Conference Blogging: The FPRA shows how it should be done

FPRA 2006 ConferenceA hat tip to the Florida Public Relations Association for the very successful live blogging around the recent FPRA annual conference. To my mind, FPRA blog established a new standard that other PR organizations should study and emulate at their next meetings.

What did FPRA do right?

First, they publicized it in advance of the start of the conference through established blogs. I spotted lead up posts by Josh Hallett at hyku and Erin Caldwell at the Forward Blog. By having established bloggers post about the conference blog in advance of the conference, their established communities of readers were able to subscribe to the conference blog in time to catch all of the action.

Second, the bloggers actually blogged frequently. In my experience, this has been the most frequent failure of other organizations that established conference blogs that remained virtually empty (and unvisited?) throughout the conference. FPRA’s conference bloggers – Josh Hallett, Chris Gent, Jennifer Wakefield and Bob O’Malley – posted more than 70 times leading up to and during the conference. More than enough to attract attention.

Third, the quality of the posts was high – a good mix of informative longer posts with quick hits. This sustained attention.

Fourth, the posts prompted a real discussion. Some posts had as many as 14 comments – which is a lot compared to other PR conference blogs I’ve visited.

Finally, they used multimedia to give visitors that “being there” feeling. A nod to Josh Hallett for introducing hallway interview MP3s to his posts in addition to Flickr photos. A nice touch.

The complete conference postings can be viewed under the Annual Conference category on the FPRA blog.

Congratulations to the FPRA, especially their hardworking bloggers, Josh, Chris, Jennifer and Bob!

  • Joe, thanks for the recognition. It was great to get some outside attention, considering that our primary audience was FPRA members.

    I am actually working on a ‘How We Did It’ post that covers the tools and tactics we used to blog conference.

  • Hi Josh,
    I’ll look forward to your post. I’m speaking at several conferences in Canada this autumn and I’m hoping that the organizers will look to what you did at the FPRA as a source of inspiration for their own liveblogging platforms.

  • Wow, thanks for the kind words. However, I only played a small part. It is really Josh, Chris and Bob that deserve the recognition for their idea and for such a superb job on following through.

  • Thanks, Joe, for your kind words about the FPRA Annual Conference blog. This was the first year the conference had been blogged, so we really had a blank canvas from which to work.

    Overall, we have been very pleased with the success of the blog… and even more pleased with the 191 comments that were posted during and after the conference.

    People that couldn’t attend the conference felt connected this year because of the blog. And because of the awareness the blog created for the conference, I’m betting next year’s attendance will be even higher.

  • Chris,
    I think that you are right in your bet that more people will want to attend next year’s conference as a result of this year’s coverage.

    This is a lesson that more conference organizers should learn. Too many are still afraid that they will lessen attendance if they allow non-attendees to share via live-blogs. In fact, I think the only ones who need fear this are those that fail to put together a top notch program.

    When a conference does it right, like the FPRA did, people who get a glimpse through the live blog will want to be there next year to share first hand in the experience.

  • Joseph,

    Do think that conference attendees lose key information by blogging during a conference?

  • Hi Dave,
    When I have live blogged from a conference, I have definitely paid closer attention throughout. I am also working in real time to decide what is important and to process and analyse this. This may cause me to only half listen to some points while I am working through the import of a point I am trying to capture in writing.
    But overall, I think that a dedicated blogger will capture more key information than the average passive attendee.

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