Imagination and the New PR

One of the great things about being part of a series of conferences that addresses social media and PR is the learning you see happening over time.

Delivering The New PR‘ in Edinburgh, Scotland, last Wednesday was a very good example of how awareness of social media is definitely on the rise in the UK amongst communicators.

It was a full house, as we’ve seen in each of the previous events in this conference series in Sunderland, Manchester and London. Communicators really do want to find out about blogs, podcasts and social networks and how to make sense of these social media in the context of their organizations’ or their clients’ business needs.

It’s not so much finding out what blogs, podcasts, etc, are – everyone broadly knows that now. That’s one of the big signs of progress compared to when we did the first conference in Sunderland last November.

What communicators really want to know is how to use these social tools. How to find out who’s talking about their brands or their clients and the effects on reputations. How to include them within their communication planning and use them as complementary communication channels and tools.

Another great thing is how events like this can be genuine ideas exchanges. So not only the presenters telling everyone about cool new things and how to use them, but also some imaginative ideas expressed by the participants which feed back some knowledge for the presenters.

The Edinburgh team (click for larger image)This photo of the presenters (left to right: Philip Young, Stuart Bruce, Tom Murphy, Elizabeth Albrycht and me, Neville Hobson – click for larger image) in the final discussion segment illustrates the moment when we heard from William Ancell about one imaginative idea he has for a podcast. William’s involved with At Sea (aka the Captain’s Blog), the thoughts of a trawlerman and life at sea, which promotes the Sea Fish Industry Authority.

It’s the fishing industry. So William’s idea is… a codcast! A catchy and media-friendly name. If the content and delivery are good, it could become a great success. (One of the podcast clips I played in my presentation on podcasting was from the West Midlands Police Recruitment. That one’s called… a plodcast!)

You can hear what some of the participants think about social media and PR in a conversation I had with four of them during the lunch break at the conference. I posted that podcast yesterday.

You can also hear what some of the presenters think about the event and what people may have gained from their participation. After the conclusion of the conference, Philip, Stuart, Tom and I retired to the bar for an informal chat. Download or listen to that conversation below. Elizabeth has posted her impressions (and also has a call to action on research she’s doing – see if you can help her).

If you want to see a perspective on the event from an organizer’s point of view, read what Andy Wake has to say. Andy and Nicky Wake run Don’t Panic Projects and they have skillfully, seamlessly and successfully organized all the conferences in this series on behalf of the University of Sunderland.

Still more to come – we’re planning on a fifth conference in November, in London again.

We want to release more imagination.