Brendan Hodgson » Events At the intersection of yesterday & tomorrow Wed, 14 Oct 2009 12:08:41 +0000 en hourly 1 H&K’s Niall Cook brings Enterprise 2.0 to Canada Mon, 29 Sep 2008 14:15:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson Author, colleague, fellow Collective Conversationist and H&K’s worldwide director of marketing technology, Niall Cook, has finally realized where the action is and will be joining the Canadian digital team in Toronto on October 7 and Ottawa October 8 to chat about his new book, Enterprise 2.0.

In addition to speaking to colleagues and clients during his brief jaunt through the colonies, Niall will also be shilling his new book… erm, I mean graciously sharing the insights of his research to interested social media afficianados… over beers at Third Tuesday events taking place in both cities - check out the deets for Toronto (October 7) and Ottawa (October 8).

227 words about Niall Cook (in his own words)

I am the Worldwide Director of Marketing Technology at communications consultancy Hill & Knowlton, with responsibility for the agency’s online marketing strategy and internal systems to maximise marketing and new business efficiency. I created the industry leading blogging policy for the firm and set up Collective Conversation, the first blogging community from a professional services company.

I frequently advise the agency’s Fortune 500 clients on the effective use of technology to support internal and external marketing strategy, having recently worked on projects for Allianz, HSBC and LG.Prior to joining Hill & Knowlton in July 2000, I held positions at the online currency, Answerthink Consulting Group, UBS and Reed Elsevier. I am also the founder and chairman of Cogenz Ltd, a company providing social bookmarking software for the enterprise.

I hold an honours degree in Typography & Graphic Communication from The University of Reading and live in Suffolk with my wife, daughter, two Hungarian Wirehaired Viszlas, one Tibetan Terrier, two cats and five chickens.

I am a frequent speaker and author on the topic of social media and social software, and was invited to address the Singapore Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts in 2006. I have also led the Ark Group’s Social Software in the Enterprise Masterclass. Other speaking engagements include the Institute of Fundraising’s national convention and the 2nd Annual Internal Communications Measurement Conference.

About Enterprise 2.0

Social software has taken the Internet by storm, fuelling huge growth in collaborative authoring platforms (such as blogs, wikis and podcasts) and massive expansion in social networking communities. These technologies have generated an unprecedented level of consumer participation and it is now time for businesses to embrace them as part of their own information and knowledge management strategies.”Enterprise 2.0″ is one of the first books to explain the impact that social software will have inside the corporate firewall, and ultimately how staff will work together in the future. Niall Cook helps you to navigate this emerging landscape and introduces the key concepts that make up ‘enterprise 2.0′. The 4Cs model at the heart of the book uses practical examples from well known companies in a range of industry sectors to illustrate how to apply enterprise 2.0 to encourage communication, cooperation, collaboration and connection between employees and customers in your own company.Erudite, well-researched and highly readable, this book is essential reading for anyone involved in knowledge, information and library management, as well as those implementing social software tools inside organizations. It will also appeal to marketing, advertising, public relations and internal communications professionals who need to exploit the opportunities social software offers for significant business impact and competitive advantage.


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David Jones talks Digital PR and H&K’s Approach Tue, 16 Sep 2008 15:53:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson My colleague David Jones is in Vancouver this week on behalf of his client Molson. He also made time to speak at the traditionally any-day-but-Tuesday Third Tuesday social media gathering (lovingly organized by Tanya, the Netchick herself, and Monica).

Gathering from what I’ve been reading from some of the bloggers in attendance – thanks in particular to Rebecca and Tris for their insightful summaries - he appears to have given a good showing, and articulated a number of important points with respect to how H&K approaches the social media space on behalf of our clients such as Motorola, Intel, Molson, and others, including:

  • the importance of continuous learning within H&K itself,
  • the challenge of communicating in an environment where every employee is now a potential communicator, whether they know it or not,
  • the fact that social media is rarely, if ever, a ”quick fix” or a campaign that can just be turned on and turned off (and we ensure our clients understand as such), and
  • that listening to and making sense of the conversation is more about hard work versus relying too heavily on the myriad shiny new tools that might only do half the job…

Ultimately, it’s about getting past the hype, and focusing on what’s real, achievable, and makes sense to our client’s business or issue… and it’s something that Collin, David, and myself attempt to evangelize every day.

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Employees, Social media and Reputation… A Month of Discussions Fri, 13 Jun 2008 12:40:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson June was never going to be an easy month, yet we’re nearly half-way through and I’m starting to breathe a little easier. Two conference presentations down, and two more to go – although the latter two will be more internally and client-focused which tends to make life a bit easier (he says, knocking wood).

Over this past week, Amanda Brewer, H&K Canada’s director of internal and change communications, and I have spoken at two events: the first being the 2008 CPRS National Conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the second being to the Council of Human Resource Executives in beautiful Quebec City (currently celebrating its 400th anniversary – I suggest you go. I hadn’t been to QC in years, and it’s as stunning as ever).

