Mashing up the New PR

Well over 150 communicators participated in Delivering The New PR, the one-day conference in London last Friday organized by Philip Young at the University of Sunderland.

I took this photo in the conference room at the hotel as we were about to start. Packed, but it’s only half of who was there – the photo doesn’t include a similar number of people sitting to the right of the photo area.

At the start of the day, Tom Murphy and I held a pre-conference ‘Blogging 101’ session to help anyone get up to speed if they felt a little behind in their knowledge of what blogs, etc, are and where they fit in the business context. Over a third of all participants came to that session.

I’m reasonably confident that the evaluations from participants will show that all the presenters – Philip Young, Chris Rushton, Tom Murphy, Elizabeth Albrycht (and I suppose I ought to include myself, Neville Hobson) – did a pretty good job in engaging everyone. We did miss one of our colleagues, Stuart Bruce, who had a family emergency which prevented him from traveling down to London from Leeds (and thankfully, the news from Stuart today is that things are ok). So Philip, Tom and I mashed up Stuart’s presentation on business blogging which, judging by the applause at the end of it, we delivered in an entertaining fashion at least.

As with the two previous conferences in this series – in Manchester in February and in Sunderland last November – just about everyone was still there at the end. A good indicator that people found the event pretty compelling was that there was very little early slipping away which you tend to see at most business conferences. Especially ones held in central London on a Friday.

I find it very exciting indeed that these conferences attract so much interest from communicators in the UK. Not only to be there and listen – everyone asks so many questions. You see people scribbling away (interesting: hardly anyone with laptops) and in the breaks the conversation hubbub is deafening.

This is not the type of conference about social media where, with some other such events, the focus is too much on the ‘celebrity blogger’ presenters who spend so much of their time dropping the names of all the cool folks they know in the American blogosphere. Not a single such name in that context was spoken by anyone on Friday.

During the lunch break, I recorded conversations with five of the participants and I’ve produced a 20-minute podcast (links below) for the University of those conversations. Listen to these communicators as they speak about what they think about social media and public relations, why they wanted to be at ‘Delivering The New PR,’ and what they intend to get out of their participation.

Philip has posted some great commentary on the event, including London: The Movie, a terrific 5-minute Photo Story 3 video mashup on You Tube. It includes some of the audio from the podcast.

I’m certain the opinions of most people who participated – not only those intereviewed in the podcast – reflect the thoughts of many in the PR profession in the UK who want to figure out this blogging, podcasting and RSS thing in the context of PR and who are looking for the right place to get answers.

A word about Don’t Panic Projects, the organizers of these conferences. Tremendous work led by Nicky Wake. Everything that should have happened, did, all of it seamlessly and without fuss. If you need a reliable and imaginative event organizer, look no further. And they understand social media – visit their blog.

Finally, if you’re a communicator who’s looking for answers about social media and you couldn’t get to London last Friday, here’s some good news – more ‘Delivering The New PR’ one-day conferences are in the planning pipeline, so stay tuned.