08/07/2011 – Telling the story of London’s advice sector digitally
We had the 4th London Advice Conference at the swish offices of Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf this week. I was very pleased to be asked to introduce our two key-note speakers, Tony Travers and Karen Buck MP, to kick proceedings off. They set the tone for the day brilliantly, with a compelling mixture of intriguing content mixed with some humour in appropriate proportions. They did not duck the difficult issues facing us all at the moment but I felt they really helped the delegates to relax and prepare for the rest of the conference.
This was a mixture of workshops, networking opportunities and a funders plenary panel to round things off. More than 100 frontline advisers and centre managers came along, and heard about all kinds of issues, including welfare reform, housing benefit changes, legal aid proposals, getting the best from volunteers, using technology to deliver better advice, charging clients for advice and using social media effectively. The conference was organised by advice UK, Citizens Advice, Law Centres Federation and Lasa, with funding from London Councils.
This year, we decided to try to utilise social media as a means of recording what took place on the day, with the help of Sound Delivery, a specialist digital media training, production and consultancy company. We briefed them beforehand on who was coming along, both delegates and presenters, as well as highlighting the kinds of issues we wanted them to cover. Then, on the day, their senior producer, Mark Ellis, worked with our Head of Policy, Paul Treloar, to secure audio interviews over the course of the day.
Mark was able to upload podcasts from speakers over the course of the day and we also tweeted these, so that people who could not attend could follow the conference proceedings and get a real flavour of the day. So by midday, we had the recordings from Tony and Karen out there, and over the afternoon, these were joined by interviews with Steve Hynes, Director of Legal Action Group, and Rachel Orr, London Campaigns Manager at Shelter.
Next, we're planning to draw these podcasts together with the many interviews that were conducted with the delegates during the day, so that we can circulate a complete record of the conference to everyone. This new experience for us felt like a whole new opportunity to utilise relatively low-cost technology solutions to bring about high-impact outcomes, in terms of talking about the challenges facing the advice sector and the opportunities for positive change.
As Noam Kostucki said in his social media workshop, why not try using social media tools to raise your public profile? After all, if this fails, no-one knows anyway but if you succeed, you might be surprised about where it can take you. Check out #lac11 on twitter for the record of our experience and let us know what you think.
Posted by Terry Stokes