Although slightly different in their focus, the general theme of the presentations were the same: that social media and Web 2.0 is transforming the role of the employee as “brand guardian”. And while this transformation is creating opportunities to drive greater transparency and bring employees closer to those upon whom the company relies – customers, communities, partners, potential employees etc., it is also highlighting a number of potential risks and challenges with respect to employee behaviour online and the consequences that could follow, intentional or no. In the presentations we highlighted examples of companies who have done it right, and we explored examples of what happens when employees take it upon themselves to communicate on behalf of the organization through social media, to both positive and negative effect.

At CPRS, we dived deeper into how organized labour has adopted social media in their efforts to communicate their stories and messages beyond traditional media filters and mobilize their membership and supporters, and considered how corporations are (or should be) responding. In Quebec City, we explored how organizations could (and should) help to guide employees in their use of social media – realizing that the workforce of tomorrow will have grown-up using these tools as part of their daily lives. Both are areas of increasing innovation in public and private sector workspaces, and judging by the level of discussion that ensued, it’s an area of increasing concern to those who practice in these areas.

Interestingly, I also see these discussions as an opportunity for organizations to further bridge the silos separating HR and internal and external communications departments given the increasing visibility of employees as brand advocates. And, as always, when we talk about “tomorrow’s employees”, I started off by showing this video – in my view, a creative and powerful perspective of the changes taking place in our society and mindset. (kudos to Dr. Michael Wesch at Kansas State University)

Next week, I will be in the U.K participating in an internal conference on crisis and digital, and working with our network of senior crisis practitioners to ensure our counsel and strategies reflect the digital dynamic and the potential for digital tools to support organizational communications when the stakes are highest – much as we’ve seen during the California Wildfires, and recent campus shooting. Interestingly, the area of crisis is another where the potential for employees to both support or, unfortunately, harm an organization’s communications efforts is becoming increasingly important.

The week following, my colleague Boyd Neil and I will be in Vancouver (I get to spend a whole 16 hours in Ottawa in between, yay!!) where I hope we’ll be able to take some of the learnings from the UK and apply them to a joint presentation to a global corporation (and client) on reputation, issues management and the impact of digital and social media.

Then Canada Day… and then a long rest.

If you’re in London and are able to get together on the night of the 20th or 21st, do get in touch.

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Put 60 people in a room with beer and you’re bound to learn something… Tue, 06 May 2008 13:49:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson Another Third Tuesday is behind us and, like those before it, generated some interesting and healthy debate. And although intended to focus on “Shiny New Objects” (SNOs), last night’s discussion really did anything but – to the consternation of some, but not I think to others (myself included)… Key takeaways? In no particular order of importance, I felt they were as follows:

  1. It re-affirmed that while SNO’s are emerging every day, the reality is that the majority of our clients are only now taking their first steps into what might best be described as the “tried and true” – blogs, Youtube, Facebook etc. – for the most part because it is these tools that align best with their objectives, and where the most examples of success exist.
  2. It highlighted the challenge of co-organizing a meetup that attracts a broad cross-section of people who not only represent communicators experienced with social media, but also newcomers, designers, advertisers, developers, enthusiasts, those who work in the private sector, those who represent start-ups and not-for-profit, and those in government. Personally, I’m not sure we can continue to try to be all things to all people. At the same time, the networking is always fun.
  3. It hammered home that social media – within the context of my work (and that of many others) - must be viewed for what it is: an enabler of communication and interaction. More important still is the quality of the content delivered by that technology (be it a video, a blog post, a comment etc.) that makes that communication relevant, or simply turns it into “white noise”.
  4. It begged raised the question as to whether social media will ever be adopted in a significant way, within an enterprise context, so long as the application is in “permanent beta”?
  5. Not surprisingly (though I would certainly argue this fact), it demonstrated that social media in a corporate context remains, for many, an apparent contradiction (in their eyes) between the “motivations” that drives corporate behaviour and the social media ethos of transparency, engagement, and community.
  6. It clearly showcased the hunger among public servants to expand the use of social media more broadly within government, despite the apparent roadblocks (political and otherwise).
  7. It revealed Joe Thornley’s fascination with video – particularly when witnessing his attempt at getting those low-to-the-ground angles (double-chin, anyone)
  8. It gave as good as it got – and that’s something I think we don’t do enough of in this space. Glad to see we challenged each other.


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Crisis Communications and ‘Official Languages’ Fri, 18 Apr 2008 13:46:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson NIU pageI spoke at an IABC event last night on crisis communications and social media, and it prompted an interesting question (particularly given that many of the audience hailed from government organizations): How do you reconcile the importance of timely communications with the need to communicate in both official languages?

