Free-and-easy tech for your regional conference

Dear SPJ regional conference director:

So, are you having fun yet?

If you’re like me, you agreed to organize your region’s conference because you wanted to book mind-blowing speakers. But you didn’t realize the job – and it is a job – would bog you down with mind-numbing tech like setting up a website and a PayPal account.

Well, now you don’t have to.

In 2009, I took charge of the Region 3 conference in sunny South Florida. I built a 12-page website in Dreamweaver and set up a PayPal account linked to my chapter’s bank account. What a giant pain in my ass that was.

But now my pain is your gain…


These days, you gotta offer online registration and payment. But setting up a PayPal account is much harder than using one. So here’s some advice: Don’t bother. Use ours.

For our 2009 regional, SPJ South Florida opened a PayPal account. We still have it. We’re offering it to any conference director who’s interested.

We’ll handle the back end and generate reports for you (so you can be assured we’re not ripping you off). Whenever you want, our treasurer will cut you a check for whatever your owed at the moment. You’ll pay the usual PayPal fees, but we won’t charge you anything extra.

Why is SPJ South Florida being so friendly? Well, besides just being nice folk, we have an ulterior motive: We want SPJ National to offer this convenience next year. If we can prove how easy it is, then maybe it happens.

Speaking just for me, I believe the national board and headquarters staff should handle as many of the boring logistics as possible – so our members have more time to do the fun, creative stuff. That’s how you boost both membership and morale.

If you’re interested, email


How cool would it be if your regional conference had a smartphone app just like the national Excellence in Journalism convention did in New Orleans?

A company called Guidebook offers a small-scale mobile app that really works. How do I know? I’ve messed around with it, and I’ve quizzed a company rep at length.

I organize a college media convention in Manhattan, but it’s too big to take advantage of the free app, which limits the number of downloads to 500. But if your conference has less than 500 attendees, this could be perfect. And it’s a breeze to use.

The Guidebook website says the free app was only available till Sept. 30, but I can get that extended for you. If a number of conference organizer desire the app, we can hit up Guidebook together in one fell swoop.

Email me if you’re interested.


Last year, some regional conferences used a free website called Eventbrite to promote themselves and register folks. It’s not a bad way to go. But it’s also not the easiest on the eyes. And it doesn’t give you much room to blog about your amazing events in advance, much less cover what’s happening.

So check out what the Asian American Journalists Association did with an equally free Tumblr site for its national convention this year. If you’ve never tried Tumblr, it’s simple to use and easy to update.

Of course, if you’re working a large regional conference that partners with an active chapter, this isn’t a problem. Check out Region 1, which is the first to have its website go live and really has its shit together – thanks to the Press Club of Long Island. But if you don’t have that kind of support, check out Tumblr or Eventbrite.


The problem with Eventbrite and Tumblr is that the list of all your sessions is confusing if you have them running on tracks – which means two or more sessions are presented at the same time.

Sched takes care of that in a very appealing way.

Basically, Sched makes a color-coordinated flowchart of your sessions. It’s easy to scan, and getting more info is just a click away. Check out what the Texas Tribune Festival looked like. Cool, huh?

Since Sched is free, even the excellent organizers in Region 1 could use it – just plug in the sessions and then link to it from your homepage.

So that’s every pair of shoes in the place. Hope it helps. Any questions, holler.

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  • christopher Linares

    — Name: Christopher Linares

    — City: Los Angeles

    — SPJ Chapter Affiliation (if any): SPJ, RTDNA— From: Cal State University, Northridge

    — E-mail address: CHRISTOPHER LINARES

    — Phone number: 213-245-5052

    — Indicate whether you are male or female: Does not matter

    — Indicate your smoking preference; DOES NOT MATTER

  • Lisa Sahl

    Hi there – I am looking to share a room and coming from NYC…. My phone # is 646-644-7217. I will be coming for the same three nights… I haven’t made my airfare arrangements yet – you can also reach me at I lived in So CA for a decade but am now based in NYC. If you haven’t found someone to room with – I am also looking for someone friendly to hang out with a little bit…. I am not a student; I’m a working professional but looking to jumpstart my career by working for a larger media outlet.

  • Lisa Sahl

    Coming from NYC. Lived in LA for a decade so know my way around. Email: Female. Smoke only721very very occasionally and won’t be doing that in the room. Phone: 646-644-7217. Want to find someone to share a room with. Sept 7 – 10th.

  • Lisa Sahl

    Hi Alicia, If you didn’t find someone I am looking for a roommate at this hotel.

  • Lisa Sahl

    You can reach me at or 646-644-7217

  • Lisa Sahl

    Hi that’s what I’m looking to do. How do you like living in Eugene, OR?

  • Megan Joseph

    Hi! I need a roommate for the conference in either the Marriott or one of the hotels nearby.

    I’m a female student from NJ and I’ll be at the conference on Thursday night.

    Let me know if you need to share a room.

