At the PMA AGM, held on the opening day of the Specialty Industry Conference in Manly October 31, there was support around the table for the Association to continue down the path of running consumer education events around the country.
The meeting started with reports from the state chairpersons. In once more active states like NSW and Victoria there has been little activity this year, while Queensland, with a northern NSW chairperson in Stephen Perris (Byron Photo Magic), has attracted around 20 members to meetings in March and July. Stephen said there are now around 70 people ‘keeping in touch’.
But most of the meeting was devoted to discussion on the change to a more consumer-oriented focus for PMA, which linked in with the conference tag-line, ‘Moving To The Consumer’
Peter Rose noted that recent events PMA had hosted for the trade had attracted disappointing numbers, while the Educational Photo Expo events in Brisbane and Melbourne had good support from participating retailers, suppliers taking space for table top displays and, more importantly, the paying customers – mostly keen enthusiasts – who attended.
Times have changed, it was more difficult to get industry people involved, said Peter Rose, so ‘the need for an organisation like ours has changed’ – hence the successful experiment in 2014 in engaging retailers customers.
Peter Rose thanked the APCL – the association representing pro labs – for its financial backing in running the first Photo Expos.
The infrastructure supporting future similar events – a website, an online ticket sales facility, and even a low-cost marketing template – had now been developed and was ready to be used for an expanded series of events in 2015. PMA resources, mainly in the form of Barbara Bryan’s time, would likely restrict the number of Photo Expo-type events to four, with perhaps two in regional towns.
Levels of retailer support would be important in deciding which towns would be selected.
Another issue to be decided, added NSW chairperson Mark Alderson, was how to handle retail sales at 2015 Photo Expos. He said it was clear that people wanted to buy photo gear when they attended the events, but how exactly to handle retail sales was yet to be addressed.
There was also discussion regarding what shape next years’ PMA conference would take. With IDEA holding a consumer exhibition at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, (October 16 – 18), combining with that event was one option, but the venue was increasingly expensive and The Digital Show exhibition increasingly consumer-oriented, reducing the appeal of co-locating.
It was also noted that suppliers will be selling off the stands at The Digital Show, making the environment even less appropriate for a retail trade conference.
Another option would be to work towards a combined conference with Camera House and perhaps other groups.
PMA Australia had increased membership by 11 percent in 2013-14, with most of the increase coming from the picture-framers.
Another initiative planned for next year, Peter Rose noted towards the end of the meeting, was the launch of a PMA certification program for passport photos.