Campaign Summary – the outtathegate presentation

I recently delivered this presentation to the IABC NSW chapter sharing the highlights of this campaign and conference. Enjoy!

Lasting Impressions – IABC World Conference 2009

IABC World Conference 2009 Summary
With the conference over, I’m left with memories that will have to see me through until next year. Call them impressions, themes or highlights, here are my top eight from outtathegate:
1.    Awesome people – to share the energy, the knowledge, the creativity, the experience and the “heart” of the people that organize, attend and present at this conference was both humbling and inspirational. I felt that I was truly in the presence of greatness. Meeting both Robert Swan, OBE and Sir Ken Robinson  proved that.
2.     Ideas, Innovation and Bold Creativity – speakers presented with new ideas and reminded us of timeless ones, we formed our own in reaction to the sessions’ great content and, through collaboration, delegates and speakers alike developed even more. There was no shortage of great ideas generated over these few days. And a new interpretation of the IABC acronym was offered by Sir Ken Robinson  “Innovation and Bold Creativity”While some of us may have left their hearts in San Fran, we made sure to take our ideas home with us.
3.    Technology , web 2.0 and social media – their collective rising importance was evident throughout the session agenda, the conversations over coffee and demonstrated by delegates blogging, tweeting, flickring and FB-ing throughout the four days.  While many communicators still need to play catch up, the popular consensus is that mastery of these tools is now the price of admission for the modern day communicator. We should know (and use) these tools to accomplish strategy, but be ever mindful of “shiny object syndrome”. While it’s important to embrace them, adding these powerful tools to our communication toolkits, it is strategy rather than the newest and coolest technology that should drive our communication efforts.
I don’t know whether it was my expectation of San Francisco as being one of the most wired cities in the world or my own technology practices, but I found that the use of technology was the one area where I was disappointed in IABC this year. As a global association, we need to be a leading example in the adoption and appropriate use of technology and all its great tools in communications. I was disappointed by the wireless access at the hotel, the prevalence of traditional powerpoint presentations, the lack of visible examples of technology within the conference area and at conference events – where were the display screens to view twitter conversations or flickr feeds? Where was the area for audio/video recording your conference feedback on site? Where were the roving IABC reporters with flip cams in hand to capture content for future marketing communications?  There was only a relatively small (albeit vocal) group of attendees, speakers, IABC staff and board members participating in the online conversations during the conference.
Why, given that we are business communicators, did we not see more of these tools used  to create pre-conference buzz? I would love to have seen a promotional video of snippets of the powerful speakers we had delivering keynotes, or an invitation to embrace the social media conversation containing more than just a hash tag (perhaps some tips and hints for doing so). I would have been pleased to have witnessed more tweetups, more use of session track specific nings to store content and promote ongoing dialogue, more use of YouTube to promote speakers and session content on the day’s events.  Where was the live streaming? Did we capture content from sessions for use in future podcasts?
Was it there and I just missed it? Hopefully we’ll see much more of this in Toronto in 2010.
4.    Authenticity – It is more important than ever to be open, honest and transparent in our communications – not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because you’ll get called out on it if you’re not. All the tools are in place to uncover and expose deception and trickery. The availability of these tools and the sheer willingness of people to share have led to a cultural shift and an increase in expectations of authenticity.
5.    Collaboration – doing more with less, technology enabling global conversations and an increasing desire for diversity are all leading to the increase in collaboration – collaborative practices include brainstorming, research, project implementation and support and ongoing education from, and with, each other.
6.    Humour and Fun in the workplace – we saw it in the halls, in the sessions, in the program calendar, in relationships formed at the conference. The incorporation of humour and fun can help differentiate a company culture, strengthen a team, secure a customer for life or pave the way to lasting friendships.
7.    Diversity – diversity in teams, in collaborative efforts, in ideas, backgrounds, approaches, tools, in global best practices – the need for embracing diversity has never been greater and never more prevalent, especially in driving a multi-functional and global communications agenda.
8.    Sustainability – from sustainable cultures that embrace creativity and technology in communication as demonstrated by Best Buy, to creating sustainable inspiration as suggested by Robert Swan, the need to build foundations, campaigns, companies and ideas that last are high on the communications agenda.

Thanks IABC for another great conference. I look forward to returning to Toronto, my home town, for 2010. Between now and then, I’ll be looking for ways to incorporate “Innovation and Bold Creativity” and “sustainable inspiration” into my work and my life.

The Final Hour of Inspiration

When I think of this man, I think …creativity, education, inspiration, change, passion, hope, leadership. He is aptly described as an innovator, advisor, entertainer and advocate. And we were lucky enough to have him giving our closing address. His sincerity and humour, his accomplishments and ideologies inspired, entertained and moved us through this final hour of the IABC World Conference 2009.


