What I Learned At CommsCanada 2006 Today

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I was asked to give the keynote at CommsCanada 2006 today. The conference was produced by Melcrum – a company that provides research reports, publications and events targeted at communications professionals. CommsCanada 2006 was billed as “Leveraging Internal Communication for Business Results.” Last night, the organizers invited me and some of the other presenters out for dinner. As I was learning more about Melcrum, I asked if they were at all in touch with my CAPOW cohorts and fellow Podcasters, Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson (For Immediate Release). It turns out they are. Shel actually authored one of their how-to guides titled, The Top 10 New Technologies For Internal Communicators. Another sign that life truly has become all about six pixels of separation.
My keynote kicked off the event and I could see some of the jaws drop as I moved from where we were to where we are to where we’re going in this conversation marketing environment. I have three key questions to gauge the barometer of mass acceptance.
Question one: “how many people have read a Blog?” I am happy to report that in a room full of communications professionals (mostly involved on the internal communications side), every single person had their hand raised – this is a first for me… there are usually a handful of stragglers.
Question two: “how many people have a RSS feed or customizable homepage?” Here the hands raised were a bit over half of the close to one hundred participants. RSS is gaining ground… happy about that response too… much higher than I expected.
Question three: “how many people know about Second Life?” Not a single hand rose. No one. While I have my Avatar (Mitch Till) and I occasionally hop into Second Life to explore, meet up with friends and discover new ways to communicate, it became crystal clear that Second Life is still far away from prime time.
I was happy to field many very intelligent questions which were followed by more in-depth conversations in between sessions and at lunch. One question, which still rattles me tonight is, “how can I apply social media to the public sector?” Some of my thoughts revolve around getting people used to the new conversations, adding relevant Blogs and Podcasts to a feed, commenting and pushing the conversation forward in hopes that those that work in the public sector will better understand the power of it, instead of fearing the best parts. Namely, transparency and the ability to have an honest conversation, not just push a party line or corporate message. So no, you don’t have to have a Blog or Podcast to take part in social media. All you have to do is be open to joining the conversation.