Eek! 2013 has been a terrible year for me in terms of blogging. I’ve had good intentions, including a bunch of half-written posts sitting in my drafts, but somehow, other projects have gotten in the way.
Truth be told, I enjoy blogging, but sometimes find it a bit deflating that blog posts seem to have such a short shelf life, not only on this blog – but on those of many brilliant bloggers that I follow regularly. So, today I’m celebrating some of my favourite posts from some of the blogs that I love to read regularly.
Listed below (in no particular order) are some of my favourite blog posts from this year. Most are from the #Eventprofs community, but I’ve also been following some in the sustainability and content marketing fields.
- Shawna McKinley‘s posts Do Events Have the Power to Heal and Meeting Mythbusters: Bioplastic Fantastic? on her blog Eventcellany. Shawna is a gifted writer who is both thoughtful, and thought-provoking. What I most enjoy about Shawna’s posts is the rich analysis she brings to her writing, which she infuses with personal stories. (Reaching back a bit more – I love reading her 2011 The Jackass Whisperer from her previous blog, Sustainable Destinations.)
- Tahira Endean‘s post How Would You Sign Your Day is a touching tribute to women influencers. Towards the end of the post, building on the words of Marilyn Carlson Nelson, she asks “If you imagined your life as a great masterpiece, and today was a painting, would you put your signature on it?” – something I’m going to try to myself more in 2014. I love following Tahira’s blog Events, Life and Impact Points – she keeps me up to date on the latest industry trends, and is always sharing the spotlight with others.
- Nancy Zavada‘s post Stop Traffick! brings light to the important issue of helping to end child trafficking. She provides links to resources for event professionals to help us to get involved in this human rights issue. Nancy’s blog, Pretentious Musings of a Meet Green Martyr is great to follow for her on the ground reports of sustainable events, and she is one of the people that inspires me the most in this field.
- Dennis Shiao‘s How to Do Product Marketing Without Marketing Your Product was a great start to the year – a good blend of tried and true marketing concepts with newer elements of content marketing brought to the forefront. His blog, It’s All Virtual it’s a great source of information on social media, content marketing and personal branding.
- Jenise Fryatt‘s post Are You Practicing Ethical Content Marketing? transcribes a timely #ContentChat discussion on issues ranging from plagiarism to reputation management. She blogs regularly with Mitchell Beer on the SmarterShift’s The Content Roundtable blog. I also recommend Mitchell’s post A Low Carbon Future Depends on Economic Conversion.
- Julie Urlaub‘s post Sustainable Supply Chain 101 is a great piece on the business case for promoting sustainability outside your organization’s walls. I highly recommend her Taiga Company blog for sustainable business content.
- Jeff Hurt‘s post It Is Time To Reinvent the Meetings Industry and the Meeting Professional is a great call to action. My favourite quote “We have more silos for our major conferences than the traditional farm. Unfortunately, the conference silos are not used to store nourishment that leads to outstanding education and networking.” Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections, where Jeff blogs along with Dave Lutz, Sarah Michel and Donna Kastner is a fantastic resource for event professionals.
- Jonathan Bloom‘s Wasted Food blog is one of my favourites. He includes great infographics, resources, and funny anecdotes and photos that keep things lighthearted. I particularly enjoyed his solution to a rotten spot an apple and his collection of alphabet shaped veggies.
I encourage you to spend a bit of time rummaging through your favourite bloggers’ archives looking for treasure to share.
I’m honoured to have an article in this month’s MPI One+. A quick recap of the article can be found below.
In honour of World Water day, here are some of my favourite resources for event professionals:
International World Water Day Resources:
- UN World Water Day Information – useful information about the water crisis
- Taiga Company’s Pinterest page – beautiful images and great curated content
Water Footprint Information:
- Water Footprint Network – this is my “go to” page for water footprint information. Their product gallery is incredibly useful and has strong scientific background.
- National Geographic Water Footprint Calculator – great way to measure your household footprint.
- ONE DROP’s Calculator - gives you the water footprint of what’s on your plate.
- Shawna McKinley’s blog post on how much water is saved using water stations instead of bottled water.
- Green Meeting Industry Council’s information page on International Water Day 2012 (be sure to click on the commitment to change form for more great information)
- A bit self-promotional, but I really like my last post on water conservation for meeting professionals (infographic)
What are your favourite resources?
Image courtesy bigstockimages.com / hospitalera
We’re moving, which means we’ve been decluttering the house, or at least trying to! As part of the “big clean”, I came across a suitcase full of old conference bags, with all kinds of exhibitor catalogues, flyers, brochures, etc. Perhaps with a hint of procrastination, I decided to calculate the water footprint of one of these bags. Here’s what I came up with:
- 1 cotton tote bag = 2500 litres
- 182 pages of paper = 1820 litres
- Total = 4320 litres (over 1000 gallons!)
- Estimated event participants = 2500
- Total water consumption from tote bags and materials = 10,800,000 litres
According to this National Geographic article, the global average water footprint of 900 gallons per person per day for diet, household use, transportation, energy, and the consumption of material goods, meaning that the bags and papers from this one conference were equivalent to the daily needs of 12,000 people.
