This last Thursday and Friday I attended and participated in the Euroblog 2008 event in Brussels organized by Euprera – the European PR Education and Research Association. The symposium was very much an academic event with a lot of academic speakers and attendees, and less practioners (at least that’s how I experienced it).
That wasn’t a surprise though, as the event was clearly set up to try and have the academia embrace the need to change. Still, sometimes, I felt like I didn’t belong there. Now I don’t mean anything bad with this, there’s just a very clear gap between the way we all approach things. It made me think of trying/testing out the water in a swimming tool. If you’re a practioner like myself you will get ready for the pool, put your toe in to get an idea of the temperature, probably feel like it’s colder than you would have wanted it to be but you’ll get in the water anyway and start swimming. You’ll talk to other people in the pool, maybe about the water, or maybe about that new glide which you then try out as well. This is the way me (and other people) started their blog, signed up for Twitter, Friendfeed, etc etc. After the presentations from the academia, it became clear that they approach ‘the pool’ in a different way. They talk to people outside and next to the pool about the temperature of the water, use a whole bunch of metric equipment to test the water conditions, relate all that info to ideal human body conditions, etc etc (this still fully dressed of course) to work out a project trajectory to get into the water at some point in time.
And I know this analogy is a bit black&white, but I think you get my point. On Friday I sat on a panel myself that was a mixture between academia and practitioners and there the difference was less visible (on the panel itself). The discussion itself with the panel and audience was pretty interesting to me as well. It highlighted once more some of the fears but also strengthened the idea that there aren’t enough case studies to go by. At one point I feel this is just another ‘reason’ to keep away of change as long as one can. But as you (might) know from an earlier post I do feel we have to reach out more to get more people embrace the need to change so maybe we should just see what we can do about it – there really is more than just Kryptonite you know ;)
Don’t get me wrong, I did like the event. Some discussions where pretty interesting, some presentations like the one’s of David Jennings and Martin Oetting where very enjoyable and it was very good meeting up with the Edelman Digital crew: Steve Rubel, Marshall Manson, Rick Murray, … but also David Weinberger or Neville Hobson, the latter whom I met in person for the first time after being in several online conversations before.
Hi Chris —
You nailed it.
FYI, Jere Sullivan, the Vice Chair of our EU business who’s based out of Brussels said pretty much the same thing (and without a whole lot of sugar-coating) in his summation of the conference on Saturday.
We all agree that theory is fine, but from a practical perspective (in terms of what kids need to take away to leave school prepared to compete in this new communications world), it needs to be grounded in reality.
I think many of those who were at the conference get that, but there are clearly some who see this [social media / Web 2.0 / Society 2.0 thing] as a major threat to their tenured way of thinking.
Cheers mate. I’ll let you know how the Pierre Marcolini is received.
hey Kris, when I found out about the event I was actually surprised to see the academic swarm already flying over this blog world and gathering in a Euroblog conference.
But your feeling confirms my option not to attend. Because I had expected exactly what you describe. We both need each other though. If practioners don’t kick some ass and create successes and mistakes, there is nothing left for academics to be studied. On the other side without big thoughts and explanations with models, people would be less inspired to invent new stuff and kick ass.
However time is running so fast these days that is seems as if academia are having difficulties keeping the pace, and that is where a bigger demand for cases comes in.
To me it seemed that the academics at the conference are asking the big questions like “what is the future of PR” or “what are we going to do with these social media”…. While the practitioners “wonder” about those same questions but just go ahead and do stuff…
Still, I’ll repeat the question I asked several times at the conference: Where are the cast studies !
I know they are out there and know some of them so I’ll be setting up a kind of European “PRSocialMediaBoom” videocast with business partners soon… In the meantime, don’t hesitate to send them along to me…
pleasingly answers i like it