I have been using the idea of network building as the primary activity of communications professionals today in a variety of articles and presentations over the past few months, and it continues to be well received. I have added a category to this blog called "Network Building" and will be adding to it more thinking and posts as I move along. I added a few posts I have written in other places to this blog, in this category today to make sure they are all in one place.
I had the distinct pleasure of being able to debate my ideas with a great group of people last week in Sunderland, UK, when I travelled north to the Making the News conference, organized by fellow blogger and SNCR member, Philip Young. I flew in to the Newcastle airport direct from Paris, where I was met by Chris Rushton (head of PR and journalism at the University of Sunderland) bearing a sign with my name on it! Our plane was almost a hour late, putting us there directly at rush hour. We managed to pass the time sitting in traffic discussing Chris' latest research and the wild and wacky world of participatory communications.
Soon we were at the Marriott, right on the waterfront. Beautiful view. A bit later, we gathered in the bar: Philip Young, Neville Hobson, Stuart Bruce, Anne Marie Cotton of the European PR Educations and Research Association, and Serge Cornelus, a lecturer at a Belgian university (which name is escaping me at the moment). Lots of blog gossip and laughter followed.
We walked to dinner (about 20 minutes in the freezing cold - lucky I brought my warm coat!), a lovely Italian place. There I met Stephen Davies and another student's of Philip's. A yummy dinner followed. When we returned to the hotel (that cold air whisking the chianti right out of our heads!), Tom Murphy was waiting for us.
The best thing about events like this is to get to meet in person the people you have been corresponding with for so long. Of course, I have met Neville any number of times, but it was my first time meeting Philip, Tom, Stuart and Anne-Marie. Our conversations were funny, challenging and always interesting. Philip and I were marvelling at how blogging is such a great way to get to know people. My experiences in putting together the program for the New Communications Forum last year and this one reflected exactly his experiences, written about here. We have lots of ideas for future collaborations now!
The day of the event dawned with bright sunshine and a brisk wind. We bravely faced it during our photo session (result below).
The morning presentations went well, and I was the last person to speak before lunch (did I hear some growling bellies?) I nattered on a bit too long, and left no time for a Q&A (many apologies, sometimes my enthusiasm for the subject gets away from me!), but people seemed to like what I had to say. Unfortunately, I had to leave straight after lunch to catch my plane, so missed the afternoon presentations.
I really enjoyed my time in Sunderland, and hope to visit it and the surrounding area again, as I had no time to really see anything.
I want to add a special thanks to Nicky and her team at the aptly named Don't Panic Projects. She finally got my presentation working (after much panic on my part!).