Sir Ken Robinson, it was an true honour to sit in the front row and absorb your words, experiencing your wisdom and your well timed wit, but it was a spectacular milestone moment for me to exchange words, shake your hand and have the opportunity to meet a true innovator in arts and education and an authentic advocate for passion.


For more inspirational words from Sir Ken, have a peek on YouTube. Here’s one of my favourites, his TED talk…

Thoughts from a first time delegate

Bryan Person, social media evangelist,  provides some thoughts on his first IABC World Conference

Day 4 Highlights, Wednesday, June 10th

We saved the best for last – today’s highlights:

The session led by Gerard Braud of Braud Communications – it was fun and interactive and served up some powerful messages (a longer post on this later – hint it contains silly string!)

After ages of tweeting, finally meeting Archana Verma, IABC’s Director, Marketing and Communication

A chance to video interview Bryan Person, social media evangelist and a person I’m now proud to call “friend” (not that the tim tams had anything to do with that!)

Heaps of goodbye hugs, well wishes and promises to “see you next year”

A wonderful Toronto video that reminded me what a great city I grew up in and while I don’t live there now, I’ll be happy to anticipate next  year’s conference

A photo op with my new Aussie buddy and fellow communicator, Lee Hopkins

A brief but lovely chat with Barbara Fagan-Smith of Founder and CEO ROI Communications

Hearing, meeting and having my photo taken with my long time hero of inpiration – Sir Ken Robinson

It was a fabulous final official day at the 2009 World Conference.

….there are more posts to come

Greetings from IABC’s 2009 – 2010 Chair, D. Mark Schumann, ABC

Finding the Needle in the Twitter Haystack

A Guest Post from Chris Betcher, from betchablog

With millions of Twitter messages floating through the Twittersphere each day, you can use the search tool at to find references to ANY word that gets uttered there.

So a search for the word “dog” will find every tweet that contains the word dog, and so on.  You can even search for your own twittername and see any time your name is referenced online.  Many companies now use this search feature to find out whenever anyone mentions their products or services on Twitter.

The search tool for Twitter is really quite powerful, and can also be used to generate RSS feeds that can then be embedded into other pages and services.  There is some awesome potential there.

However, Twitter’s ability to search for words being mentioned out there becomes less useful when you search for a really common word, since the search results will invariably turn up lots of stuff you probably don’t want.

When you’re attending a conference for example, you could find every mention that people make about the event by searching for the conference name.  However, it wouldn’t be all that helpful just to do a search on the term “conference” since it would catch all the other possible mentions of the word “conference” from a bunch of other conferences you don’t want. Using the full name of the conference would probably work, but because Twitter limits you to only 140 characters, it would be silly to devote so many of them to including the conference name… there would be little room left for the actual message!

To get around this problem, Twitter users came up with the idea of using a hashtag. By adding a # in front of a search term. It’s a way to trick Twitter Search into avoiding any results that might contain the keyword but don’t have the hash in front of them.

For conferences, there will generally be a designated hashtag containing a # symbol and an abbreviation for the event. People attending and Twittering from the event can include this short code at the end of each tweet, and then a search (and also an RSS feed) can be created to grab a feed of all the tweets that contain the hashtag, regardless of who they come from. This let’s people follow the conference Tweets in a single stream.

What if the conference has an unusual name already?  A search for a conference abbreviated to “educonf” would probably find most of the references to it fairly easily, since educonf is a kind of “made up” word already.  In this case, a search for the generic term “educonf” or the properly hashtagged “#educonf” would probably turn up pretty much the exact same results.

The real need for the hashtag arises when you have search terms based on regular English words that are ambiguous to the search.  The added # to the front of them makes them unique and helps them stand out from the generic non-hashed word and stops the generic words from getting caught up in the hashtagged feed.  It also carries the added bonus that many 3rd party Twitter clients such as Tweetdeck, Tweetie or Nambu can identify the hashtags and use them to create saved searches, making it much easier to follow the stream based on that tag. A hint about hashtags, keep them short – they are included in the tweet’s 140 character maximum.

Interestingly, the search feature was never a part of Twitter’s original functionality.  Twitter search was done with a third-party tool created by a company called Summize, but the huge potential (and possibilities for future monetization of Twitter) became immediately obvious and Summize was acquired by Twitter for about $15M almost a year ago.  Now the built-in search functionality is a key part of the Twitter experience, and hashtags play an important role in making that experience even more powerful.

CC Image: ‘Haystack Owl‘

PS – two hashtags of note for the IABC World Conference – #IABC09 and #OTG (for outtathegate)