Tag Archives: event

Nowt so Queer as Folk…

…As they say in Yorkshire and today that seemed to be irrefutably proven as (and at the risk of sounding all Fleet Street) the preparation for our forthcoming social media event took a dramatic and unexpected turn!

Tensions have clearly been building in the team. I think this was more the result of a clash of personalities that has intensified in the context of

a. working within a small group; and

b. having a reasonably short deadline for delivery.

However today it became clear that this combination had taken its toll and sadly tensions boiled over…

In my role as chair of the group and as a sincere attempt to head off this very situation I had suggested an informal chat over coffee for anyone with concerns about how the project was progressing. The idea was to get any differences of opinion out in the open so that they could be discussed rationally. Having spent my entire working life in fairy high pressured environments I honestly thought today would be pretty straightforward. After all, we all have the same goal.

However, the ‘out in the open’ part of my plan, as it turned out, was the only thing that worked and my idea of a ‘friendly chat between like-minded individuals’ descended into a slanging match that would have made Jeremy Kyle blush. I can honestly say (now at the risk of sounding like my parents!) that in all my years I have never seen anything like this (apart from that one time that I did accidentally see an episode of the Jeremy Kyle show).

I’ve organised numerous events during various roles throughout my career, and for thousands of people, with all kinds of unknown variables and risks – technology failure, people not showing, guests disappearing when they were due on stage and even one time where I launched a new service for a very high-profile client, whilst at the same time as fighting off a hostile takeover of the business where the buyers planned to asset strip the company (now there’s a story!). In all that time I have never known the thing to go wrong, the weak link in the chain, to be the people whose responsibility it was to make something a success. I guess, looking back, I’ve always been lucky to work alongside committed people able to put aside any personal differences they might have had for the good of the team and to just get on with the job at hand.

So today has been a valuable lesson and the first serious test in my short leadership of this particular project.

Once again I’ve been fortunate –the team response has been fantastic and whilst today has left a big hole in terms of what, at the moment appears to be the loss of a team-member and their own unique perspective, and therefore an increased workload for everyone, I think events have galvanised us and given everyone a renewed sense of purpose. What is it they say, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

I guess you could say, all in all, it’s turned out nice again, hasn’t it?


Vorsprung durch Technik…

…as they say in Germany, but as our MA Social Media group met today for the second time to discuss the planning around our forthcoming event it was less ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ and more ‘Vorsprung durch Kaffee, Kuchen und Unterhaltung’ (advancement through good, old-fashioned coffee, cake and chat).

Having been nominated to chair the group (an honour or a poisoned chalice? –the jury’s out) I felt we generally needed a bit more urgency in decision-making. We’ve had a tendency to get stuck in circular discussions which has sometimes felt a bit like herding cats and today really could have gone either way.

However, I am pleasantly surprised at the progress we seem to be making. Our brief is fairly simple – put on a social media event, decide a format, promote it, run it and then report back on it – but when you consider that between our group we represent seven countries and a fairly broad age and experience range, all of a sudden the task isn’t quite as straightforward.

After some initial revisiting of previous decisions followed by a spot of ‘speed-democracy decision-making’ we now have a format – the event will feature a series of keynotes followed by smaller discussion groups around the themes of:

  • We Tweet – I Tweet – an exploration of how Twitter can be useful in a wide variety of situations from mobilising a community to marketing a product;
  • Our Stories, Our Lives, Our Truths – a look at the role of storytelling and the relationships between mainstream and social media.

Just need a venue and some key speakers to attract the punters, a bit of publicity and we’re there!

There really is no substitution for getting round a table, chewing the fat and making some decisions. Ironic really, considering the event will be all around the use of digital tools but then again it does underline the symbiotic relationship between on and offline working.

If things continue to go this well I may consider offering my services to the UN…

Begin with the End in Mind

For anyone that is familiar with Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, habit two suggests “Begin with the End in Mind.” This is particularly pertinent to an effective social media strategy as well as planning a social media event.

Along with my fellow MA Social Media students, one of our current tasks is to put on such an event and build a strategy that promotes it. In both cases the end could refer to the end-user or in simpler terms, the audience. Yet we are already in danger of becoming fixated on a theme for the event without considering who the audience for any given theme could potentially be.

We should first seek to understand the audience we are looking to target, how/if we can reach them and after considering all that, whether they can be persuaded to come along and participate. By starting with this in mind and working backwards, the strategy should at least ensure that we are not setting ourselves up to fail.

To use one of our potential themes as an example…

Current events in Egypt and the role of social media.

The difficulty of a theme like this is that, as an object of study it is extremely broad. For the context of what we need to achieve it needs to be framed within a much more specific focus. For example, is the perspective democratic change, public order or government control (or lack of it), all of which may have a slightly different appeal to a variety of audiences.

And what of those audiences? Who is likely to attend an event on these subjects? For instance, democratic change could be a subject that would interest a broad range of people from political activists to local government personnel but should the event use the Egyptian example to illustrate the point rather than it being the point in itself?

For me there needs to be a consideration of a specific aspect of such a theme linked to a strategy for appealing to a particular (and accessible) audience.

There is, of course, a wider question or indeed a different ‘end’ that we should consider, and that is the academic assessment that will follow. Ultimately this is the goal and one argument is that success or failure of the event is irrelevant providing there is the opportunity for an academic analysis of it.

For this reason I think we need to be a bit more focussed, even ruthless in terms of choosing something specific enough to allow that sharp focus. We should set out to clearly define an audience that is accessible and plan how we can best engage them. Whilst a big global issue would undoubtedly make for an interesting study, does it also lend itself to achieving our academic and professional goals? If we can solve the audience question, agree what the ‘end’ is, only then will we be in a position to answer that.