A Call To The #Eventprofs Community

by Lindsey Rosenthal, Adrian Segar and Traci Browne

After almost a week full of hurt feelings, anger, resentment, and personal offense, we decided we would like to reframe the discussion at hand. It is time to talk not about beliefs regarding live-streaming, virtual access or confidentiality, but time to discuss our future – the future of #eventprofs – and whether this particular debate was important enough to let our community down. It is not. Therefore, we are asking our community, our friends, our colleagues, and even our acquaintances, to push the pause button on this topic and rally our spirit toward a common goal – healing.

Members of #eventprofs are all fervent, forward-thinking leaders of our industry, advocates of pushing the boundaries and creating better experiences. This is bound to cause contention. There is room in this community for different views and passionate beliefs, but the time spent criticizing each other to no productive end seems like a disservice to all that we have to offer each other and the rest of the world looking in.

We are in no way dismissing the important voice of the community by asking to table this conversation. It is a conversation that can and should be had about the nature of our events and the inclusion of our community in those events. We are adamant that each and every voice should still be heard and feel comfortable speaking their piece. However, with emotions running high, constructive conversations are difficult to come by and seemingly not worth the investment of time, energy and heart that comes with this discussion. Don’t stop writing your blog posts, your comments, or your opinions about events and EventCamps. The community wants to hear your thoughts; however, we are calling upon you to help us proceed to a better future.

The silver lining for each of us dealing with this controversy is learning how very much our friends and colleagues care about the #eventprofs community. The passion and dedication behind each comment and blog post gives us hope that we will be able to concentrate on more important issues, such as the future of that community, and work together to create a welcoming environment for new members and a supportive atmosphere for those already invested.

It’s time to move forward. It’s time to heal. This is a time for celebration of all that we have accomplished and all that we will continue to work on. This is a time to work together, not against each other. We hope you will accept this call to action, not to quiet your voices, but to work toward a common goal, just as we have decided to do.

 

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12 Responses to A Call To The #Eventprofs Community

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention A Call To The #Eventprofs Community | EventCamp East Coast -- Topsy.com

  2. I may have a different point of view from most. Due to issues with using computer communications other than via voice recognition software, I have had limited time or capacity to engage in #eventprofs discussions or other social media for several months.

    I attempted to participate in the Twin Cities event camp proceedings but was generally unable because the demands for memory required by my software competed with the high demands made by the software used to stream the proceedings and PowerPoint presentations. This was frustrating, and I’ve been meaning to convey this to the people putting it on, who probably don’t know that there are accessibility issues with their platform.

    I also could not travel easily to Philadelphia for the same reason. I kind of hoped that there might be some online or virtual links, but my hopes were not high because of my experiences in September with Twin Cities. Several people had encouraged me to come and participate — so I feel that the opportunity had been fully offered to me.

    I was a participant in the original EC 10 in February, and I felt that that was a privilege and an excellent experience.

    I am clear that each of these events, by design, was architected and built with different visions by different visionaries.

    Since I have been out of twitter and out of the event camps/event profs conversation stream, I don’t even know what the arguments are or the camps that have been styled. It’s distressing to know that battle lines have been drawn.

    I felt I gained a great deal reading about the event through Samuel Smith’s blog entry: http://eventcampeastcoast.com/2010/11/19/a-call-to-the-eventprofs-community/. I look forward to reading more feedback from others.

    Let’s learn from each experience. One of the learnings is that though hybrid meetings have their place, face-to-face will never die! This was an opportunity for people to experience a new way of holding a conference for the particular purpose of working together. Not all conferences will follow this track, but there should be no proscription from holding an experience which is keyed off of the physical participants, even if others may want a different experience.

    Anyone who has their own idea for how An Event Camp should be held, should be the very next to raise their hand to hold the next one, and that way we can see bloom a continuing array of options.

    Experiment on dudes!

  3. EventCampEC says:

    Deborah,

    Thank you so much for sharing your views. It’s so important that we are able to hear all experiences in order to create better events and learn more from each other. I appreciate your insights and your help to look at this from a different context. I think you hit the nail on the head with your comment about battle lines being drawn – and we too hope that we can bring the community back together and further enrich our experiences. We truly wish you could have attended #ECEC10 and I hope to see you at some point soon!

    One quick note for all of you readers – I believe (and correct me if I’m wrong Deborah) that the link to Sam Smith’s post that was supposed to be pasted into the comment above is actually located here: http://interactivemeetingtechnology.com/2010/11/15/event-camp-east-coast-unplugged/

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Lindsey

  4. Connie Phillips-Gilbert says:

    I’m not 100% sure what exactly has transpired, but we cannot allow different views and opinions to disrupt the ultimate existence of eventprofs. As an event marketing professional/consultant, I have personally witnessed the highs and lows in this industry. There was a time when event planners were considered to be “order takers.” It is imperative that we not lose momentum. As a community, we now have a voice. Organizations respect us as the industry experts, and we are shaping the future of events. Kudos to the “movers” and “shakers” who sacrifice their time and effort to organize such events to engage, educate and promote eventprofs. For every one successful thing, there was a period of trial and error before perfection.

