Posts Tagged ‘events’

Five Reasons You Should Go To The Next Third Tuesday Toronto

I just had a conversation with my old boss Joe Thornley about how excited I and a few others on the Edelman Toronto team are about the upcoming Third Tuesday Toronto event with Ontario’s Ombudsman Andre Marin.

Joe suggested I blog about the event; I thought I’d go one better and give you five reasons why, if you’re in Toronto on June 21, you should go to this event.

1. Get the perspective of an early public sector adopter of social media

I remember a couple of years ago, when Marin first discovered social media through a member of his communications staff. For a while, his Twitter account (@Ont_Ombudsman) was (transparently) manned by a member of his staff, with occasional appearances from the man himself, but over time he grew more and more involved to the point where it’s now the reverse.

Marin was one of the first officials in the Canadian public sector to use social media to engage in a real dialogue with citizens. I know from experience – at one point I challenged him via Twitter on a point he made about one of his reports, and he came back with a clear, well-stated position on the matter. He’s also known for being the person who engaged in a public battle, conducted in no small part in online channels, with the governing Liberal party when it looked like he might not be renewed for a second term in his position.

2. Learn more about open government

Marin’s current focus is the idea of open government – that, in the words of Wikipedia, “citizens have the right to access to the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight.” Having worked closely with the Freedom of Information Coordinator of the Ontario government’s Cabinet Office for several years, I know that there’s a fascinating debate to be had in this area, and one on which I can’t wait to hear Marin’s views.

3. Shine a spotlight on a little-understood position

Let’s face it, most people have absolutely no idea what the Ontario Ombudsman does. It’s one of the reasons I was so thrilled to see Marin begin to use social media – it put a face, a personality and some clarity on what, to many people, is a little-understood role. This is a great opportunity to hear more from the horse’s mouth.

4. Networking “R” Us

One of the great aspects of the Third Tuesday event, beyond the speakers themselves, is the opportunity to meet and get to know a wide variety of people in the industry – from startup, to corporate, to agency, to public sector, to non-profit. They’re all there, and it’s a great chance to get to know new folks.

5. It’s ten bucks

Ten bucks? Are you kidding me? I spend that much on breakfast most days. For that, you get to hear someone who is using new technologies in new ways and who is taking an interesting stance on important issues, and to meet and chat with a bunch of interesting folks. Do yourself a favour – skip the McMuffin or the latte for a day, and check it out.

See you there?

So there you have it. Five reasons why, if you can make it, you should be at Third Tuesday Toronto on June 21.

See you there?

SXSW 2011: Strong on Networking; Less on Content

I just arrived home from South by Southwest Interactive after six days down in Austin, Texas. Given that my voice has pretty much deserted me after numerous days trying to have conversations in overly noisy places, I thought I’d get some of my thoughts on the conference down on “paper” for you.

Networking Mecca

SXSW really is one of the key networking opportunities for people in the social space, and as attendee numbers continue to rise (more on that shortly, the opportunities are ever-increasing.

Yes, there are lots of parties at SXSW, but the people who get the most out of the event are those who use those events as a springboard for smaller, more focused conversations with other people.

While SXSW feels like a giant reunion to me, I tried to push myself out of my comfort zone and meet new people.This resulted in me meeting and begin to get to know people I’ve wanted to hang out with for a long time like Lionel MenchacaSusan BeebeChuck HemannLisa Grimm (way too much laughing ensued there), Aaron Stroud, Eric Schwartzman and Chris Baccus.

However, by forcing myself to meet new people, I was also able to enjoy serendipitous meetings with folks like Kendall AlimentRoger Dooley (neuro-marketing – fascinating), Patrick O’KeefeEric Kim (check out Twylah – it’s very interesting), Avesta Rasouli (founder of Coloft), Christel van der Book (Flipboard) and Andrew D’Souza (Top Prospect, a social recruiting site).

Foo Fighers show at SXSWTips:

  1. Don’t just hang out with people you already know. If you spend the whole time with people you could meet any day of the week normally, you’re missing out.
  2. Book meetings with people you want to meet well in advance. Breakfasts are often best, as days can get hectic and plans for lunch and dinner often change constantly.
  3. Look beyond the big parties. Sure, the big parties can be fun (the surprise Foo Fighters show was a massive highlight for me personally) but don’t spend all of your time at them. Grab a few people, grab dinner and get to know them better.

