Conference Blogging Policies Need Updating

Conference blogging continues to fill a strange niche. In many ways, conference tweeting is overtaking it; far more people actively tweet events these days than blog them. Events I’ve participated in have taken a mixed approach to welcoming bloggers, from those that treat bloggers like press to those that don’t welcome them at all.

I was going to take part in one event recently as a blogger, and then I saw this message:

There will be reserved seating for bloggers in the front of the ballroom. Please note that live video streaming of the event is prohibited. And while we welcome your comments and analysis of the event via your blog and Twitter, out of respect for the hundreds of people who have paid to attend the conference, we request that you do not live blog a “running transcript” of the event.

In short, the policy rubbed me the wrong way. I had a long exchange with the person who sent it to me, and the policy held firm. I wound up not attending the event.

Here’s an excerpt of my response:

…When I have to sit there and wonder if I'm covering a session too much because it's really interesting, it's just not worth my time, and it sets a really bad precedent. It's like I'm getting censored because I type too fast and the content's too good… While many bloggers wouldn't care about the restriction since they wouldn't try to live blog it, it does set a dangerous precedent.

Meanwhile, if people who aren't there think they can get their money's worth from an event by reading a transcript – not even a verbatim, completely comprehensive transcript at that – perhaps you should cancel the events and sell the transcripts. That's not where the value is, and as a blogger I'm only adding to it, both for those who attend and those who don't, rather than taking anything away and diluting the value.

I’m leaving the name of the event out as I don’t want to malign the conference organizer or the event, both of which I respect. But I do want to hear from others who have blogged conferences if you’ve seen policies like this or any other. Do you know of any event policies that others should emulate? Have you ever declined attending an event as a blogger because of its policy?

7 thoughts on “Conference Blogging Policies Need Updating

  1. Hi David,
    You did the perfect. And, thanks for mentioning it here. Further, I don’t know about this policy as I have not being attended such conference.:)

  2. I'll actually be in Egypt during this year's Blog World, and while I'll miss the event, thanks to all the great coverage from people there, at least I'll get a good taste of the event even while I'm on the Nile (okay, I might not be checking Twitter TOO much from the Nile).

  3. This comment was not sponsored in any way by Blog World and New media Expo. LOL Thanks David and I hope to see you in Vegas again! Briong a camera your laptop and whatever else you can bring to get our message out.

  4. Brilliant article David — agreed on all points.
    I was recently at an event that neglected badges. For the entire day, people stared blankly at each other without interacting. Cards were not exchanged, bonds were not made, names were instantly forgotten. Somehow, an event that should’ve been an awesome networking opportunity became a really long lecture with a lunch break.
    I’m putting this one on my link-it-rather-than-rewrite-it list!!

  5. Rick, Douglass, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments.

    Meanwhile, as for Rick's comments, I've had the honor of speaking at Blog World, and it is a really special environment, one where everyone's a content creator, very open, and there to learn from each other. I've made a number of friends there, and highly recommend it for anyone who's remotely interested in the subject.

  6. Good for you for standing firm to your convictions. This is very ‘old school’ thinking – thinking that those who hold the knowledge hold the keys… and the money. Knowledge is free – and anything found at the event can be found online. Ultimately, though, a person who takes the time to promote the content from an event is providing free marketing for the event. If I read a bloggers’ transcript of how amazing an event is, I look forward to going.

  7. Good post David. You raise good questions for all event organizers. As a long time exhibitor, attendee and event organizer I would humbly suggest while BlogWorld will always remain a bit of an outlier due to the nature of our event and our attendees the policies we have in place will eventually be the norm for all conferences.
    The policy is simple expect everything that is said or done at our event to be blogged, tweeted, recorded in both audio and video and uploaded to the web. We make a point to tell all of the vendors at the convention center this in our pre-con meeting. Believe me it gets their attention.
    You are absolutely right that the overwhelming amount of content created and distributed by our attendees adds huge value to our event. It will take some time for all conference organizers to get on board with this. They have done things the same way for a very long time but believe me they are headed in this direction.
    There will always be some exceptions where speakers don’t agree to be recorded, or conference content has some sort of confidential nature but most events will be blogged, tweeted and podcast in the very near future.
    Btw what we realized from the beginning and what other conference organizers will come around to is that all of this content on the net increases the chance of more people attending the next event. With thousand of people talking about how great your event is, you get hundreds more tweeting and blogging how disappointed they are that they didn’t make it.
    Any conference organizer would kill for that kind of buzz marketing.
    Blog on!
    Rick Calvert
    CEO & Co-founder
    BlogWorld & New Media Expo

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