When I first set up as an independent digital media consultant I had a grand vision. It was one of social and digital media training that was actually beneficial to those taking part! Training that was skill and knowledge-based. Training that was grounded in the real world of social communications rather than in a theoretical nirvana.
People said I was crazy. They said it couldn’t be done. “You’ve lost your marbles”, they mocked. “You’re living in cloud cuckoo land. Look around you at all of the available courses; The People don’t need practical help, they want theory and lots of it. That’s what The People want.”
OK, I jest. But two years on and that grand vision is finally becoming reality with the launch of Digital Download, a fully interactive social media event for public relations, communications and marketing professionals that is part training, part workshop and part conference.
I’ve devised lots of training courses over the last couple of years. Courses for PR agency personnel and courses for in-house professionals; courses lasting a couple of hours and courses lasting a couple of days; courses for two people and courses for twenty people.
And I’ve loved seeing people enthused and then hearing their stories as they’ve put what I’ve taught them into practice.
And so when, a few months ago, I started to consider the idea of doing something on a bigger scale, the challenge I faced was how to transfer the personal approach of the training courses I run for ten people into an event for fifty or a hundred people.
The problem with many (all?) existing digital media training courses and communications conferences is that passively listening to others in a stuffy auditorium for six hours isn’t conducive to learning. The way to learn is to do and to ask; to be involved. So I wasn’t interested in producing yet another social media seminar to further clog up an already cluttered calendar.
But I’m delighted to say that with Digital Download, I believe I’ve done exactly what I set out to do.
It’s an event that’s intended to provide real, practical action plans. There are Q&As with topic experts that, to an extent at least (as if I don’t have backup plans!), rely on the input of the audience. There are presentations that provide the opportunity to think and discuss. And there are a mix of formats to keep things interesting, including four ‘lightning talks’ on digital creativity where each speaker has just five minutes and twenty auto-playing slides to get their point across!
In a word, Digital Download is collaborative. In two words, it’s collaborative learning.
Ignorance Killed the Cat, not Curiosity
Digital Download covers some of the biggest issues occurring in social media, digital communications and public relations right now. Topics such as SEO, fake news and trust, influencer marketing, evaluation, automation and artificial intelligence, all with one eye on strategy and one eye on practical implementation. And it will encourage you to question everything you hear both on the day and following it.
In something of a coup, I have a session with US author, blogger and highly-respected public relations pro Gini Dietrich live from her office in Chicago; the first time she’s ever taken part in a UK event despite having been a regular keynote speaker at US events for years.
And I have an hour-long, real-time social media crisis simulation in conjunction with Polpeo that I know from experience is nothing short of full-on! It’s something that you simply have to be a part of to believe, and something that companies pay thousands to run in-house.
Add to that contributions from the likes of former CIPR President Stephen Waddington, seven-time PR author and US university professor Deirdre Breakenridge, top marketing blogger Mark Schaefer, SEO for PR expert Stella Bayles and tech communications wizards Andrew Grill and Neville Hobson, and Digital Download has a line up that I believe is unrivalled at any UK PR or communications event.
I’m extremely excited by it. It’s an untried concept at this scale, but if it’s well-received I hope to roll it out on a regional basis later in the year. For now though, the first ever Digital Download will take place in Oxfordshire on 9th February. I really hope to see you there!
Tickets for Digital Download are ON SALE NOW. Due to the interactive nature of the event, places are limited to 50 people so early booking is advisable. Multi-ticket discounts are available, as are discounts for freelancers and solo practitioners.
You can purchase tickets and find more information, including the full agenda, at www.paulsutton.co/digital-download-oxford