I spoke recently at Melcrum’s 2006 Strategic Management Communication Summit in London. It was a thrill, of course, to be asked to fly across the pond and dispense a bit of wisdom (or practicality, as that’s more my style) about corporate blogging.

In the UK, conference goers listen politely and take notes

I was fascinated by the difference between conference attendees in the UK and the US. In a word, conference goers in the UK are *polite.* Not a single laptop (with one exception) was open in the crowd of several hundred at the Millenium Gloucester (I loved this hotel) on Wednesday Oct. 18th. And this despite easy access to wireless Internet.

No one was tapping away on a keyboard (ostensibly taking notes but in reality checking email). In fact, no one even seemed to be looking at their Blackberry or Treo. Heavens!

Victoria_mellor_robin_crumbyLater, I met with
Victoria Mellor, at left, and Robin Crumby, founders of Melcrum Publishing, in their London offices. Thanks guys for the great Japanese lunch around the corner.

Instead, the attendees, who were mainly senior-level corporate and internal communications managers at brands like HP, IKEA, Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, Cadbury Schweppes, PricewaterHouse Coopers, etc., were taking notes, listening carefully and otherwise paying attention!

OK, I admit I was itching to live blog the event

But I have to come clean. The whole thing felt very weird to me. I was itching to live blog some of the speakers. (Those tidbits later… if I can dig out my notes. Alas, my moment of inspiration may have passed.)

Nielsen BuzzMetrics bans conference blogging

Contrast this with the hue and cry over Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ ban on live blogging during their recent clients-only CGM (consumer generated media) summit. A CGM extravaganza and no blogging allowed? Apparently it drove some attendees wild. Update: see clarification from Nielsen BuzzMetrics’ Pete Blackshaw.

My take on it is that there should be some in-between space. Perhaps some sessions where no laptops are allowed and others where attendees are encouraged to record, comment and blog during the event. I know that as much as I’d like to think I can multi-task, I really can’t listen, absorb, type, surf, edit and post simultaneously.

Forrester sets up an official conference blog

Another approach is to hire offer gratis admission to conference bloggers as Forrester Research did for their recent Consumer Forum. As I point out in chapter 4 of The Corporate Blogging Book, this is a highly effective way to promote your event. Your conference blog lives on and serves to promote your next event.

Useful Links

Should conferences ban blogging? – Steve Rubel on Micro Persuasion

Getting It Right: Forrester Consumer Forum and Conference Blogging – Marianne Richmond