The Benefits of Conference Blogging

I’m very surprised at Nielson banning blogging and all recording from their most recent conference. Steve Rubel questions is blogging should be banned all together at conferences, he learned from Greg, who questions the irony of no CGM at a Nielsen CGM conference. There’s other conversations on Techmeme on this.
I’m often invited to conferences (at no charge, and sometimes as ‘press’) to blog about the event. I take presentation notes (sometimes at great deal), add my own thoughts, and take pictures to tell the story. This builds an archive and links the community of those who attended, blogged about it, and helps to spread the word about the knowledge gained and learned.

Steve writes the following:

“I see both sides of this issue, but I agree wholeheartedly with Greg. On the one hand if you let bloggers write about a customer conference in detail, there’s little need for anyone to pay to attend. However, on the flip side, if you allowing blogging and people take you up on the offer, it’s highly likely that you will generate excitement that boosts customer attendance next year. This is especially true if the conference, um, is in part about blogging.

For conferences that I wish I did go to, but wasn’t able to attend, I often read what’s written by those who attended via blogs. I can guarantee you I don’t walk away with nearly as much value, information, connection than those that attended would have.

Taking notes and sharing it in public is only one small part of why to attend a conference. The real benefits are making your own observations (not just from the angle of the blogger) the non-verbal communication, and the tremendous amount of networking that happens in person.

For those conference organizers that get blogging and invite bloggers, awesome, you can invite me and I’ll record it for you, (see all my posts tagged ‘conference’ or ‘events’, please note this is only a partial list as I have a previous blog with many events and conferences archived).

For those that ban blogging, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to harness community, word of mouth advertising by using social media tools.

  • Just back from the Conference on Information technology, to which I was invited as a blogger, I absolutely agree with you. Conferences are being held to spread and share knowledge and not to earn money from as an organiser. I was in America on a Dutch delegation of 78 people. All the other people that couldn’t make it appreciated my work and followed the blog. I can understand though that presenters don’t give their PPT’s away since that’s what they earn their money with…

  • Thanks W,

    I don’t get it, if someone speaks something in public at a bar, or at a conference it’s pretty much public information. Often when I speak, I’m asked to provide my PPT for a CD that’s given to all attendees.

    Conference coordinators who embrace that they can let go to let the entire ecosystem they are the hubs of knowledge (in public and in private) will benefit.

  • Its really a matter of looking at the overall experience a person gets from reading a blog post about an event compared to actually participating in the conference. I’ve been reading your blog posts about all the conferences you attend, however, a few months ago I attended my first conference (Carson Summitt)…the experience is COMPLETELY different. Its about experiencing the atmosphere, listening to the speaker on my own, and networking with other people that makes conferences FUN and worthwhile.

  • Chris,

    Great points, you and I see eye to eye on this one. The experiences of being there in person vs reading it over a blog is way different.

    Check out what Scott Carp wrote, It wasn’t totally clear from Steve Rubel’s post that this was a private event (as Scott suggests)
    http://publishing2.com/2006/10/29/can-i-please-blog-your-private-meeting/

    I left the following comment on Scott’s blog

    “Scott

    It wasn’t super clear from Steve Rubel’s post that this was a private event. I left a response on my blog not clearly realizing that. The lines between private events and community knowledge will undoubtly be blurred as knowledge inputted to individuals
    will eventually be outputted to action, whether in blogs or their day jobs.

    Reducing the flow of information can work to some degree, but capping it off completely is difficult.

    Thanks for your input on this.”

    I think this is another one of those gray areas, you can’t fully stop information.

  • Hi Jeremiah,

    Max Kalehoff here from Nielsen BuzzMetrics. Yes, our event was a private, client-only user-group event. Unfortunately, most of the discussion about our request for attendees not to blog missed this important fact. As you note, Steve Rubel failed to indicate this, as well as many others. I guess it would’ve dilluted the otherwise great headline.

    So why? The answer is simple: our paying clients preferred that format, and this was their conference. The agenda, topics, and key questions all flowed from their input – even their desire to tackle issues privately. Importantly, unlike many public media conferences, which seek awareness and ticket sales, this was a no-charge, no-frills gathering of 100 representatives from client organizations who have invested significant time and resources in Nielsen BuzzMetrics services. This was not an event put on for bloggers, but a client user-group meeting, something thousands of companies hold in private everyday. In the end, we achieved deep and stimulating conversation, led primarily by the clients themselves, and putting their interests first was the right thing to do.

    We’ll continue to seek our clients’ input in future client-only events to see if a more fully exposed, “on-the-record” forum makes sense. We want to get it right, and welcome public feedback as well. At the same time, we must honor obligations to confidentiality around client case studies, client information and client wishes…

    I welcome you to read my full post as well as offer any further comment or suggestions. Thanks.

    http://attentionmax.com/blog/2006/10/are_private_conversations_hist.html

  • Banning Conference Blogging is the same as asking people not to talk about the conference. Nielsen has misunderstood why their clients attend. Repeated research on paying conference delegates shows they do not attend for the content. They attend because of the people who are there. In other words, even if all the content of the conference were released in advance, they would still get people paying to attend.

    One other thing, Max says that clients hold private meetings with their suppliers every day. True. But clients also talk with their network of contacts about those meetings – even if the companies don’t want them to. In psychological terms, blogging is just the same. Hence any ban on blogging works AGAINST their clients, not with them.

    Once again, companies like Nielsen appear to fail to understand the way human beings tick. Their clients may tell them one thing, but action is what is important. And the action their clients would like to take is talking (or blogging) about those private meetings. Stopping them doing that will feel like a straight-jacket to them. And eventually they will free themselves from that feeling and depart from Nielsen.

  • Graham

    Excellent thoughts. You’ve really captured why this is a something Nielsen should reconsider for future events.

    Very refreshing to get your opinion, esp with the Psychological aspect.

  • Its really a matter of looking at the overall experience a person gets from reading a blog post about an event compared to actually participating in the conference. I've been reading your blog posts about all the conferences you attend, however, a few months ago I attended my first conference (Carson Summitt)…the experience is COMPLETELY different. Its about experiencing the atmosphere, listening to the speaker on my own, and networking with other people that makes conferences FUN and worthwhile.