Size isn’t everything

I heard from a few sources that SXSW this year was about 30 per cent bigger than in recent years. This year it felt too big, with sessions spread throughout the city which provided a disincentive to attend. I think event organizers should consider whether bigger is always better, or whether they should cap the event size to prevent degradation of the event.

Content varies in quality

While SXSW, to me, is primarily about the people, the panels do still provide the main reason that people attend most conferences. Sadly, thanks to the panel picker system – which I think is a broken process that leads to catchy titles and popular people winning the day over interesting sessions – the quality is hit-or-miss at SXSW.

I went to some interesting sessions (Gary Vaynerchuk was again a SXSW highlight, while Angela LoSasso (disclosure: client), Adam Lavelle and Siobhan Quinn did a great panel on real-time marketing) but avoided many others. I’m glad I did, as I heard from many people that they fell more into the “miss” category, chiefly at the hands of moderators failing to keep topics on-track.

The session situation needs to be addressed. Too many people seem to submit panels just so they can get free conference passes, then fail to prepare anything of value to audiences. It must be near-impossible to coordinate so many sessions, but when the sessions at a conference become a laughing stock, there’s an issue that needs addressing.


  1. Plan-out your conference schedule ahead of time, so you don’t have to spend time poring over the conference program and missing out on other opportunities when you’re there.
  2. Focus on quality over quantity. Don’t just follow the cool titles; look for people who have expertise in spaces relevant to you and make an effort to attend those sessions.
  3. Decide on the topics you want to learn more about (for me: location-based marketing, influencer identification and marketing in streams – three key trends this year) and focus on them, both in the sessions and outside.
  4. Don’t feel that you always have to be in sessions. As I mentioned above, take advantage of the opportunity to get out, meet new people and make new connections.

No breakout companies this year

Twitter got its big break-through at SXSW in 2007. Foursquare arguably did so a couple of years later. At this point, though, the noise from companies vying for attention is so overwhelming that it’s very hard to break through and get significant attention without either extreme creativity or extreme spending.

This year I didn’t see any big winners, but I would agree with Jeremiah that “intimacy” was prevalent as a trend, with group SMS companies like Beluga and GroupMe getting attention from the early adopters.

Conclusion: Worth it

While I have serious concerns about the ever-expanding size and hit-or-miss quality of the sessions, for me the pros of SXSW still outweigh the cons. The blogger lounge alone provided significant value for me through the opportunity to meet and learn from new people. Meanwhile,  the smaller meetings and get-togethers provided the opportunity for me to get to know key people in the space and get in-depth on topics that are most relevant to me.

While it’s easy to get swept away in the hype, if you resist the crowds and clear your own path, SXSW is still a must-attend event in the social space.

Win A Ticket To The Art Of Marketing Conference

(This contest is now closed. It’s worth skimming the comments here anyway, though, for some great reading ideas!)

Want to see Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, Avinash Kaushik and more speak, all in one day? Then the latest Art of Marketing conference in Toronto is for you.

Held on March 7 in Toronto, the event features:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk – New York Times Bestselling Author, Crush It!
  • Guy Kawasaki – Bestselling Author, The Art of Start & Reality Check
  • Avinash Kaushik – Bestselling Author, Web Analytics 2.0 & Web Analytics: An Hour a Day
  • Dr. Sheena Iyengar – Columbia University Business Professor & Bestselling Author, The Art of Choosing
  • Jeffrey Hayzlett – Former CMO, Eastman Kodak Company & Bestselling Author, The Mirror Test

The good folks over at The Art of Productions have once again given me two tickets to give away. For a chance to win a ticket to the Art of Marketing conference, leave a comment recommending a book you’ve read recently. I’ll close entries at 11:59pm on February 28 and randomly pick two winners.

If you’d rather go ahead and get a ticket, you can use the code DF23 to save $50 per person or $100 per person in groups of 3 or more from the regular ticket price.

For a taste of just how good these folks are, check out the videos below.

On a related note, I’ll be speaking for the fourth year running at PodCamp Toronto on Feb 26. If you’re in the city that day, I hope to see you there!

(Note: the conference is in Toronto. You’ll be responsible for any travel and accommodation costs associated with getting there)

Live-Blogging Mesh Marketing #mm10

Edelman (my employer) is a long-time sponsor of Mesh and Mesh Marketing.

As part of our activities for Mesh Marketing, our team is using ScribbleLive to live-blog the event for people who couldn’t be there.