World Water Day is coming up on March 22nd and I hope that these tips for reducing the water footprint of your event will come in handy.
Let me start by saying, I’m not an academic. I do however, have a great appreciation for academics, and particularly those that are using social media to help inform and engage the non-academic community. A few months ago, I came across the #ScholarSunday hashtag – started by Dr. Raul Pacheco as a #FollowFriday for academics. I think this is a brilliant way of helping to identify those academics that are transforming the role of academics in society. From a meetings industry perspective, finding engaging academics can add an valuable perspective to your program, regardless of whether or not you’re hosting an academic event.
What I look for in a #ScholarSunday:
- Do they challenge my assumptions?
- Do they tell great stories, and are they able to back them up with solid research?
- Can and do they respond well to criticism about their findings or posts?
- Do they actively engage with their friends and followers on social media, or do they only broadcast about themselves?
- Is their work accessible to the non-academic?
- Do they come across as human?
Why My 1st #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy
My first #ScholarSunday goes to @GlobalEcoGuy (Dr. Jonathan Foley, the director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota) for the reasons listed above. His TED talk (see below) and thought provoking articles in Nature and Scientific American focus on a plan to feed the world while sustaining the planet. (FYI – their new publication ensia is my favorite online magazine – great science, stories and visuals.)
In preparation for this post, I had the pleasure of interviewing him about science & social media. A short excerpt from the interview is below:
@meetingchange A2: Many! But mostly to get outside the academic ivory tower bubble, at least for a bit. We usually only talk to ourselves…
— Jonathan Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy) March 7, 2013
I also put him on the spot for who he likes to follow on social media. His comments on possible generational differences to approaches to social media can be found in the transcript above, and he also provided a few names:
— Jonathan Foley (@GlobalEcoGuy) March 7, 2013
Advice for Eventprofs about Academics as Speakers
I have planned many academic conferences over the years, and I can say that some academics are exceptional presenters and others well, are not. I think that #ScholarSunday has the potential to be a great resource for event professionals because it helps us to identify academics that know how to engage and are respected by their peers. In addition, I strongly recommend finding videos of their presentations, as this helps to get a sense of their presentation style as well. A few tips to share with them before their sessions include:
- Review expectations about the presentation style that you and your participants need, including interactive and visual elements.
- Ask them to engage with your event participants using the event hashtag before, during and after the event.
- If possible, schedule a twitter chat with several speakers and your community members and send the transcript out to promote your event.
- Provide them with background information about your audience and the audience’s knowledge of the subject matter so that the content can be appropriately tailored.
- Consider an interview format rather than a standard lecture presentation, this can help make the session more engaging for the audience.
I’ve been struggling lately with finding relevance for associations. I’m struggling because I love associations, but I question how they will continue with current models. Here’s my problem: I think many associations have forgotten why they exist, and instead, focus on just collecting dues and holding events. I’ve spoken with several association leaders lately that are having a hard time meeting financial goals, delivering value to stakeholders, and achieving their goals. I’ve also spoken with many association members who really question why they pay to be members of an organization and whether or not the fees are worth it. We need a major transformation both in terms of what associations do, and how they are funded.
I think many associations act like cocoons: they’re insular, and keep their value hidden. On the other hand, I’m also starting to see signs of associations evolving to be more like butterflies – and I hope to see more of this. So how do cocoon associations and butterfly associations compare?
Cocoon associations are inward facing: concerned with themselves and their growth. They focus on recruiting members and holding events. They hide their value – and showing it only to those on the inside, and are restrictive about things like sharing content. They are tightly guarded, and put up a barrier that separates them from the world. They are also stuck in one place, not able to leave their spot. This combined with their vulnerability to everything from the economy to their competitors. Cocoon associations don’t sound very promising – but they have a huge potential to emerge transformed.
Butterfly associations on the other hand have an outward focus and they show their value to everyone around them. With their wings outstretched and open they move freely as needed. When faced with a possible threat – they can fly to a safer place. They’re not completely protected from the butterfly nets of the association world, but they have the ability to be nimble. They are also transformed with a new focus on the mission of the association, not simply the management of the association. Butterflies are fascinating, they soar to great heights and they’re loved.
The Transformation Process
Becoming a butterfly association is no easy task and involves consultation and collaboration as well as answering some pretty tough questions. A few questions and tips to get you started:
- Start by asking yourself: How is your association relevant? Do you deliver value?
- Next, ask yourself if your current practices are the most effective way of achieving your mission. Are you preventing your leadership from focusing on key priorities because they are being consumed by projects that while valuable, or are not the best use of their time and talent? Are there other initiatives that would be more important?
- Develop a long-term plan, one with room for flexibility, but that ultimately commits to a transformation.
- Develop an alternative funding model that will help ensure your long-term sustainability that is not heavily dependent on member dues.
- Gain support for your vision with your board and stakeholders. Keep in mind that when you’re stuck inside the cocoon, it can be difficult to see the beauty that will emerge.