  5. EventCampEC says:

    Hi Connie,

    Thank you for leaving such a brilliant comment. I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that this community is much too important to let it be “disrupted,” as you so smartly deem it, by one discussion – and that it is “imperative that we not lose momentum.” Our hope is to keep building a solid community and work toward a brighter future in all of our careers. Thank you for the kudos and I sincerely hope to see you again soon on a chat or face-to-face!

    Thanks for your input,
    Lindsey

  6. Heidi Thorne says:

    The format of the ECEC conference was peer driven, “unconference” type sessions… and multiple sessions. So livestreaming would have been a logistical challenge and large expense for sure. As well, let’s consider this: If there were virtual attendees, should they have been participating in the topic selection process? And then how do you get them to participate virtually? On a speakerphone? Live videofeed from their end? Bottom line, it wasn’t an event that lent itself well to a livestreaming format.

    ECEC was not advertised as being a virtual/hybrid event. However, I do believe that there should have been some more detailed explanation of the format of the event which may have preempted some of the confusion and controversy, particularly because the Twin Cities event had been so interactive with the community outside of its walls. Twin Cities was also more of a presentation style format which works well with livestreaming.

    If livestreaming is going to be a requirement at ALL future Event Camps, then that has to be part of the agreement by the organizers when accepting the licensing of the Event Camp branding. Any costs for that, not picked up by sponsors, must be passed on to attendees. Period. And that includes virtual attendees.

    All of us are in the event planning arena and costs must be covered. Please don’t think I’m a bad human here, but a community is NOT a charity. I think that if future Event Camps are to be livestreamed, virtual attendees must also register/pay to participate, especially since the costs to livestream are incurred because of them.

    I would not be opposed to offering certain activities, such as a keynote session, as free livestream to generate interest for future attendee prospects and to connect with standing community members in absentia. That is reasonable and recommended.

    Like it or not, successful events must be profitable (or at least break even) events. None of us would dare tell a client to run their event or tradeshow in the red to benefit those who don’t attend in person. So why should we do so as a community of event professionals? Sure, sponsors who could pick up the costs or provide the livestream service can be recruited. But what if that doesn’t happen?

    So I say: 1) A decision must be made about whether a requirement to livestream future Event Camps should be instituted; and, 2) A cost to participate virtually must be established.

    Now let’s move on…

  7. Paul Cook says:

    I really enjoy the #eventprofs community. It is one that is blessed with people who are passionate about the events industry and who do make a difference. Now I haven’t been to any of the Event Camps to date but from a distance I have participated in one way or another – even through people that have been to the events. It has been my privilege to understand more about the camps and to get to know some of the #eventprofs along the way. What talent and great people I keep coming across. Whatever the issues were (real or imagined) I do sincerely hope that this community continues to push the boundaries. I for one will continue to play my part wherever I can.

  8. Debra Roth says:

    Growing Pains! Part 1 – EventCamp!

    Ok – I have a thought on this and let me try to express it!

    I am an #eventprof – I am an Events Professional happy to be a part of the general Event community (which covers a very, very broad term of EVENTS) and I am very happy to be a part of the #eventprofs community.

    This last week our community has had a lot going on. Between our #eventprofs founder looking for more direction and the EventCamp community catching some disparate opinions particularly about streaming and privacy, I would say what we have here are GROWING PAINS!

    Now we can look at Growing Pains as a problem – A power struggle? Fences going up and sides being formed? Or we can embrace the fact that we are a group of passionate people that have come together over our common interest (face to face interaction through live events), with many of us meeting through the social media and particularly Twitter and our chats.

    Ok, so I said it, it is out there.

    My point of view about EventCamp: is this: Somehow we have created an exclusive event within our own community. We have the people who experienced ECEC10 and we have those who were “left out”. This is fantastic! Here is the challenge: How can we harness this feeling so that we can share this with our clients and the events that we create? Wouldn’t you (or your client) be ecstatic to have those who did NOT go to your event or conference clamoring to know what happened within? Of course the sign up and awareness for the next incarnation should create much more interest. So my question is how DID we create this exclusivity? (Even if it was inadvertent) How do we harness, bottle and sell it?

    I would like to hear what you have to say!

    • Traci Browne says:

      I love this Deb, you are so right on. The fact that a bunch of people wish so badly they could have been there…or feel they have missed out is what we should be learning to replicate.

      I don’t attend these event camps to hang out with a group of friends for the weekend. That is certainly a bonus but not the reason. I come to learn ways to make my events better. Oh how I wish a spent days on the phone fielding angry calls from people who so desperately wanted to be a part of the event.

      So what is it about this we can replicate? I don’t think there is one magic pill. This type of clamoring did not happen over-night. First there was a strong community where, as we’ve learned from comments, everyone felt welcome, respected and was able to get support and help from one another. Then there was a face-to-face event that not only gave us new ideas but built on that on-line relationship. We became actual friends and colleagues. For weeks after all we heard was how wonderful it was to be there. Then there was another event less than six months later. Not enough time for people to forget the first experience.

