I spent Friday at the CIPR Conference in Brighton – here are my slides plus a couple of observations from the day. It was an interesting day with a fairly eclectic mix of speakers which I always enjoy with respect to the keeping on the toes.
However for a communications conference there was an alarming lack of digital, not so much from the panellists, but from the audience. One of the first speakers, Rebecca Richmond from Melcrum, really encapsulated this for me. She had a really interesting presentation about the use of dialogue as an internal communications technique and the audience loved it. Quite right, too, as she was an excellent presenter and had some real depth to her content. However, there was no discussion of the fact that this kind of interaction works in many ways better online and that this is in fact the style of communication that any recent graduate will be used to in terms of collaborating around coursework. The research on internal dialogues was being presented as entirely separate from any overarching change in preference and skills around communications generally which gives the false impression that you can control this kind of change rather than have it emerge spontaneously at some point. Perhaps she was lulling them into a false sense of security.
The social media panel was good with a variety of presenters – all of whom had proper experience of the subject. Rob Dyson from Whiz-Kidz made is all want to rush off and donate after his overview of their online activities, Esko Reinikainen made it clear that there are far more interesting things going on in Monmouthmshire than any of us realised, Charlotte Beckett gave us the unforgettable metaphor of a Facebook campaign being like a Daily Mail campaign and our own Andrew Brightwell talked some common sense about how you actually get on and work with local communities.
I also sat in on Andy Allsop’s dissection of Cambridgeshire County Council’s handling of the media around three recent serious case reviews and was really glad I did as its always good to remind yourself of the fact that what council’s do matters enormously and that officers and members are working hard to bring about the best possible results for their citizens – and that failure is a complex issue and not always someone’s fault.
This point might have been a useful reminder for the next session which included a very very grumpy Norman Baker MP as one of the panellists on an Any Questions style debate. Really. It was two days after the comprehensive spending review – was he really surprised to find that public sector workers were angry and hurt not just about the scale of cuts but about the way that many people who are not termed ‘frontline workers’ have been painted in the press and by ministers?? This coalition business means taking the rough with the smooth and it should happen with a bit more grace than I saw on Friday – but that is very much a personal view. Below are the slides from my session – and apologies to anyone who could not keep up with my speed of speech after three cups of coffee – camomile tea next time I present I think:
My aim was to draw out two points:
1) The virtual world is very real and no longer avoidable as we now live in a Network Society (see earlier remarks)
2) Government needs to build online civic spaces for the future and work around the generational obstacles that are in the way right now
In the office for the next couple of weeks, so will try and get some debate kicked off on the subject of open data, source and ultimately practice – enjoy!