Close your eyes and imagine an intranet that works. An intranet that boosts employee productivity and encourages the sharing of knowledge and experiences. An intranet that employees enjoy using every day. No, you’re not dreaming. You’re listening to William Amurgis talk about the intranet at American Electric Power.
I was fortunate to meet the well-known product marketer April Dunford at ProductCamp Toronto last month. In the latest Trafcom News Podcast, April shares her thoughts on social media for product marketers.
We also get into an animated discussion about who should be blogging about products – the PR department or the product people.
In a short interview conducted at the IABC world conference in June 2009, Paul Barton, ABC, director of internal communication at Hawaiian Airlines, talks about how they’re using audio podcasts to engage employees. Visit the Trafcom News Podcast page to listen or download and to see the show notes. Your comments are welcome!
The International Association of Business Communicators world conference in San Francisco may have been a little smaller than last year’s meeting in New York, but it was still packed with content and networking opportunities. Because of the global financial crisis (and the potential threat of H1N1, I presume), numbers were down but enthusiasm ran high. (That's my photo of the Bay Bridge; it ain't the iconic Golden Gate.)
Neville Hobson’s presentation on creating podcasts to engage audiences reinforced much of what I’ve been saying about podcasting since 2005: It can be an extremely effective way to use the warmth of the human voice to share knowledge, insights and news with employees and customers. Neville is one of my podcasting heroes, as co-host of For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report.
A session by Lee Hopkins on 3D virtual worlds opened my eyes to the ways in which the Web is likely to evolve into a three-dimensional experience. I’ve been quite the Second Life skeptic over the last few years, but Lee has changed my mind. Second Life may not be the application that gets us to 3D, but the trend is here to stay. Here's a link to Lee's presentation.
After the welcome reception at the historic San Francisco Ferry Building, the dinner for fans of the For Immediate Release podcast was a blast. We enjoyed fantastic food at the Town Hall restaurant, and much laughter among this lively group, despite the late hour for this Eastern time zone gal. Thanks to Neville and to Shel Holtz for their podcast and for organizing this meal.
The presentation by EXCEL award winner Brian J. Dunn, COO (soon to be CEO) of Best Buy, showed us how his organization is using multimedia (including blogs, video and Webcasts) to engage employees all over the world. With great humour, he described what he calls his role as “chief content officer.” I wish more C-suite executives shared his views.
Jason Falls and Heidi Sullivan’s talk on “Change management: how a social media strategy smoothes the bumpy road of managing online communication” was an information-packed hour on the need to adopt emerging technologies.
A panel discussion with Steve Crescenzo of Crescenzo Communications, Chuck Gose of Media Tile, Jeremy Schultz of Intel, Paul Barton of Hawaiian Airlines and Dave Meyer of Bizzyweb made very clear the idea that dry, jargon-filled employee communications just don’t cut it any more. I managed to snag a podcast interview with Paul, who is director of internal communications at Hawaiian Airlines, about how he’s using podcasts to communicate with employees there. You’ll find this audio report on my Trafcom News Podcast blog.
David Grossman and Marty Campanello talked about internal branding as a way to present a credible, compelling and differentiating story about your organization, product or initiative that inspires and engages people and creates brand ambassadors who deliver the brand promise and speak out positively on your behalf. I love this concept.
The Dine Around is always a hit with IABC attendees, and this year was no exception. I was fortunate to have a lovely French meal at Le Charm with a group of communicators from various regions of the U.S.
Last but not least, here’s a shout-out to my IABC roomie Sue Horner, whose blog I highly recommend if you love the written word. Sue has written up her own highlights from the conference; her notes, as always, are better than mine, so hop over there!
In my latest podcast, I offer a short report from the IABC International Conference in New York, as well as a great tip for PR people, and some news about upcoming events. It's just 15 minutes, so check it out.
When I heard that the IABC International Conference would be in New York this year, I registered immediately, because I never pass up a reason to visit my home town. I really do like living in the Toronto area, but I’ll always love New York (as this sculpture on Sixth Avenue says).
Over four days, I met hundreds of people, attended some great sessions, spent time with friends outside the conference, and walked miles around Manhattan. Yes, I felt like a tourist gaping at the Empire State Building, meandering through the cool greenness of Central Park and wearing out my MasterCard at Bloomingdale’s. Here are some of my impressions:
Two years ago, at the IABC International Conference in Vancouver, social media was seen as a sort of odd duck. Blogs and podcasts were new and different, and communicators weren’t quite sure what to make of them. Now, presenters would mention an employee blog or podcast as an integral part of a relaunched intranet without blinking an eye. We’ve come a long way, baby.
If Bill Marriott can find the time to blog, so can your CEO. In his speech accepting the IABC’s EXCEL Award for Excellence in Communication Leadership, Marriott said that he dictates his blog content into a recorder, and someone on his communications team actually writes it up. Visiting 300 hotel properties per year, he’s a busy guy, yet he invests the time to tell stories using this medium. That’s because he values storytelling as a way to engage employees and reach out to the public. He also acknowledged that his blog has generated millions of dollars in hotel bookings via a link on the home page.
Seth Godin never disappoints. His high-energy closing keynote was sure to fire up some of the savvy communicators in the room and frighten the pants off those who don’t appreciate the way marketing has changed in the last few years. If you can’t be remarkable, then get out of the way.
The conference parties will be hard to top at future IABC events. Kudos to Deloitte for the gorgeous food and drink at the opening reception at the Rainbow Room, and to CNW Group for the fantastic Canadian party at the Pegasus Suite.
And on a more personal note:
Do Tokyo department stores not have nice washrooms? I ran into a gaggle of giggling Japanese girls photographing the ladies’ lounge at Bloomies. I guess I should have taken their picture.
Speaking of stores, the level of service in New York is extraordinary – from the waiters in restaurants, clerks in retail establishments, even the woman selling subway tickets (who let me purchase a single ride, even though it’s against the rules).
Were you at the IABC conference? What did you think?
No, I’m not turning Trafcom News into a restaurant review blog. I’m hardly qualified to write about gastronomy. However, we discovered a fabulous restaurant in New York last night, a place with an interesting story and marvelous food, and I wanted to share it with you.
Colors, at 417 Lafayette Street, is said to be Manhattan's first restaurant cooperatively owned by former workers from Windows on The World at the World Trade Center.
Six of us last night enjoyed the global menu at Colors – fried calamari, avocado salad, shrimp, skirt steak, salmon and pork – all served with creative combinations of veggies and sauces. Service was impeccable and the ambience was warm and inviting, as you can see from my lousy photo.
Takeaways from the IABC International Conference in Vancouver
Whether or not you’re an IABC member, you’ll be interested in these truisms about communications – the glories of print, the joys of beautiful writing, what it’s like to be chuffed, and the best companions with whom to be trapped in an elevator. You can read the full shownotes and download the audio file at the Trafcom News Podcast page.
After thinking about the sessions I attended at the IABC International Conference in Vancouver this week, it occurs to me that I never want to attend another speech delivered by someone who can’t tell a story. The best speakers were those who shared stories to illustrate, to teach and to persuade. Days later, despite late nights and jet lag, I can remember the specific examples they used, because they painted pictures for us as they brought their material to life. They made us laugh and they forced us to think. Really, their sessions are burnished into our brains. (If I close my eyes and visualize Tod Maffin, for example, I laugh out loud and I REMEMBER what he said.)
Meanwhile, some of the other speakers (you know the ones – they read their PowerPoint slides) have faded from my consciousness. What were their names? What did they talk about? They’re already a dim memory.
Attention speakers: If you want to be remembered, tell me a story,