Suggestion Box FAQs

FAQ  Tips  Formats  Selection

What happens after I pitch?

ONA has convened a volunteer Program Team comprising media professionals who review every pitch received. This team recommends topics, sessions and speakers to ONA staff and together these groups build a conference program.

Will I be notified about my pitch’s status?

ONA will notify all submitters, whether they are selected or not, before the end of May so that you can register for the conference if you want to participate.

Who can submit a proposal to the ONA21 Suggestion Box?

Anyone! ONA encourages anyone with a professional interest in news media to pitch to the conference. We specifically cater to those involved in digital storytelling strategy and production, audience engagement specialists, news product creators and anyone in leadership or executive roles at news outlets.

I have a great ONA21 topic idea but … it’s all about my company. Can I still submit?

ONA discourages and does not accept proposals promoting a single product, tool or service, but there are plenty of ways to let people know about your awesome work on our sponsorship page.

What makes for a good proposal?

The more specific, the better. A specific proposal demands a lot more planning and thought given to what the audience will get out of the session. In general, ONA organizers are more interested in information-rich pitches, with thoughtful speaker ideas and presentation options, rather than more generic or basic concepts.

How important is diversity in considerations?

ONA is strongly committed to being as inclusive as possible in speaker selection and topic programming. This means supporting diversity in speaker demographics, including gender, ethnicity and race, ability and disability, region and geography and professional background and experience, among other metrics. It also means balancing active versus passive session concepts, programming for people working multiple news focus areas and work roles, attracting ONA conference newcomers and making sure sessions are not dominated by a single organization.

But wait. I work for a company with multiple properties. Can I submit a pitch with a colleague from another sister organization?

Absolutely! We prefer presenters from multiple organizations as it can provide a range of perspectives. If you can meet that goal from within your parent company, that’s great, especially if you are also able to mix people working in multiple mediums and/or regions.

Is it better to submit a panel or another type of session?

Research suggests that 80 percent of conference attendees prefer to be actively engaged in conference sessions. Particularly within ONA’s community of innovators, there’s a real desire to build things, co-create documents and swap ideas. While there will be panel discussions at ONA21, there will also be a wide variety of workshops, collaborative documents and other engaging session types and the more thought given to keeping your audience involved and participating, the better.

What makes for a good title?

Cute titles are really fun! But keep in mind that your title will be fighting for attention with literally hundreds of others. So, the more direct and descriptive you can make it, the better. Attendees will search the conference site for topics and keywords relevant to them and you won’t reach them if your pitched title isn’t easy to find in a quick search.

Do I need to have other speakers confirmed when I submit my session idea?

No, absolutely not. In fact, ONA prefers that you do not confirm other speakers before your pitch is accepted to give staff a chance to ensure there is sufficient diversity and expertise represented. Where needed, ONA staff will work with you to bring on additional speakers.

How does the selection process work?

After reviewing each submission, our programming committee and ONA staff recommend the sessions they believe should make up the core of the conference’s educational programming. Additional topics or speakers are then sometimes added on an invite-only basis to ensure diversity, cover breaking news topics or meet other pressing conference needs.

If my idea is selected, what happens next?

ONA will work closely with you to fine-tune the focus of your session as well as to select additional speakers if needed. As a general rule, the more preparation put in, the better the session turns out. Pre-event preparation means communicating with other speakers weeks ahead of time to clarify the focus of the session and discuss how to keep the audience engaged. ONA attendees are smart people who enjoy smart programming. They will figure it out if you have not fully prepared and will leave your session and go find something more interesting next door.

If my idea is selected, what does ONA pay for?

Invited presenters receive complimentary ONA21 registration which includes access to live sessions, archived sessions, networking events and more.