    – Megan

  • Diana

    I’m going to the Convention and need a room for the 7th and 8th as I’m leaving at 12:25 a.m. on the 9th. I tried to book at the hotel but it was booked. So, if anyone wants to share to help reduce their costs I am interested. I do not smoke.
    Diana – 516-848-4867 – I’m with the Long Island PCLI Chapter.

  • Peter Mustafa Jones

    Hey Christopher. Let me know if you’re still looking to share a room.

  • Lisa Sahl

    Hi Diana, I just booked a room with two double beds – and would like to find. a roommate to share the costs. Your schedule is fine with me. I am coming from NYC also. I am a member of the SPJ – You can reach me at 646-644-7217. I will also send you an email. My email is

  • Lauren Davidson

    Lauren Davidson. From Denver, but will be flying in from Kansas City. I don’t smoke. I will be staying 3 nights 7-10. Phone: 303-910-7912 or

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Hello guys, I am Ittefaq coming from Germany to attend this convention and first time ever visiting US. I am looking shared room. I do not smoke.
    004917630163117 my what’s app.
    I know it’s little bit late but I got visa late.
    Thanking you in anti

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Do you still need roommate? I am looking for that.
    Thank you

  • Lisa Sahl

    Yes – I still need a roommate. What days/nights are you coming in? Do you think it’s cool to share male/female? I have had male roommates – but typically had my own room – and my own bathroom.

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Yeah I think it’s cool for me I am ok with that

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Are you using what’s app?

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Should I send you email or will you confirm me here?

  • Lisa Sahl

    Send me an email. Let me know what dates. you are coming in – what time you are coming in – how many nights and other details. We’ll take it from there. I’m on what’s app but I’ve never used it.

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Email sent. Please share what’s app number if you have one.

  • Lisa Sahl

    Ok. I have never used it – so I’m not sure if I know how to use it. But meanwhile I haven’t received your email. Will respond as soon as I do.

  • Lisa Sahl

    I never got the email. My email is

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    Dear Lisa,
    I have sent email twice. It also shows in my sent folder. Can you write me an email now?

  • Lisa Sahl

    I just send an email – Please confirm receipt.

  • Muhammad Ittefaq

    I got the email and replied.
    Thank you

  • Denise Casas

    Hi Silva,
    I am searching for a roommate, I am from the San Gabriel Valley.

  • Denise Casas
  • Valeria RS

    Hi Breanna,

    I sent you an email wondering if this is still an available option from the night of the 6th through the 9th. Thanks a lot!


  • Breanna Molloy

    Hi Valeria! I’m sorry but someone else already requested the room. Good luck! I hope to run into you there!

  • Luis Gomez

    Anyone still looking for a roommate? I still have not made reservations but if you have one and are looking for a good, clean, non-smoker roommate, I’m happy to split costs with you.

    Luis Gomez
    San Diego, CA
    SPJ San Diego
    2nd email:
    Phone: 626-485-5585
    Smoking or non-smoking (no preference)

  • Brianna Bonds

    Hi Megan, also from NJ, need to be there Thursday morning to evening. Planning to room from Wed. evening to Fri. morning. Are you still looking for a roommate?

  • Lisa Sahl

    Muhammed, Are you still looking for a room and open to sharing? I would like to do Friday night or late afternoon through Sunday morning arrangement so that I have privacy while I’m preparing for a few things – as I mentioned I’m interviewing with one of the networks so things will be stressful when I first arrive until late Friday afternoon. That’s two nights of the three. But if you’re interested, you need to get in touch with me so we can coordinate and work things out.

  • Lisa Sahl

    Hi I have a room at the Anaheim Marriott where the convention will be held with two double – beds – perfect for sharing. I’m coming in in the late afternoon on 9/07 and will leave at about noon on 9/10. If anyone out there still is looking for a roommate deal, for two or three of these nights, please contact me. SPJ member NY. I’m coming in from NYC. You can reach me at or at 646-644-7217.

  • Maylan Lamhut Studart

    Hey friends, I posted here earlier, but my friend actually has an additional room to share!! Here’s her message if you need a room !: Hello #EIJ17 attendees! 🤗Anyone looking 4 a room? My hotel provided me w/an extra bed & I’m willing 2share. $80 a night. I have a tiny loving dog that will be staying in the room w/us, so U gotta be cool with that. Hotel is 10mins away from the conference. Text Sasha @ 818.964.3245

  • Sasha Gómez

    Hello #EIJ17 attendees! 🤗 Anyone looking 4 a room? My hotel provided me w/an extra bed & I’m willing 2share. $80 a night. I am here now till the 9th. I have a tiny loving dog that will be staying in the room w/us, so U gotta be cool with that. Hotel is 10mins away from the conference. Text me (Sasha) @ 818.964.3245

  • Melissa Frances

    Does anyone need a last-minute room or roommate? Someone can’t attend so I need to fill a reserved room if possible. Please call: 201-546-0493.


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