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.