Posts Tagged Events

Have you ever experienced an event disaster?

Posted by on Sunday, 29 June, 2014

Event DisasterYou know those events when it’s really a case of Murphy’s Law? Whatever can go wrong will go wrong. It’s a total event disaster.

Recently I had my first. I’ve had some major mess ups during events, all the allocated seating mixed up for a very high profile speaker comes to mind. But none where nothing went smoothly. Really, I mean nothing.

Let’s look at what I learned.

The Do’s of an Event Disaster

  • Do order swag, etc at least two weeks in advance. It was only a three hour drive away, but eight days wasn’t enough for USPS express delivery.
  • Do promote the bleep out of the event. I was a little timid directly inviting my AMA colleagues and former workmates. Next time I won’t be.
  • Do reschedule if Hillary Clinton and the North West Internet Advertising Group announce last minute events that clash. The NWIAG gets a couple of hundred marketers with the lure of free alcohol. It’s not a model I like, but it’s very popular in Seattle. OK, so the chance of this happening again is nearly 0%, but I’m not risking it.
  • Do check out the venue at the time you want to run the event. I’ve attended events on Tuesday nights there. Wednesday is trivia competition night and the audio is piped ALL through the venue.
  • Do tour EVERY room the venue has. We checked most, but were allocated a different one. It was next to the entrance – great – there was no barrier/door – not so great.
  • Do have a great draw. This was an easy networking happy hour, so we weren’t offering anything to counter the competition.

The Don’ts of an Event Disaster

  • Don’t assume that if someone registers they will attend. Generally most will, but especially with free events, if they get a better offer, you won’t see them. See: NWIAG.
  • Don’t assume a part description on Amazon is correct. Or maybe do order the VGA adaptor for your laptop early, so you can get a replacement if it doesn’t fit.
  • Don’t assume that because the venue has built in AV that they know how to use it, or the cables are long enough. It was only a promo loop, but we couldn’t use it.

It would be hard for another event to bomb as heavily as this one did, but please learn from my “experience”. It’s not fun to have an event disaster.

Note: you’ve probably assumed this photo is not from “that” event. It’s from a PSAMA Speed Networking event, that was not a disaster.

Are you ready for #HootUpSEA?

Posted by on Sunday, 1 June, 2014

#HootUpSEAWhat do HUG, MUG and #HootUpSEA have in common?

They’re all user groups.

What’s this? You haven’t heard of #HootUpSEA? That’s because it’s new. The Seattle HootSuite users and friends are having their first user event, or as well call it, #HootUp. It’s also my first public activity as a HootSuite Ambassador for North America.

Join us on Wednesday June 18 at Fado’s Irish pub in Pioneer Square for Happy Hour. There will be marketers and social media people, along with others, sharing tips and ideas over a drink. And, it’s a #HootUp so I can promise you swag. We also don’t discriminate. If you don’t use HootSuite, we’d still love to meet you.

Space is limited, so please RSVP quickly. It’s free.

See you there and keep hooting.

PS, special thanks to fellow #HootAmb Kim Castlemain for the photo.

How to Live Tweet Events and Conferences

Posted by on Sunday, 28 July, 2013

Live Tweet EventsA new, but essential part of any event communications plan is Twitter. Not just in the lead-up, but during the event.

But how do you live tweet events?

It takes time and planning. These tips should help.

Before the event

  • Allocate team members

I recommend having at least one dedicated person per session. Two if it’s a panel discussion or important keynote. Panels are tricky because the conversation isn’t linear and it can be hard to work out who said what. Also, keeping attention on the speakers and the concurrent conversation is exhausting. Don’t under-estimate it and allocate the person multiple tasks. Believe me, I’ve tried.

  • Equipment

This is where people have differing opinions. I prefer using a laptop, but there are pros and cons for each option. A laptop allows me to jump between screens and applications easily. Its keyboard is also easiest to type fast on. However, if there’s no wifi, I can’t switch to mobile data.

Tablets and smart phones have the advantages of data and being compact. I’ll often use these when I’m tweeting as an audience member. They just aren’t as nimble and it’s more difficult to access any notes etc that you’ve pre-written. More on those below.

No matter which way you go, don’t forget to fully charge it AND bring any power cables with you.

