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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Live blogging Conferences- tips and best practices

In continuation of my previous post about the advantages of Live Blogging, this post shares some tips that can be adopted while live blogging a conference or an event.

Pre-Event:
Preparation for live blogging starts as soon as you know that an event is coming up. In particular, try to do the following:
  • Learn more about the speakers/participants. Familiarize yourself with their title, specialization etc. Add them on facebook if possible, follow them on twitter. This will help later when you wish to tag them in a photo or a post. Similarly befriend fellow bloggers, event organizers etc
  • Ensure that blog is up and running, all required plugins are done, it is indexed by google and you and other bloggers have appropriate level of access. Update your profile so that you get due credits for your work.
  • Start updating event blog about various pre-event information- who all are speaking, how to reach the venue, what is the agenda and various other topics relevant to the given event. This will help build up pre-event publicity and also search engines will take note of your blog for keywords related to the event, so that event updates can command good traffic
  • Request organizers to include blog URL in all possible event materials- emailers, brochures etc. This way participants will know in advance (or at least during the event) that it is being live blogged)
  • Figure out what interesting information about the event you can cover in the blog, that event website or mainstream media can’t (for example, how the stage is being setup, how many entries were received for a contest and so on)
  • Have a set of event related photographs ready (of the venue, speakers, company logos etc)
  • Make a checklist of things to carry for the event (fully charged laptop, internet data card, camera, audio/video recording equipments, necessary cables, chargers etc
shrinidhi-nishcal-niharika-figo-blr
Above: Me interviewing Ford Figo couples Nischal & Niharika in Bangalore [Details]


During the event
  • Its important to be present early and occupy a table which is most strategic (close to the stage and close to a source of power)
  • Take some pics of the venue before the event starts-stage, stalls, key organizers, banners
  • Get settled in your seat, check the connectivity. Datacard based connectivity will be weak in basements, soundproof conference halls etc. If there’s a wi-fi/LAN/other modes of connectivity its great, else one will have to manage with poor data cards
  • Get in touch with event organizer/emcee, get them to display/announce that event is being live blogged at appropriate time
  • To live blog an event we will actively listen to the talks, take notes and publish the summary of the talk as a blog post. Live blogging is best done in teams of 2 or 3 people. Each blogger will take up one speaker on rotation, so that after one speaker, blogger A who listened to him can compile the post and publish it while Blogger B can listen to next speaker.
  • Blog post can be of different style, depending on the content, situation and your comfort level. For example, if there're lots of statistics or disconnected points, they can be listed as bullet points. If there's been a generic talk, the excerpts or summary of the same can be published as a blog post in couple of paragraphs.
  • Having basic knowledge about the speaker, his background or subject will be of great help. Avoid doing mistakes while mentioning someone’s name, designation, company etc. These are sensitive information and might even result in escalations.
  • Once in a while one won't be able to write about particular speaker, if the talks are too fast/generic etc or if his accent is too tough to interpret. Refer to the ppt if he/she has any or any written communication from organizers.Do not worry if you're not able to cover a particular speaker well. See what best you can do in the available speaker and get ready for next one. Worst case it should be fine not to cover one or two speakers, as long as more than 90% of the speakers are covered
  • For panel discussions where everyone talks, focus on key points/outcomes or questions raised and opinions/answers given.
  • Do not attempt to upload high res photos directly to blog using datacard. Upload them to flickr or picasa in bulk, then take the embeddable code and use it in blog.
  • Check what else can be done to make the blog interesting- see if you can pull out an interview with exhibitor, a podcast with the speaker, some feedbacks from the audience, some statistics etc
  • Blog posts can also be promoted on twitter and facebook as and when they are published, for some instant audience. Tag concerned people in tweets, photos and updates. Speakers and others would love to share/retweet updates related to them
  • Encourage readers to ask questions for the speakers or share their views on a topic. Approve comments at regular intervals and respond where feasible.
Post event:
  • Read through the blog posts, correct errors if any and add additional information if required/where possible
  • Edit and upload photos and videos. Tag concerned people, if not already done. Add descriptions.
  • Send a note to each speaker stating his/her session summary has been published as a blog post.
  • Check on the net for other individuals who might have blogged about the event. check for media coverage. Thank them for their coverage.
  • Study the blog traffic, its popularity in Google for event related keywords and other technical aspects
  • Respond to all comments, collect feedbacks
  • Send out a detailed report to organizers
Let me know if there’re any tips/best practices I might have missed.

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10 comments:

Rajesh said...

Wonderful post. Very useful insights.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rajesh

Lakshmi Rajan said...

Good points and strategy. I have not live blogged any event so far, will check again whenever I intend to. :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

LR,
Sure. Thanks

hari said...

What about using a simple note pad and pen for quickly jotting down points you want to blog about? Many things can be noted quicker that way and you can blog in peace and quiet later.

Having to use a laptop or a system in the middle of a presentation or a seminar must be quite cumbersome!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Hari,
Notepads are fine for shorter ones, but for full day event, the amount of text/points would be too much and you'd need another day if all of them are to be typed again and published online.

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