      At that second event there were new faces and several old ones as well. There was a virtual component that was so well done it showed hundreds more people how successful the event was. People took home more ideas, made more new friends and colleagues and couldn’t wait for the next one.

      EventCamp East Coast rode the coat-tails of that event. By now word was out. You just had to be there. The event was not just about learning new ideas but about making lasting relationships. Something that would make you move mountains to be there.

      My question is how do you create an open and nurturing community like Eventprofs. You can get good insight into this by reading “Brains on Fire”. I believe this is a very key piece to the puzzle.

      The event piece is easy. What makes these last three events so great? These events are not in anyway about an organization, administration, a theme, a mission, egos or an establishment. They are only about learning what will make events just that much better. It’s all about the attendees and what they want and need.

      How much time do we spend thinking about out attendees compared to the time we spend coming up with themes and logos, politics, sponsors and vendors, committees, etc. I’m not saying these latter pieces have no place in our planning but they should never usurp the needs and wants of our attendees. Our events should also be focused on fostering community.

  9. Tahira Endean says:

    Excellent comments all around. I was surprised actually when I saw this post on the weekend. As a new #eventprofs I have felt that the community has been very open, and I was thrilled with there was an opportunity to participate virtually in ECEC10, even if only for a short time, and that it offered a potential model for other hybrid events.

    I come from a family of educators, and this reminds me of the discussions we have had about “playground rules” and why this is actually the most important part of attending school – to learn how to play nicely. The reality of any playground though is that there are always the nice kids, the bullies, the fashion forward, the nerds, and the sporty types and there will always be some level of inclusion and exclusion. I have found though that within this event community there is no name calling, there is no bullying and while there is inevitably going to be competitors in the ranks, we all know how to get along and bring out the best in each other, and what we have to offer, to the community at large.

    I find it quite unfair to Lindsey, Adrian and Traci, who had the germ of an idea and grew it into a tree that has branched out and embraced new ideas and formats that all make sense in the context of all of us learning new event tools, and even if we couldn’t be there, there have been enough posts and blogs about the experience, why it worked and the challenges – from very honest perspectives – that we all have the opportunity to learn not only about the tools but about how to bring them into our own events when appropriate.

    From what I have seen in the past three months an amazing group of people have built an awesome community and darn it, we should just all be a little more appreciative. Take a page out of the #TR30 manual and focus on the bigger picture, as they have done. Please.

  10. Melanie Taylor says:

    First off I just want to once again thank Tracey, Lindsey and Adrian for pulling together such an innovative event. At times it feels as if the success of Event Camp East Coast has been overshadowed by the negative discussions which have materialized among the #eventprofs community. If nothing else, we have shown we are a passionate community and I would certainly be bored by a group of professional that agreed all of the time. However, it has been very disheartening to bear witness to some of the discussions which have taken in the immediate days/weeks following the Unconference.

    I am able to see many sides of the argument as I bring three different perspectives; that as an #ectc10 Virtual Attendee, a newbie in the #eventprofs community and a face to face attendee at #ecec10. Having the exposure as a virtual attendee at #ectc10 is what got me energized to become a more active participant in the #eventprofs community, excited about Event Camps and drove me to sign up for Event Camp East Coast.

    I will admit that I did not know what I was getting into when I signed up myself and my team for #ecec10. Even though I read about Adrian’s model, as well as the focus on the face to face aspect; I was a tad taken aback by the “what happens at Event Camp, stays at Event Camp” direction which we were asked to take. Reading tweets by attendees at a program I am unable to attend has always been a part of my “lurker” twitter persona, not to mention I was so excited to be partaking in my first Event Camp that I WANTED to share, to tweet and to discuss among the community.

    That all changed once everything became clear to me and I really embraced Adrian’s Unconference model which he successfully implemented with this event! Imagine my shock when as a fairly new active member, I am left to read extremely negative and sometimes hurtful tweets by individuals who were not in attendance. They came is with such fury there was no time to explain, respond, or even have blog updates or summaries of what had transpired. Did I want to be a part of this community? Why was there so much backlash and negativity? Was this really more of a clique than I thought and would I even have anything to contribute to a group where they are so quick with the snarky comments and judgments? Those questions became even stronger in my head after I participated in my first #eventprofs chat. I walked away very discouraged, upset, annoyed… but yet a tad protective over my #ecec10 family.

    We must ask ourselves what image we want our new members to have of the #eventprofs community so that they are not feeling the way I did as a newcomer. We are all a part of the same community with the same end goal; to further our networking, meet industry thought leaders, obtain access to additional resources among the #eventprofs group, increase our knowledge and awareness, and maybe even meet a few new friends along the way. My hope is that with this letter and the time that has passed, we are able to achieve these goals and remember what brought us to #eventprofs in the first place.

    Melanie

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