Here’s the feed:

Win a Ticket to The Art of Management in Toronto

We’re well into the Fall conference season now, and there are some great events coming up in Canada – UnGeeked Toronto (this week) and Mesh Marketing (which Edelman sponsors) are two great examples.

Another conference that caught my eye is the Art of Management – a conference focused on management and innovation, rather than my usual marketing niche – on November 15.

The organizers of the conference have provided me with two tickets, worth $399 each, to give away to readers of this site. To enter, leave a comment on this post with a link to a blog post by someone else that you think we should all read, and tell us why it’s so interesting by 11:59pm next Thursday (November 4). I’ll randomly pick the two winners.

The event has an amazing line-up:

  • Malcolm Gladwell – best-selling author of Outliers, Tipping Point, Blink etc
  • Michael Eisner – former CEO, Walt Disney Company and author of Working Together
  • Simon Sinek – Professor at Columbia University and author of Start With Why
  • Nilofer Merchant – CEO & Chief Strategist of Rubicon and author of The New How
  • Mitch Joel – President of Twist Image and author of Six Pixels of Separation

In case you need convincing about the conference, here’s what Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, had to say about last year’s management program:

(Note: the conference is in Toronto. You’ll be responsible for any travel and accommodation costs associated with getting there)

Personalities, Policies & Problems: Companies and Employees 2.0

The annual ritual is upon us – the submissions for next year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) are posted and the voting process has begun.

(Actually, it began a little while back but – you may have noticed the silence recently – I was away on vacation)

This year I’ve thrown my hat in the ring and submitted a SXSW 2011 panel proposal with Scott Stratten (UnMarketing), Chris Barger (General Motors) and Sarah White (HRM Direct) entitled Personalities, Policies & Problems: Companies and Employees 2.0.

The combination of immediacy and near-universal adoption of social media tools in many countries can lead to a communications and HR nightmare if processes and policies aren’t thought-out in advance. Our panel will focus on the internal corporate implications of social media adoption within companies from a variety of perspectives: PR agency, corporate communications and HR. In particular, we’ll consider:

  1. What is the best way to structure social media within a company?
  2. What internal policies do companies need to reduce risk when implementing social media?
  3. Do companies have a right to censor employees’ online activities when not at work?
  4. Should companies block Facebook, Twitter etc in the workplace?
  5. What role can and should social media play in recruiting?

If you like the sound of the panel, you can vote it up at the SXSW Panel Picker site.

While you’re over there, here are a few other great entries to check out:

What do you think? What are your favourite submissions?

(Voting for the panels ends this Friday, August 27)

Hanging Out With 900 Friends At PodCamp Toronto

This past weekend, roughly 900 people came out to attend PodCamp Toronto 2010.

Since joining the organizing team for the event in 2008, I’ve seen PodCamp Toronto grow from a couple of hundred early tech adopters to a large, diverse group of people from all along the adoption curve. This year more than perhaps any, the sessions reflected that diversity.

Dave Fleet presenting at PodCamp Toronto 2010My highlights from the weekend:

Jerome Paradis presented a mind-expanding take on semantic commerce – the idea that people could purchase from multiple vendors through one website. Effectively turning the e-commerce model on its head, semantic commerce would be driven by APIs from vendors and result in personalized sites for every person. What’s more, it would give consumers control over their own purchase histories, preferences and identities.

Some presentations make you better at doing things; others make you smarter. This one was the latter, and was easily the highlight of PodCamp Toronto for me.

Brad Buset gave a thought-provoking talk on personal privacy. This was the first time I’d seen Brad present, and he did a great job with a timely topic – even handing-out copies of George Orwell’s 1984 to people who hadn’t read it.

Jeremy Wright and Melissa Smich earned a lot of laughs from the audience (and a “hrumph” from me for highlighting photographic evidence of my farmer tan) with their session on Twitter and dating. An interesting presentation format, cupcakes for active participants and the obligatory hashtag-ridden visuals, this was a nice light end to my PodCamp.

Unfortunately, once again I missed Sean Power‘s session – this time on Applied Communilytics. I heard it was great; one day I’ll finally see this guy present. At the time, I was attending David Bradfield and Miranda McCurlie‘s presentation on when social media become unsocial. The session had a very interesting topic; however, the most interesting part for me was seeing how the presenters have learned from their own past mistakes and grown as a result. Well-attended and interactive, this was another good session.

For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed presenting my session. With a good turnout and great audience participation, I was actually sad when the half-hour was over.

