The EuroBlog 2008 conference in Brussels, which ended on Saturday, brought together about 100 people from the worlds of PR academia and PR practice from across Europe and from the USA.
The event was billed as "Social media and the future of PR: New ideas, new research, new business" and featured a number of presentations on academic research findings as well as plenty of keynote deliveries and panel discussion.
A recipe for collision, you might think, given the very different approaches historically to the broad topic of public relations from two such distinct groups.
Far from it, in fact. During almost three days of discussion and connecting, my perception (and actual experience) was that, largely, there was a clear meeting of minds about how PR could and should evolve in a social media world. Some differences in precisely who needs to do what and how, but more broad agreement than disagreement.
All the sessions were recorded, and edited audio and video will be made available soon, later this week perhaps, along with some of the presentation materials. Keep an eye on the EuroBlog 2008 blog for information (best move: subscribe to the RSS feed).
I may post some more commentary once I’ve seen those recordings.
Some of the participants have already posted some of their impressions about the event. Ones I’ve seen so far as tracked by Technorati include posts by Kris Hoet, Martin Oetting, Thomas Pleil, and Richard Bailey.
For me, it was a great pleasure finally meeting so many people I’d been connected with through social media, many over the past few years. I’ve met Martin and Thomas before but met Kris and Richard for the first time.
And speaking of Rick, we recorded a brief video interview on Saturday morning, just before the start of the final sessions. I’ll be posting that as an FIR Interview – the first FIR video interview, in fact. It should be up tomorrow.
Quite a few folk took photos; you can track all posted photos with the euroblog2008 tag at Flickr.
Thinking further about the conference, one aspect struck my mind – how technology enabled anyone at the event to connect with anyone else not at the event.
Two social tech tools in particular played a big role in making this conference one that enabled a far bigger audience to participate, some of it in real time as things happened.
There were CoverItLive sessions throughout the conference with a variety of participants taking part in live blogging.
While the connectivity from the conference venue wasn’t that hot for this much of the time, it still worked and enabled people elsewhere to follow events and ask questions and make comments, providing those live blogging with an opportunity to respond in the CoverItLive content stream.
And of course, there was Twitter.
This was rapid, open and instant opinion-sharing. Quite a number of people there were twittering throughout the event (including me), sharing a steady stream of thoughts and opinion with their own groups of followers.
It enabled people elsewhere to get a glimpse of some of what was going on in Brussels. It also enabled those twitterers in Brussels to engage in some thought exchanges with other twitterers in Brussels as topics were being discussed or presented, and which those elsewhere could also see and comment on.
It made for some lively backchannel discussion. It also expanded the scope of the conference, as CoverItLive also did, but with one major added dimension – people elsewhere could quickly and spontaneously ask a question which could instantly be included in a panel discussion.
This happened a number of times where one of Philippe Borremans‘ Twitter followers in New Zealand did just that.
Not everyone is comfortable with tools like these. Indeed, there is some usage etiquette that those who do Twitter at events need to be mindful of (such as not typing too loud, one of my little failings).
Still, I believe social tech tools like CoverItLive and Twitter add real value to a live event, bringing as they do additional voices and opinion into the equation.
It’s something we will see more of in the future.
Most apt at EuroBlog 2008, given the overall focus of the event.