Golden Gate BridgeThe International Association of Business Communicators world conference in San Francisco may have been a little smaller than last year’s meeting in New York, but it was still packed with content and networking opportunities. Because of the global financial crisis (and the potential threat of H1N1, I presume), numbers were down but enthusiasm ran high.

Some highlights:

  • Neville Hobson’s presentation on creating podcasts to engage audiences reinforced much of what I’ve been saying about podcasting since 2005: It can be an extremely effective way to use the warmth of the human voice to share knowledge, insights and news with employees and customers. Neville is one of my podcasting heroes, as co-host of For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report.
  • A session by Lee Hopkins on 3D virtual worlds opened my eyes to the ways in which the Web is likely to evolve into a three-dimensional experience.  I’ve been quite the Second Life skeptic over the last few years, but Lee has changed my mind. Second Life may not be the application that gets us to 3D, but the trend is here to stay. Here’s a link to Lee’s presentation.
  • After the welcome reception at the historic San Francisco Ferry Building, the dinner for fans of the For Immediate Release podcast was a blast. We enjoyed fantastic food at the Town Hall restaurant, and much laughter among this lively group, despite the late hour for this Eastern time zone gal. Thanks to Neville and to Shel Holtz for their podcast and for organizing this meal.
  • The presentation by EXCEL award winner Brian J. Dunn, COO (soon to be CEO) of Best Buy, showed us how his organization is using multimedia (including blogs, video and Webcasts) to engage employees all over the world. With great humour, he described what he calls his role as “chief content officer.” I wish more C-suite executives shared his views.
  • Jason Falls and Heidi Sullivan’s talk on “Change management: how a social media strategy smoothes the bumpy road of managing online communication” was an information-packed hour on the need to adopt emerging technologies.
  • A panel discussion with Steve Crescenzo of Crescenzo Communications, Chuck Gose of Media Tile, Jeremy Schultz of Intel, Paul Barton of Hawaiian Airlines  and Dave Meyer of Bizzyweb made very clear the idea that dry, jargon-filled employee communications just don’t cut it any more. I managed to snag a podcast interview with Paul, who is director of internal communications at Hawaiian Airlines, about how he’s using podcasts to communicate with employees there. You’ll find this audio report on my Trafcom News Podcast blog.
  • David Grossman and Marty Campanello talked about internal branding as a way to present a credible, compelling and differentiating story about your organization, product or initiative that inspires and engages people and creates brand ambassadors who deliver the brand promise and speak out positively on your behalf. I love this concept.
  • The Dine Around is always a hit with IABC attendees, and this year was no exception. I was fortunate to have a lovely French meal at Le Charm with a group of communicators from various regions of the U.S.

Last but not least, here’s a shout-out to my IABC roomie Sue Horner, whose blog I highly recommend if you love the written word. Sue has written up her own highlights from the conference; her notes, as always,  are better than mine, so hop over there!

UPDATE: Some links added!

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