Once again, thanks to all of my co-organizers at this year’s event. I played a small role this year, and the rest of the organizing team did a really great job. Well done, folks!

If you attended this year’s PodCamp Toronto, what were your highlights?

(Photo credit: Looking over the audience at my session – by evablue)

Seven Ways To Get The Most Out Of PodCamp Toronto

This coming weekend – February 20-21 – social media enthusiasts from coast to coast will descend on Toronto for PodCamp Toronto 2010. For the third year in a row, I’m part of the organizing committee, although a busy day job means I’ve taken a back seat this year.

PodCamp Toronto 2010Every year this weekend makes up one of the highlights of my event calendar. Whether it’s the chance to absorb new thinking, to catch up with friends, to meet new people or to get feedback from others on my ideas, it’s always a weekend well spent.

As I type, there are 993 registrants for the weekend. We’re likely to hit 1,100 by the time the event hits. The number of people in close proximity can be a little overwhelming, so here are a few tips for getting the most out of your PodCamp Toronto:

  1. Know WHAT you want. There are almost 60 sessions over the two days. Check out the schedule in advance (it will be posted this week) and know what you want to see (*ahem* I’m presenting. Just sayin’…:)).
  2. Be flexible. Remember that PodCamp Toronto is an unconference. The schedule will change – sessions will be added; sessions will be cancelled. Take advantage of this by staying alert and changing your plans so you can check out the best sessions for you.
  3. The Law of Two Feet. This is one of the founding principles of PodCamp. If you aren’t getting what you want out of a session, you can get up and leave. There’s no stigma attached as there is in other events – this is all about you getting the most out of the event. So, if you aren’t getting anything out of one session, leave and check out another one.
  4. Know WHO you want. Check out the registration list and pull-out a list of people you want to meet at the event. Connect with them in advance if you can. Don’t be creepy, but do take advantage of the chance to meet thought leaders in an informal setting.
  5. Participate. PodCamp IS the participants. The sessions, the atmosphere, the after-party :). It’s all about the participants. If you have a question, ask it. If you have a thought, present it. Get involved. If you don’t get what you want out of the event and you haven’t participated, it’s your own fault.
  6. The Halls! Look around in the halls during the sessions. You’ll see a lot of people sitting around talking. That’s because, while the sessions are fabulous, much of the best activity at PodCamp happens in the halls – separate from the sessions as groups congregate, talk and connect. If you see a bunch of people sitting around, ask if you can join them.
  7. Socialize. PodCamp Toronto is an event itself, but there are plenty of other PodCamp-related things going on before, during and after PodCamp. Watch the #pcto2010 hashtag in the days leading up to the event and during the event itself, and keep an eye on the PodCamp Toronto blog too.

See you there?

Win A Ticket To The Art Of Marketing Conference

We’re heading into conference season again soon, with a whole slew of events including Social Media Week (next week), PodCamp Toronto (Feb 20-21), SXSW Interactive (March 12-16) all coming up in the next six weeks or so.

One event that’s caught my attention several times is the upcoming Art of Marketing Conference in Toronto on March 2 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. With a great lineup of six bestselling authors, there’s something for anyone working in a communications role at this event:

The good folks at The Art of Productions, who are organizing this event, have offered me the chance to attend this event. What’s more, they’re also giving me one more ticket to offer to a lucky reader of this site.

I’ve seen a few other contests for tickets to this event, so I’ll change the format up a little and give some love to other blogs. For a chance to win the ticket, just leave a comment on this post and include a link to a recent blog post you recommend other people read, and say why you think it’s worth checking out. It doesn’t matter whose site it is; just make it a good one!

I’ll pick a winner on Feb 8, so make sure you enter before then (and make sure you include a real email address when you submit your comment or I won’t be able to contact you!).

Note: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Tamara Gruber on winning the ticket!

For those who’d rather be sure of getting their ticket, readers of this site can use promo code SK23 to get their ticket at $50 off, for just $349.

In the meantime, check out the video for the event:

Where Will You Be This Year?

I’m no A-list jet-setter, but I’m speaking at a several events over the next couple of months.

In case you’re in the area, I’ll be speaking at the following events:


I’m also attending the Mesh Conference in April and Podcasters Across Borders in June.

If you’re able to attend any of these events, please say hi!

I haven’t thought much past the next few weeks in terms of events. Where will you be this year?

What are your “must attend” events this year?

(Image credit: Keith Burtis)