Perth Concert Hall hosted yesterday's 'International Events Conference' - a biannual gathering under the auspices of EventScotland. In quick order, some of the key things I took home with me through the chilly, snow covered fields...
It was very good to meet familiar and new faces from Higher Education and Further Education in this field. This included Jane McQueen from City of Glasgow College (formerly Glasgow Metropolitan College before it merged with others); Jenny Flinn and David McGilllivray from Glasgow Caledonian University (@dgmcgillivray); Joe Goldblatt from Queen Margaret University; and, in a virtual sense after the event, Robert Gordon University's Events Management team (@RGUEvents).
The formal aspects of the event were mainly one-directional: lots of talks from the stage, no breakout sessions and fairly limited opportunities to grill the speakers. That made the lunch and coffee breaks particularly important, likewise the way people hung around after the event had finished until they couldn't wait any longer to run for their trains.
Of great interest to me was a talk from Mark Coyle: 'Editor, BBC London 2012, Online'. Mark spoke of the opportunities the BBC hopes to exploit with the coming of the London 2012 Games, a 'coronation' moment as so many people will be interested in accessing the many forms of output created by the Corporation. As such it can act as a catalyst for new technical development, a surge in take up by the public, an international audience and will leave a legacy of technical competence and experience that can be exploited by future events.
Other points from Mark's talk:
- The BBC are adopting a very strategic approach to 2012, looking for ways that the Games can help them reach a variety of objectives.
- And it's going to be a very busy year: the Games are not the only major events to take place, with the Cultural Olympiad, London Mayoral Elections, Paralympics Games also taking place.
- The 'coronation' event idea: a focus for much effort and potential.
- The BBC is keen to measure the demand for its services and their take up, comparing different events as a means of reflecting how and where people get access to BBC content.
- In the wider picture, the BBC is fully behind 'youview' - a form of video on demand (with a set top box) with backing from a wider variety of UK broadcasters. This is against a backdrop of mixed take up of broadband across the UK, where Scotland (and parts of Scotland in particular) don't come up very well, but this is an opportunity.
As for the 2012 Olympic Games:
- 24 video streams available to viewers in the UK
- A focus on helping people access what it is they're interested in:
> FIND: a means of searching and personalising the experience
> EMERSE: fully social in its ambitions, engaging viewers who can then contribute
> UNDERSTAND: recognition of the value and power of all that metadata, providing feeds to help others exploit it
- 'Seamless' viewing experiences: watching something at home, while travelling and in the office - pick up where you left off across these different locations and platforms.
- Torch relay: happening all over the country, yet designed to involve everyone; the BBC acting as the 'glue' which can make that happen.
Why use social media, what do audiences wish to get out of it?:
- Sharing is key: almost regardless of the platforms used for this, there is clearly a widespread enthusiasm for sharing that won't be going away.
- What is it people want to share?:
As host broadcaster the BBC has a duty to play its part in providing what audiences have said they want to get out of the Games: being part of a 'better Britain'; fun; opportunities; communities; finding new heroes.
In truth there was a lack of recognition about social media at the conference overall, which surprised me. No official hashtag was suggested and no mention of where or how to continue the conversation after the event. In my judgement that academia has been slow to keep up with the industry in this area perhaps I should have included institutions of other kinds. Fortunately, getting people into a room together it usually enough to get the ball rolling and they can take it where they wish - a good starting point on which to build in 2011.