  • Software

This is another area where you have a myriad of choices: HootSuite, Sprout, TweetDeck (for desktop), and more. I’ve found HootSuite and TweetDeck best for live tweeting for their layout. Multiple, customizable streams on one screen makes it easy to see what’s going on and plan your tweets. TweetDeck uses for links, so stats record into Sprout Social, which I use the rest of the time. It also have a new live update feature; it’s good to get the information quickly, but a bit dizzying.

  • Notes

Preparing notes before the event will make your day so much easier. In a word doc note down all the speaker names, bios, Twitter handles etc. If you can get their presentations, do it! You can pre-write tweets and include any links the speaker may reference during their presentation. It’ll save you time and make your tweets more shareable. Doing all this in Word means you can copy and paste quickly. Others will be tweeting too. To get the best result, you need to be first and accurate.

  • Data versus WiFi

WiFi is more reliable and faster, but not always accessible. Make sure you ask for passwords and test the connection beforehand.

  • Choose a hashtag

Decide on the hashtag before the event and publicize it. The hashtag should be unique and descriptive – don’t forget people outside the event will see it and may join in. Search the hashtag to ensure no-one else is using it.

During the Event

  • Introduction Tweets

Don’t forget to start off by introducing the event, announcing the hashtag and thanking any sponsors. Letting your followers know that you’ll be tweeting about the event will minimize their annoyance if they’re not attending.

  • Quotes and Sound Bites

Only tweet quotes that your followers will find interesting. This will maximize retweets and engagement. Attribute quotes, where possible, using the person’s Twitter handle. That’s where the notes come in. Think like a journalist when choosing quotes. If it would make a great headline, it’ll make a great tweet.

  • ReTweets

If an attendee tweets a quote that you missed, retweet it. You won’t catch everything, so they can fill the gaps. Also, they’ll get a kick from you giving them kudos.

  • Engagement

If you can, interact with the audience. There’s a lot going on, so ask questions during the speaker change overs or during meal breaks. Favorite takeaway tip and best speaker are good things to ask.

  • Panel Discussions

There is no amount of preparation to make this easy. Even having the questions beforehand won’t work. The conversation will be wibbly-wobbly, people will speak over each other, and you’ll be listening for the next sound bite while you’re tweeting the last so attribution is tricky. Mistakes will happen. Don’t stress about them at the time, and sent corrections and apologies immediately after the event or discussion.

Post Event

  • Closing Off

At the end of the event, tweet thank yous to speakers, attendees, participants and sponsors. Invite everyone to keep the conversation going via the hashtag.

  • Save the Tweets

Tweets have a short lifespan, so export them immediately. Your Twitter app should have an export function. An Excel file makes it easier to search and analyse them.

  • Statistics and Analysis

Your Twitter app may be able to do this, or you can manually analyse the tweets in Excel. If you’re using Excel, the sort and filter functions are brilliant. Pivot tables will be tricky because you’re only counting snippets within the tweets, not the entire cell.

Useful things to count are the number of total tweets, number of tweets by you, number of tweets by audience members, number of retweets, number of mentions, number of times the hashtag was used, number of likes, and the number of unique users participating. You could take it further and add number of clicks or sentiment, but all of this takes time and some analyses take more time than you get benefit.

  • Tactics Review and Lessons Learned

Think over what you did and how you would change it for next time. It could be to have a back-up person to cover breaks or to have a second person help during a panel discussion. Chat to your colleagues and trusted audiences members for their thoughts.

Would you add anything else? Please share in the comments.

Photo Credit: IABC/Seattle

WordCamp Seattle – Afternoon Sessions

Posted by on Tuesday, 11 June, 2013

This time I ventured out a little more. Apologies still to those I missed.

Other Pages
Early Morning
Morning Sessions

Images are also available for download and printing at I don’t mind them being used, please attribute and/or link back to me.

WordCamp Seattle – Morning Sessions

Posted by on Monday, 10 June, 2013

I stayed in the User/Blogger stream for the morning, so apologies for not getting photos outside that room.

Other Pages
Early Morning
Afternoon Sessions

Images are also available for download and printing at I don’t mind them being used, please attribute and/or link back to me.