjoyable experience at PASS events.
Vice President, Marketing
I want to update you all on an exciting project coming out of the January Board meeting. One of our strategic priorities for the year will be a redesign of sqlpass.org website. The project includes a navigation and usability overhaul, a new visual identity, and improved features. The redesign will ensure the site meets best-practice standards for usability and accessibility.
Included in the project scope is the development of a new learning center portal that supports our educational resources and our community portfolios. The portal will gather all of our existing training and learning resources and put them in one easily accessible, searchable, and coordinated place, while at the same time enabling better access to our Chapters and Virtual Chapters.
Functionality of the mobile experience will be enhanced, ensuring that the new site displays and functions properly on a wide variety of devices and operating systems.
Over the years, the website has unfortunately not kept pace with the global growth of PASS. So we will also take this opportunity to introduce multilingual support to target strategically significant languages, supporting our communities in the LATAM and EMEA regions.
The redevelopment is currently in the initial planning stages. After a thorough review and RFP process, we have selected our vendor and are finalizing the scope of this project. As part of the RFP and scoping requirements, the decision was made to keep the website on the DNN platform. This decision was made after investigating and exploring six alternative platforms. The conclusion of this research was that with proper design DNN is a mature platform that offers the necessary security, reliability and user experience and functionalities to meet our current objectives, and gives us room to grow. With expert design, development and execution we will see significant improvements over our current site.
This project represents a change in our approach to the development of sqlpass.org and will leverage vendor partners, the platform and our community resources in a much better way. Through this scoping project, we have already upgraded our DNN platform to the latest version 7.4.2.
The next phase of the project involves our team conducting a thorough content review and comprehensive site-mapping process before development can begin.
I am pleased to share this exciting information with you. More details will be made available in the coming months as the project progresses.
Vice President, Marketing, PASS
As our membership increases and we expand our reach globally, the importance of sharing timely and informative communication with you remains a priority for us. In fact, sharing these communications is one of the most critical functions of my role as Vice President, Marketing, and the entire PASS Board.
Last fall, PASS expanded its Marketing team to include a Communications Strategist to help provide annual communication planning for PASS. This has allowed us to develop an integrated communication strategy that supports increased transparency, better planning for key dates throughout the year, and reduced reactive communications. It has also allowed our team to address specific considerations such as consistency in tone, style, messaging, and channels.
These elements have become increasingly important as we have worked to increase our engagement globally, and to ensure that our key messages are translated and made available to wider audiences around the world.
To help support these functions, we now have three tools: an annual communications plan, an editorial calendar, and a social media plan. These allow us to better plan what, when, and how we communicate with you.
In addition, we continue to look at ways to increase member engagement with our Board through Town Halls and social media. Watch our social channels, blogs, newsletters, and website for regular updates and communications throughout the year.
Vice President, Marketing
October 26, 2015 — I would like to address questions we’ve received at PASS Summit 2015 regarding the decision not to provide backpacks to attendees this year. Every year, when the Board looks at the annual fiscal budget, difficult choices are made in balancing portfolio budgets and priorities. This year, one of these difficult choices was to remove $160,000 for backpack purchases. By removing this expense from the PASS Summit budget, we were able to fully fund community portfolios.
The Board made this decision knowing that the feedback we’d received on the backpacks from past PASS Summit attendees indicated that many people didn’t want the backpack. As PASS looks to expand its community-centric growth, it was decided that this money was better invested back into the community. This year’s attendee gift is an eco-friendly bag that celebrates our community with photos of former PASS Summit attendees.
We understand this might be disappointing for some attendees and welcome your feedback, either directly with one of our team or in the conference survey.
PASS VP, Marketing