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Swag & Elbow Bumps: Recapping SMPS PRC

By Rachel West and Allison Tivnon

First, can we acknowledge that the SMPS PRC conference didn’t happen in 2021? It felt like not a whole lot of anything happened last year, but that was especially bittersweet for us marketers out west and yonder. Look at this map. That little grayed out ‘2021’ puts a fine point on how meaningful and long-overdue this year’s gathering was. We laughed, we cried, we maintained a safe distance when required, and we connected with one another.

From our little corner of the conference, here are a few memories that linger:

To hug or not to hug. You could almost see the internal struggle of restraint/hesitancy playing out in the meeting areas. Everyone has their own comfort level, so there was a lot of navigating body language to figure out the appropriate greeting. A small smattering of awkward handshakes, some deeply heartfelt “throw-caution-to-the-wind” hugs, but mostly elbow bumps as far as the eye could see.

Getting back in the groove with business cards. Let us set the scene: hundreds of people patting empty pockets on the first day, only to realize they weren’t packing. Womp Womp! By Day 2, we had collectively found our stride and pristine business cards of every size, seam color, and finish practically flew through the air.

‘How are you?’ outpaces ‘How’s your company?’ Hallway conversations had longer warm-ups to get to the ‘so tell me about your firm…’ portion of the exchange. Colleagues and friends, both old and new, craved more time to talk about the state of life before talking about the state of work.

Talk the talk, walk the walk. SMPS PRC is all about making opportunities to learn the language of our peers and technical staff. At every session, there were marketers intently scribbling down ‘aha’ moments and key takeaways. No doubt attendees arrived at work on Monday ready to make some informed changes to their approaches!

Colleagues and friends, both old and new, craved more time to talk about the state of life before talking about the state of work.

QR code fever! On the tables, on the PPTs, on the swag, QR codes were everywhere! A hesitancy for ‘high touch’ materials meant a much greater reliance on tech. We’re certainly curious to see what the data reveals about engagement and feedback.

What, no branded masks? Honestly, we were surprised there weren't more PPE-themed swag in the goody bags, but still plenty of fun mementos to take home.

The absolute swag WIN of the 2022 SMPS Pacific Regional Conference: the Coffman Engineers / Cotopaxi fanny pack! Sustainable materials, ethical manufacturing practices, a portion of the proceeds committed to ending global poverty, and available in a spectrum of serotonin-boosting COLORS?! Brilliant, and a resounding thank you to our friends at Coffman.

After nearly two years of hybrid work and interacting virtually with our SMPS Oregon friends, connecting with and learning from fellow marketers in the conference setting was better than we could have imagined. Sessions were insightful, our peers and fellow speakers a delight, and we left energized to share knowledge, greetings, and memorable moments with our team.

See you in sunny San Diego next year, SMPS PRC!


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