Participating in this three-day conference has been a valuable experience, both from being a speaker and a delegate.
Yesterday I hosted my workshop (described as a think tank in the conference catalogue). Entitled Conversations, influence and you: A journey through the blogosphere, the 90-minute session introduced new communication technologies such as blogs, RSS and wikis, with the kind of background information as a scene-setter that most business bloggers are familiar with as a lead-in to a focus on four key strategic communication areas for organizations, especially monitoring blogs. Email me if you’d like a PDF copy of the scene-setter presentation (which, incidentally, didn’t include the participation of my co-presenter, Stuart Smith, CEO of Edelman London, who at the last minute was unable to make it to the conference).
Every time I do this type of scene-setting presentation and discussion with UK communicators, I have to always remember that even base-level awareness of these new communication channels is still awfully low compared to the US (obviously) and France, the latter clearly the awareness-leader in Europe. No one here, for instance, that I spoke to had heard of the Business Week cover story on blogs last month, nor about any other recent business-media reporting about blogs from the business perspective.
The good news on board the Oriana, though, is that this will be a massively hot topic for many senior communicators – especially blogs – in the UK as it sparked considerable interest not only among the participants in yesterday’s session but also in informal conversations I’ve subsequently had with a number of people. So if many of the senior communicators here are any indicator, there’s a new hope for UK organizations!
I’ve also participated in some of the other speakers’ workshops and sessions over the past few days.
Two in particular have really struck a chord with me – a workshop this morning on corporate social responsibility, led by Adrian Payne, Head of Corporate Social and Regulatory Affairs at British-American Tobacco, and Glenn Manoff, Communications Director at 02 UK; and a seminar this afternoon on communication measurement led by Chris Genasi, President of the CIPR, Jon White of Henley Management College, and Dominic Cheetham, Corporate Communications Director at Serco.
Both of these sessions have provoked some ongoing thinking on my part with regard to the role new communication technologies must play in overall communication regarding corporate responsibility (I’m dropping the word ‘social’) and in the re-thinking of how the effectiveness of communication is measured. This isn’t the moment to make concise casual comments about these topics: I will be posting more next week.
So as we wrap up an excellent learning and participation event – I have one more workshop to attend a bit later – and as the ship prepares to sail back to Southampton overnight, my final thought turns to the facilities on board this cruise liner. It is a fabulous experience. Well-appointed cabins (I have a window on the starboard side), outstanding facilities everywhere, great service by the ship’s crew, shops, great restaurants, bars, entertainment, satellite internet, etc. It is a cruise liner, after all. But a great venue for an event like this. The audio-visual facilities for the workshops, etc, really are state-of-the-art, with enormous flat-panel displays for the sessions.
Very well done indeed. Richmond Events, the organizers, have done a terrific job.