MDMC2 Conference Logo

The Midwest Digital Marketing Conference originated at the University of Missouri–St. Louis but was held at St. Louis Union Station from 2016-2019 after outgrowing the space on campus. The COVID-19 pandemic forced it to shift to virtual format last year, and it will remain an online event as it marks its ninth year next week. (Photo by David Morrison)

It takes a tremendous amount of planning and coordination to put on the annual Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, which this year features more than 70 speakers presenting across a four-day schedule and multiple digital channels.

MDMC founder Perry Drake, co-chair of the marketing department in the College of Business Administration at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has long relied on the invaluable support of his students to pull off the event.

Graduate student Oscar Gordillo is one of the many students helping coordinate this year’s conference, which will be held online beginning Monday and running through April 29.

“I am the bridge between speakers and MDMC, I work as their main point of contact” said Gordillo, who serves as the conference’s speaker coordinator. “I also work with the UMSL finance department to create contracts for the speakers. Additionally, I produce the Facebook Live Series for the conference, and I update our website with speaker profiles, bios, sessions, etc. I do a little bit of everything.”

Gordillo and his fellow classmates have been working hard on the last-minute details for the UMSL-produced conference, which last year drew an online audience of more than 4,000 people from across the country. In its ninth year, MDMC has grown from an UMSL on-campus conference to currently the largest digital marketing conference in the Midwest.

This year’s conference will include online masterclasses on topics such as email marketing, branding, social media development and podcast and video production. Speakers include Lynn Fox, a digital tech executive featured on the Netflix documentary “The Social Media Dilemma” and TikTok brand partnerships manager Greg Weingarden.

The conference went to an all-virtual format last year and, with the exception of one small event, will continue to be online this year. Drake said that when the conference was live, about 50 students volunteered, manning the registration tables, assisting attendees and organizing exhibitions. But he said the students that have volunteered this year have been working just as hard. 

“We have students who are handling sponsors, onboarding speakers, getting contracts signed, working with the development team, creating videos, graphic design and social media,” Drake said. “I’ve built my career wanting to do everything I can do to uplift my students, and this conference gives them the ability to network and solidify their professional skills.”

Graduate assistant Katelyn Gierer serves as the sponsorship coordinator, ensuring that the conference received sponsorship funding, and second-year graduate student Kevin Reilly is the video production coordinator. In addition, Aga Blocka and Eboni Valentine provide graphic design and social media support.

Gordillo said that his role as speaker coordinator has been “pretty demanding.”

“I would say that meeting deadlines has been the most challenging by far,” he said. “This is going to be our second year being virtual, where we are offering over 70 on-demand sessions, workshops and two days worth of knowledge. That being said, the recordings and the live speakers need to be ready before the conference starts. In an ideal world, every speaker would submit their presentations on time, respond to my emails, etc. However, that’s not the case for some of them. After all, they are busy executives.”

Despite being busy with his grad studies, Gordillo, a former member of the UMSL men’s soccer team, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to learn more, network and be a representative of UMSL while at the same time participating in something so important.

“I truly enjoy connecting with people and working with the MDMC team is awesome,” Gordillo said. “But the best feeling is to see how successful the conference is. The Midwest Digital Marketing Conference is one of the most important conferences in the nation. People from the biggest brands want to participate. And I want MDMC to be successful because it represents UMSL as well.”

To learn more about the 2021 Midwest Digital Marketing Conference, go to

Ramona Curtis

Ramona Curtis