If You Can Attend Just One Conference for Digital and Content Strategy, Information Development World 2018 is the One

In May 2017, I attended one of the best conferences I’ve been to in years. Having spoken at tons of conferences, I am often skeptical that an event will really impress me. Scott Abel has been active in the conference world for years, and he is a prolific thought leader. Information Development World 2017 was his attempt to re-tool the key ingredients of his previous conferences and come up with an entirely new recipe, while maintaining the quality of speakers and content. His final product set a new standard for how conferences should function: offer the best insights, within a digestible format, in a comfortable and inspiring space. Equally important, he has built a program that would speak to seasoned leaders as well as those early in their careers…a balancing act at which many events fail.

In 2017, I attempted to write a two-part review of my experience at Information Development World. I got the first part written. The second blog seemed to have “sprouted wings and left the premises,” to paraphrase Howard Smith’s character in the Twilight Zone episode, A Stop at Willoughby. When Rebecca Schneider and I launched AvenueCX in 2016, it brought many benefits, but plentiful time to write was not one of them. Following Rebecca’s advice, I kept the first blog from last year as is and did actually write that second blog, with the theme If You Can Attend Just One Conference for Digital and Content Strategy, Information Development World 2018 is the one! The gods and goddesses of content development answered my prayers, and this year Scott Abel (@ContentWrangler) and Val Swisher (@ValSwisher) are going to offer another much-anticipated event.

Information Development World 2018 Conference

Information Development World 2017 was exceptional for many reasons, but the programming, structure, and speakers were what gave such tremendous value to the attendees. Below, I offer a few more examples that highlight a diverse field of subjects, pulled together by a core structure. (Note: the examples below offer direct quotes and paraphrasing from their presentations).

Ken McCormick (@PrintMediaGuy) of Visual Identity provided an excellent case for why print media remains essential for any brand’s successful engagement with its customers in: Omnichannel Includes Print. Key takeaways:

  • A brand’s name is most memorable in print*
  • The best way to reach the millennial audience is to mail a physical letter via post to their office address
  • A commonly held perception that is actually incorrect is that print is in decline
  • An interesting factoid: Fact checking happens more with print, because print embodies a permanence beyond that of online content
  • Content is more intuitively navigable when it is on paper

*Ken offered references to the above claims, which can be found in his PowerPoint presentation.

Suzanne Baran (@baraness75) of Content Empress used humor, and experience from her years of working with global brands to offer some wonderful thoughts in Herding Cats: How to Master Digital Governance:

  • A good vision intersects business and user customer goals
  • Within a strong content maturity model
    • Time constraints don’t sacrifice high quality
    • Customer-centricity rules content decisions
    • Uniform standards and organizational buy-in are mandatory
    • Solutions leverage scalability as a benchmark in determining operational readiness
  • Media organizations created the blueprint to package content from the front lines

All business leaders should be required to sit down and listen to Paul Perrotta (@paulkperrotta) of Juniper Networks speak on about effective leadership and managing change in Understanding How to Introduce and Maintain Change. He packed more insights into a short presentation, than sardines in a tin can. Some key quotes included:

  • “Change management is how we evolve human behavior and governance within an organization; it’s a hearts and mind journey.”
  • “Culture of transparence is required for good change management and requires communication—both ways—between senior executives, leaders and employees.”
  • “Accountability is critical—if you don’t have a single name who will take arrows when it goes wrong, then you don’t have accountability.”
  • “A strong culture is critical; healthy and transparent communication builds it and is critical for effective execution.”

Toni Mantych (@tonimantych) offered real-world lessons on launching an enterprise content strategy based on her experience at ADP in Making It So: The Hard Work of Developing a Unified Content Strategy. Some insights included:

  • Forget your own ego, or the concept of a of business silo; content belongs to the user
  • Take a phased-approach to enterprise content strategy efforts
  • Enterprise content strategy requires a strategic maturity model with a bottom-up and top-down approach
  • Strategy enables agility and drives and enables innovation

Mirhonda Studevant (@okKMchef) of GitHub told the best story—mentioned in my previous blog post on the importance of empathy—I’ve heard in recent years in Empathy: The Special Ingredient for Compelling Content. Key takeaways included:

  • Empathy plays a key role in the decision to purchase: people often use emotions to make decisions and then use logic and reason to justify them
  • Be present, be open, be attentive, be quiet…all these are required for empathetic content frameworks
  • Writing with empathy improves reader engagement

And of course, many other great thinkers offered their wisdom:

In summation, I want to be clear that I was not paid or asked to write two laudatory blog posts for this event, in fact, I have never written two blog posts endorsing anything. I felt compelled to write them because I was so impressed by the quality and integrity of this event. If I were to recommend any conference in the near future, Information Development World in November 2018 is it. Also, for more specifics on this amazing event, be sure to read my first blog post on the matter.

Kevin Nichols Since 2006, Kevin has defined content strategy as “how to get the right content, to the right user at the right time.”

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