Monday, March 23, 2009
It's Alive: What Makes A Conference Thrive?
By Kendall Allen It's one of those weeks I love. SES unfurls in our backyard here in New York; the iMedia Breakthrough Summit is on again down south; OMMA Global takes place in L.A. And while you cannot be everywhere at once, circles converge, friends descend, and it's all just a bit more electric. Professionally, intellectually and socially -- it's connective for the community. As we all reconnect, I'm reminded of roots and the future all at once. As it should be. And, given the turbulent times in progress, I find myself focusing again on what it takes to make a conference as valuable as can be.
I have discussed programming before. It's a passion and pursuit of mine. But, when I really think about assuring the value exchange, I realize it comes down to a few key factors. This is true as consumer, participant and periodic cast member. Here are three general movements I have seen in conferences I frequent, that I immensely respect:
Beyond programming content, there are the the panelists. I often share these thoughts on what I appreciate from cast members themselves. There are several principles that really allow talent and value to come through. The core imperative, of course, is to keep your game fresh. So how can you do that?
We know inherently that complacency is pretty treacherous. But, year after year, in light of any number of distractions, it can happen. In fact, when it comes to content and programming, it certainly is a risk if you confuse best practices with same-old, same-old and tired no-brainers.
During especially heavy conference periods, I find myself focused on what it takes to stimulate a real value exchange. Sometimes, I am disappointed; often I am rewarded. But, as consumers, participants and cast -- we own our roles in the mix. It's chiefly about keeping it real, keeping it current, and keeping channels open. Our best conferences today look and feel like living media: consumer networks with a very audible and timely voice.
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Kendall Allen is headquartered in New York City. She consults for publishers and agencies on integrating digital -- most recently at MKTG, where she just completed a long-term assignment. Previously she was managing director of Incognito Digital, LLC, an independent digital media agency and creative studio. She also held top posts at iCrossing and Fathom Online.
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