I used to run a conference very similar to New Media Expo, but with a focus on the music business. It was the second largest music business conference in the country. Only SXSW was bigger.
Because of this, I’m hesitant to comment on conferences. I know the difficulties and the work it takes to do an event of this kind. My comments are not to criticize New Media Expo, but to give potential attendees an opinion on what they can expect as well as, should they be open to it, my ideas on how those running the event can make it better.
Why I Attended New Media Expo
I’ve been in the music business since 1995. Since that time, I’ve attended dozens of conferences. I’ve been to SXSW at least ten times and spoken there three times. And as I mentioned above, I ran a huge conference myself.
So I’ve seen a lot of events… And I know the power of getting like-minded people together in the same space.
That’s why I decided to attend New Media Expo. As I’m transitioning from my work in the music business to a more general market space, I thought it would be a great way to get connected with a new group of people. This wasn’t my first time at the event, but it was my first dedicated event, since the last (and only) New Media Expo I attended was attached to BookExpo America.
What I Liked About New Media Expo
Any time you have like-minded people in the same space, there is potential for something great. To me, the opportunity to meet, learn from, and be inspired by people working in new media was the best part of New Media Expo.
If you’re looking to meet people face-to-face, New Media Expo is a great place to do it. Not only is there the conference itself, there are multiple private events which are easy to get invites to. This year, there were breakfast meetups, afternoon mixers, and late-night parties going on each day of this event.
We call it “social media,” but the reality is the blogging, podcasting, and other new media, like most media, can be very lonely places. Most creators sit at their computers or in studios creating, without really seeing the effects their work has on people, aside from comments, emails, and reviews.
An event like New Media Expo allows people who publish work online to connect with others who get this. And if you work in the new media, blogging, or podcasting markets, and you’re successful at it, you’ll likely come face-to-face with the people who are consuming your work.
Meeting one great person is worth the time and energy of an entire event.
What I Disliked About New Media Expo
I felt New Media Expo was promoted as a high-end event, with the majority of attendees being full-time writers, podcasters, and video producers who were already having success. The panelists and speakers certainly were promoted this way.
While there were some people there who have great influence and are making great money via new media, the majority of people I encountered were beginners, many who hadn’t even started a blog. The majority of sessions I attended were very basic and many were disorganized.
“Ok, so how many of you are bloggers?”
This is how many of the sessions began.
It’s a new media conference — we have blogs. And we don’t need a lesson on how to signup for Pinterest. If you’ve paid $500 to attend a conference on new media, it’s safe to say you can figure that out yourself.
This was lacking in some areas. Let me give you an example…
Pat Flynn, who is arguable the most well-loved blogger in the new media world, was put in a small room, which filled up within minutes of the doors opening and left dozens, maybe hundreds, of paying attendees unable to see him.
Who planned that? It wasn’t due to lack of conference space, since there was a room 100 feet away from the small room that had five times the capacity.
The next day, this happened again at the session with Chris Brogan and Lewis Howes. Dozens of people were being turned away at the door.
Ownership of Problems
Let’s talk about the Platinum Sponsor, Marshall Sylver…
According to his Wikipedia page, Marshall Sylver is a motivational speaker, author, and performance hypnotist. Throughout the event, panelists and speakers would read his name as a sponsor. There was a hypnosis show the first night of New Media Expo as well as booth selling his information products in the trade show.
He was also a keynote speaker with a talk called “Making Massive Money in New Media.” One of the workers at his booth told me he would share how he was able to make so much money.
Sounds good, right? The only problem was that his presentation had nothing to do with new media and very little to do with anything other than NLP-type actions to wear down the audience for a hard sales pitch at the end.
But that’s not what I found frustrating… As a marketing guy, I love watching guys like Marshall Sylver. Because of this, his presentation had more value to me than most of the other sessions.
What pissed me off was how the staff of New Media Expo acted like they were surprised once people in the audience started complaining via Twitter.
Marshall Sylver has been around for years. He is all over the Internet. You know what you’re getting when you go see him.
And when you have a big conference like New Media Expo, do you really let somebody on stage without knowing what he’s going to do?
New Media Expo wanted Marshall Sylver’s money and they let him speak to a room full of attendees to get it, yet nobody owned that decision.
Who Should Attend New Media Expo
If you’re a new media beginner, you’ll find a lot of good information at New Media Expo. You’ll find a lot of other beginners to connect with and grow alongside.
If you market to beginners in new media, New Media Expo would be a good place for you do it. There are plenty in attendance and they’re ready to get going on their journeys.
Who Shouldn’t Attend New Media Expo
If you’ve been blogging, podcasting, or using new media awhile, much of the content at New Media Expo will not be for you. If you do attend, I suggest skipping the sessions and focusing on meeting people.
Whether or not you decide to attend New Media Expo, I encourage you to attend something similar. Events like this can be huge in your growth as a person and entrepreneur. If nothing else, you’ll find that you’re not alone.