PMT Publishing Expands Event Planning Services

Annual events now include the Southern Automotive Conference, Best Companies to Work For, Manufacturing Safety Awards and Inspiration Homes.

Sheila Wardy at the Inspiration Home event in Fairhope. Photo by Chad Riley

PMT Events, the meeting and event planning arm of PMT Publishing, is branching out from primarily overseeing productions related to PMT magazines to managing and marketing other organizations’ meetings and events.

The event division has a history of success with a variety of special productions related to its Business Alabama, Southern Automotive Alliance, Birmingham Home & Garden and Mobile Bay magazines.

“We naturally grew out of PMT Publishing’s efforts to best serve its various audiences over the years,” says Sheila Wardy, media and events director for PMT Events.

Wardy first joined PMT’s advertising department in 2001, following an exciting 12-year stint in radio promotions and marketing. “We did the craziest things to get attention, and the most outrageous stunts really worked. People loved them,” Wardy says. “The experience taught me to think outside of the box. Often that’s where the best solution to a big challenge lies.”

After a short stint in ad sales for another firm, she came back to PMT to develop its event planning service. Since 2017, PMT Events has planned and staged the annual meetings of the Southern Automotive Manufacturers Alliance (SAMA), the statewide auto industry groups from six Southern states. The first three Southern Automotive Conferences were in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

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Wardy’s team is currently putting together the 2020 Southern Automotive Conference, to be held October 7-9 at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi, and has put a bid in for the 2021 conference in Birmingham. “We have no problem shifting gears to work with whatever location an event host desires,” Wardy says.

Ron Davis, president of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association and incoming 2020 president of SAMA, says his group’s collaboration with PMT has been extremely beneficial. “We appreciate the professionalism of PMT and the continuity our work with them has created. We’ve been able to take advantage of lessons learned each year to make the conference better and better,” he says.

The Southern Automotive Conference has grown over the years to include more than 200 exhibitors and 1,200 attendees from the region and across the globe. Sponsors appreciate a variety of innovative opportunities to interact with exhibitors and attendees, Wardy says. “We try to do more every year, including creating the opportunity for students, the automotive leaders and workers of tomorrow, to get involved.”

PMT Publishing covers regional automotive news, including that of SAMA and its six associations, as well as manufacturers and suppliers, through its Southern Automotive Alliance magazine. “Our various publications give us many opportunities for marketing and education in association with the meetings and events we plan,” Wardy says.

Another part of PMT’s success with events, Wardy says, comes from its dedication to finding the best professional services providers and working with them on an ongoing basis. “You don’t want to be limited by providers that are just ‘so, so,’ because that can cause your event to be lackluster and less well received,” she says.

Wardy gives the example of her group’s association with Atlanta Pro AV, a highly regarded regional audio-visual company with a specialty in major event production. “We have grown to have ever greater respect and trust for their organization. They make us look good,” Wardy says. “They are the kind of service provider we seek out.”

PMT Events also manages the publishing company’s popular “Best Companies to Work for In Alabama” competition, in association with its Business Alabama publication, and the “Manufacturers Safety Awards,” in conjunction with both that publication and the Business Council of Alabama. “We have the ability and mission to get the word out and educate our audience about the best of the best in business,” Wardy says.

PMT’s lifestyle-publication related “Inspiration Home” events are also organized by Wardy’s team. The four-week luxury home show, associated with both Birmingham Home & Garden and Mobile Bay magazines, draws top vendors and designers, Wardy says, and is a coveted sponsorship opportunity. “It’s a wonderful time for building and design professionals and suppliers to show off their talents, as well as for visitors to see the latest and greatest in new technology, design and materials in desirable community settings.”

The most recent “Inspiration Home,” located in Van Antwerp Park in Fairhope, was on display this past December 12 through January 5. The architect/developer for the project was Walcott Adams Verneuille of Fairhope and the builder Tom Bierster Fine Home Building & Renovation Inc.

The event has caught the eye of a number of other magazine publishers. “The Inspiration Homes have become so well received and popular that other publications across the country are licensing the Inspiration Home concept so they can offer value to their audiences as well,” Wardy says. “Publishers today see the importance of diversifying their offerings to keep their business growing and healthy.”

Now that PMT Events has garnered significant experience organizing its publishing company’s events and SAMA’s annual conferences, Wardy says it’s time to extend the division’s reach and leverage its business opportunities. “PMT has a broad base of resources and skills. We want to offer other organizations the opportunity to use our wide-ranging event planning and marketing talents,” she says.

Kathy Hagood is a freelance contributor to Business Alabama. She is based in Homewood.

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