Friday, February 17, 2012

Information Services

Spotlight on... Info Services!

The primary purpose of the Division of Information Services at Pennsic is to keep on top of all the ways we can get information to all those who attend Pennsic. Whether it is how to sign up to teach a class, or where and what the battles will be, or who to ask for advice about the weather, Pennsic Info is on top of it. Most of you know about Information Point and the Town Criers at Pennsic, but there are also a number of behind the scenes functions that go on in the Info Division all year long--such as Media Relations, the Website, Publications, and our newest department, Social Media.

At Pennsic the most visible component of Info Services is Information Point which is located across from the Camp Store in a big tent called "Town Hall." There you will find helpful volunteers who can direct you to any location on site, give you the schedule of events, help you find registered group camps, kingdom camps, and merchants on site, and even help you find local offsite businesses for anything you might need. Info Point staff also answers the emergency Pennsic phone number (which is only active during the War) through which folks at home can leave messages for Pennsic goers. This number is intended for emergency calls, and only in the case of serious emergencies at home will Pennsic staff track down attendees to deliver the message.  As you go past Info Point, however, be sure to check the Message Board out front for your name, which will be posted if a non-emergency message comes through the Pennsic number. Messages will never be given to anyone but the person for whom they are intended. Info point is generally open from 8am to 8pm during War, and if they do not have the answer to your question, they will find it for you.

The Town Criers are also located in the Town Hall and are responsible for the daily announcements sheets that are posted on the message boards (usually at major crossroads, bus stops, and restroom facilities) all over the site. These announcement pages are a good way to find out what Known World events are happening each day as well as upcoming Performing Arts events, and about any emergency information that needs to be shared on site. The Town Criers are also responsible for the folks who cry announcements through the merchant, food, and service point areas throughout the day. If you have a good voice and like to wander the busiest areas of Pennsic come volunteer a for a shift as a Town Crier.

Media Relations is a department most people will never see at Pennsic, but is a critical one for the relationship of Pennsic to local and regional communities. As you might imagine, Pennsic stirs up a great deal of interest among the neighboring populations of Western PA, and it falls to the Media Officer to handle requests from and escort all news teams that want to come in to interview or film onsite. Press releases, permissions to film or photograph for publication, and any non-SCAdian publications material about Pennsic all falls under the guidance of Media Relations.

The Pennsic website has for years been the official source of information about Pennsic during the majority of the year (that fifty week town-run from mid-August to late July). The website (at for the next Pennsic is usually activated around the first of the year and is updated as new activities and events are added; and it stays live with the final statistics about Pennsic from September until the next year's pages go live. Two cool paces to check out on the website are the Staff Directory, so you know who to contact when you have a question, and the FAQ pages, which have a lot of good information on just about anything you might need to know to go to Pennsic.  And did you know you can also find information on many previous Pennsics by visiting the archives?--just add "/penn" and the year number to get the stats on previous wars. (For instance here is the info on Pennsic 38: Don't forget to keep checking the announcements and deadlines on the main Pennsic page as well.

The Publications Department handles the production of the Pennsic Site Book. It involves a year long collation of information from the various Pennsic departments, from the Crowns of all kingdoms, and from activities schedulers, as well as finding artists and art, and handling design, layout, copy-editing and proofreading of the book. All that work and yet by the time the Pennsic book goes to press there are almost alway changes, addition and deletions to the schedules. Fortunately the Publications, Website, Social Media, and Info Point staff work together and always do their utmost to get corrections to Info Point and online for public dissemination.

One of the best things about our newest department, Social Media, is that it give Pennsic staff the ability to get changes in event information out to people on a very timely basis. Social Media includes an official Facebook site for announcements as well as a Twitter feed for up to date info all year long as well as at Pennsic. You can view these mini-announcements on the Pennsic website or you can subscribe/follow either of these feeds to get all announcements send to your own smart phone even during Pennsic. The Social Media officer also works with the Pennsic Mayor to make this very blog happen.

Please take time at Pennsic War to stop by the Town Hall and meet the Info Services staff. We'd love to have you volunteer for a shift, leave us a suggestion or comment about Pennsic, ask us a question, or just simply say hello.

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