I’m a huge fan of the TED conferences. I find much of their content inspiring and I’m happy to spread the word by tweeting and blogging with links to their presentations. That’s good for TED as it helps increase their brand awareness and demand for their tickets.
My experience is that most conferences are not like TED.
Many conferences operate with the old school mentality that little or nothing is shared outside of the event. Of course, this reduces the potential impact of a conference’s marketing, sustainability and ultimate value. The opposite of the TED strategy.
Furthermore, (and this a pet peeve of mine) many speakers at many conferences think it’s ok to give sales pitches when the audience has paid (with their time and/or money) to gain insights. Except for talks explicitly centered around a company’s products or services and excusing a brief introduction that can include an elevator pitch, speakers at conferences are there as “knowledge brokers” first and company representatives second.
Our industry – whether that’s Place-Based Networks, DOOH, OOH, Location-Based Services, Digital Signage, Narrowcasting… is moving so fast we need more openness and sharing of best practices at conferences rather than sales pitches.
I’d like to promote the following three guiding principals in the interests of getting better and more valuable conferences.
1. Conference collateral (e.g. presentations, papers, videos) should be freely available and spreadable. I use Slideshare. You can find my conference presentations here and various other documents (white papers and articles) here. This is neither difficult nor expensive to implement.
2. Conferences should be as connected as possible. 1. Don’t ban or charge extortionate sums for WiFi! 2. Have real-time streams displayed on screens and websites displaying conference messages, related hash-tags and checkins. This helps promote and extend a conference’s impact and could even be up-sold to sponsors. Again, it’s easy and inexpensive and can more than pay for itself in terms of marketing and enhanced user experience.
3. Conference speakers should not be allowed to pitch on a stage set up to help educate, engage or entertain. Maybe a brave conference organizer could use a gong on stage – if a speaker pitches, they get gonged. That will definitely stop pitches!
I’m speaking at the following conferences in the coming weeks (and am happy to connect with you at any of those events or via email at srandall at locamoda dot com or via twitter stephenrandall):
- Geoworld Summit, May 12th 2011, Brooklyn, NYC
- ScreenMedia Expo 2011, May 18-19th, Earls Court, London
- Digital Signage Forum, May 24th Sydney
- Digital Signage Forum, May 26th Melbourne
- Digital Signage Forum, May 31st Auckland
I believe I walk the walk as well as talk the talk – so by all means, heckle me if you don’t agree!
Tags: connectivity, Content is king, Digital Out-of-Home, digital signage, Digital Signage Expo, DOOH, Facebook, foursquare, google, Interactive, LBS, LocaModa, Location, location-based, mobile, mobile marketing, moderation, place based, place-based social media, Place-Based Social Networks, smart phone, Social, social layer, Social Media, Social Networks, Stephen Randall, twitter, user-generated content