Travel Portland’s Karen Martwick Plays Her ACES

ACES American Copy Editors Society conference Portland event|ACES American Copy Editors Society conference Portland event
Karen MartwickWhat happened when full-time Travel Portland (Oregon) editor and part-time American Copy Editors Society executive committee member Karen Martwick took on the volunteer role of ACES conference organizer? The organization’s 20th annual event was a (grammatically correct) success, attracting more than 650 attendees to Hilton Portland March 31-April 2. Martwick discusses her tried-and-true tips for being a hybrid editor-planner, her unabashed love for Portland and the importance of clear communication in events. What do you do for Travel Portland? My title is editor/content strategist. I’m responsible for our print materials, including our annual visitors guide, and all of our digital and web content. Travel Portland was one of the earliest CVBs to adopt a fully editorial approach to its annual publication. I came on in 2008 to help make it happen, both for the visitors guide and our convention and meeting planners guide. How did you become the conference organizer for ACES this year? My very first job was assistant meeting planner; it was sort of an administrative assistant job, but I helped organize a major national conference. I moved on and worked in web production and became an online editor. I’ve done that in one form or another for the last 18 years. I’ve been an active member of ACES since 2009 and joined the board in 2012. The former organizer of the conferences stepped off the board, so that role needed to be filled. Did planning the ACES conference give you a new perspective on your role as an editor? I’ve been fortunate that Travel Portland recognizes the value of my being on the ACES board and doing conference planning as career development. There’s no other way I could have gained the experience, understanding what meeting planners are coming up against now, which is a great perspective for me when I look at what content needs to be on Travel Portland’s website for meeting planners. My hyperorganization skills and love of spreadsheets and problem-solving overlap a lot with planning meetings. Why do you think it’s important for planners to be good communicators? You’re serving your delegates best if you’re clear with them as they’re navigating how to get from the airport to the hotel and all of those logistical things. Well-written, clear, grammatically correct and consistent copy conveys trustworthiness. When there are errors and inconsistencies [in your event materials], that opens up the question [for potential attendees]: Do I feel like I’m going to get a worthwhile experience out of this? Do you have advice for planners who find themselves in an editing role? My No. 1 recommendation would be that they come to our national conference. But there are other things. We produce webinars, and in addition to our national conference we do regional boot camps, one-day intensive trainings. They’re designed as a brush-up for people who have some editing skills and need to sharpen their tools, but more so for new copy editors or people finding themselves realizing editing skills would help them in their jobs. I tend to think editing and clear communication skills will help everybody. We all have to handle written communication, even if it’s just in emails. Have you encountered any unique challenges planning for a copy editor conference? There is an extra level of scrutiny. When we’re putting together our program, we triple-check that we don’t have any typos or errors on any printed materials. Errors do still happen, and part of maintaining your sanity as an editor is making peace with that. While our attendees may be a little extra critical, they’re also forgiving because they’ve been on both sides of the equation. [While at the conference] you will see bar menus marked up with red pens and know the editors have been there! But for the most part, it’s done in fun. Did you have a role in selecting Portland as the site this year? I am obviously 100 percent biased. I live here and market [Portland] for a living, and it is a great value for meeting planners. That said, it was nice when we sent out our RFPs the facts backed me up, and Portland was the best value for us. Why should meeting planners consider Portland for an event? We have an amazing culinary scene here. We have hundreds of food carts where you can get international food and [dishes] made with locally grown, organic produce. There’s no sales tax, so shopping is great. If you go into a store or winery, you’re likely to meet the person who made items being sold there. Many people here make careers out of things that would be a weird hobby in another place. There’s something a little bit magical about Portland.