We’re in the midst of Internet Week and yesterday, my firm hosted an event, which I planned and managed.
For those that aren’t familiar, Internet Week is a festival celebrating NYC's thriving Internet industry & community. It’s been growing in notoriety and popularity since 2008, and takes place at locations around the city. The result is a critical mass of web-focused events that raise the profile of NYC's industry as a whole, as well as the partners who participate, according to their site. This year’s event was chock full of panels, parties and mucho networking (with more than 65 events on Wednesday alone).
My firm hosted a panel discussion and wine tasting at the chic Bar Basque and had some real social media luminaries on board. Our President of Digital Communications, Chris Perry, led a conversation on digital curation* and how to curate remarkable experiences online. He was joined by Lot18 co-founder Philip James, Foodspotting’s Soraya Darabi (who has nearly a half million Twitter followers) and Mediagazer’s Editor-In-Chief, Megan McCarthy.
They debated the question, “In an age of information overload, how do you find the best of what’s out there?” Exploring how technology and human insight have enabled digital curation on a grand scale for brands and media makers, they discussed how to tap into community tastes in creative ways, and use these powerful new mechanisms to captivate consumers’ attention – and spend.
It was an interesting discussion and when all was said and done, it was a great event... but there were certainly a few snags leading up to it. For one, this was all planned and executed in less than three weeks and at times, it was a mad scramble. There is much that goes into a successful event and venue hunting, negotiating, invite copy & design, guest list, RSVPs, getting the word out are just a few of the obstacles we encountered. Once that was in place, everything went along smoothly (maybe too smoothly) until the day of the event.
We arrived at Bar Basque a bit early and went straight to our reserved area – a gorgeous roof deck encased in glass. I immediately knew something was off when I walked into a wall of heat upon crossing the threshold. We were informed that the AC was broken (on the hottest day of the year), but it “should be fine if all the windows are open.” We retorted and said that the breeze was hot and people would just melt in that space. After some fluttering around, the manager came back and said they would move us into the small-ish lounge area, where it was a bit (a tiny bit) cooler. The staff scrambled to get things moved and set-up went right until the event began at 4 p.m.
Right on time, the guests shuffled in and were quick to chat, eat and drink. It seemed that things were going as best as can be expected until it was time for the panel discussion. The introductions went well, but a few minutes in, audio technical problems began to emerge. The mics were going in and out, the sound was low and every once in a while, an ear piercing mic-squeal would penetrate the room. My colleague and I scrambled to find the manager, or anyone that could help, but no one of authority was in sight. And the servers were useless with no accountability or helpfulness or friendliness. We survived the panel, though, and the speakers didn’t seem too bothered by the issues (my colleague and I were much more disturbed).
The rest of the event went smoothly and the crowd of 100+ seemed to have a great time. Of course, being the event manager, I didn’t expect to have an easy, fun time, as that position has much responsibility, pressure and self imposed (and unrealistic) goals of perfection.
The lovely folks at Lot18 sent me home with a bottle of their nice Pinot Noir (as you can imagine, the reds did not move as quickly as the white and rose did) and I was very appreciative. I arrived home sore, sweaty and absolutely exhausted. While it was an earlier night (home by 7:30 p.m.), things like that are absolutely draining!
I got a good night’s sleep and am now ready for tonight’s event…the PRSA Silver Anvils.
Should you be dying to learn more about digital curation, my firm published a primer, which can be found here.
*By definition, digital curation is the process of creating repositories of digital content for current and future reference. Curation is widely enabled through hashtags, lists and aggregation platforms like Storify, Magnify, Curation Station, News.me and many more. In each of these examples, curation is managed via tech-enabled service offerings, metadata or keywords to capture and present relevant content.*