The question was posed by a communications advisor at a prominent federal agency. But it’s also a topic that has arisen several times in discussions with clients around the development of their crisis dark sites.

It’s an important question, as strict adherence to “official language” regulations could impact an organization’s ability to respond quickly to an issue.

Ultimately, my position – based on discussions to-date – is that  stakeholders will forgive uni-lingual communication if the effort is focused on pushing out vital information in as timely and transparent a fashion as possible. What they will not forgive is knowing that you intentionally withheld critical information for the sake of political expedience.

Granted, this deviation from “regulation” would tend to apply more to situations such as accidents or disasters whether man-made or natural, and where risk to health and safety requires rapid communication. Whereas, with a crises of confidence where a few hours spent ensuring communication in both official languages is coordinated, timing might be less of an issue. Likewise, this holds true in situations where you’re communicating more than a few lines or paragraphs that could easily be translated within minutes.

But when you look to how Northern Illinois University was, for example, rapidly updating their site as events of the shooting unfolded (see attached image), would anyone have complained if (and were this a Canadian institution obliged to abide by Official Language laws), they had only communicated in one language? 

Naive, perhaps? You tell me.

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Xmas Wish List for Mesh08 Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:48:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson So Mesh is back, and once more they are seeking the wisdom of the crowd to help guide their 2008 speaker selection… and while none of my (truly brilliant) ideas were picked up from last year, I’m hoping that perhaps my suggestions for 2008 – which while they fall mostly into the PR stream – are a bit more realistic…

Drum roll please:

  • Danah Boyd… because for most young people, social media is not about business. It’s about life in all its bad-ass beauty.
  • Case studies, case studies, case studies… they’re there, you just have to look for them
  • Trend talk I: building social networks that target more niche-focused communities
  • Exploring the intersection of digital and PR from a non-marketing perspective: reputation, issues management, crisis (Mattel, Beacon etc… the new role of employees as “brand guardians”)
  • Trend talk II: impact of mobile on social media and marketing
  • Per Joe’s suggestion, a panel (vs perhaps a single speaker) on measurement and metrics - because 4 minds will be better than 1 (as there are no real experts yet that have the answers… although we’re trying our damndest) and it could get all hot and bothered. Which is a good thing.
  • Trend talk III: Video (what’s old is new again)

Into the abyss, boys. Sorry I missed last years (although you got my money), but looking forward to 2008.

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Political blogger Stephen Taylor to speak at Third Monday (April 16) Thu, 05 Apr 2007 15:06:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson Who says media should be the only group allowed to muckrake and rabble-rouse? Thankfully, in this 2.0 world, we all have the power to rail against the political elite (or champion them) and challenge the primacy of the traditional media. And in Canada, political blogging is arguably one of the more popular pasttimes.

And, as in any area of interest, through their diligence, dedication, spirited writing, willingness to question, and no-holds-barred discourse, a few bloggers have risen to the fore as powerful players in their own right. In Canada, Stephen Taylor is one of those.

As co-founder of the Blogging Tories, Stephen is arguably one of the more influential voices in Canadian politics, and a welcome guest for our next Third Monday, on April 16, 2007.

When: 6:00 pm EST

Where: Fresco Cielo (Elgin Street), Ottawa

Please register (it’s free), and I look forward to seeing you all there (I may even buy you a drink):   

Technorati Profile

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10 steps to hosting a successful national digital practice meeting Wed, 04 Apr 2007 12:35:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson

Last week, about 20 H&K consultants from across Canada flew into Toronto to take part in our first digital practice meeting. It should be stated, the digital practice itself has been around a while (since 1999, in various iterations), we’d just never reached out to so many people before at one time. And, despite the stress of coordinating the event itself, it was quite something. Here’s some lessons learned:

  1. Invite kickin’ guest speakers to pick up the mood when 8 hours in a hotel conference room get you down. Fantastic job,guys!
  2. Intersperse your presentations / discussions with cool stuff from around the web… a dollop of Zefrank, some Youtube clips, real case studies, and a bit of a show and tell on the good, bad and ugly of social media.
  3. Save those cool sites to a page… it’s easy, and a good reminder of the application of these various tools.
  4. Brainstorm around real clients. The ideas were something else, and we’re already moving forward to apply some of the better ones.
  5. Invite the big wigs for dinner, especially if you’re able to convince Paul Wells to hold court. Get ‘em toasty, and they’ll be putty in your hands when you show them the bill.
  6. Splurge on wine at dinner, though maybe not $120 a bottle… that’s a joke, Mike… no, really.
  7. Have multiple back-ups when the hotel’s wireless starts getting finicky… damn that interweb!
  8. Don’t give booze as a thank you gift to anyone who has to fly and doesn’t have checked baggage.
  9. Don’t leave the booze that you couldn’t send unattended, though I do think it added some creativity to one of the break-out groups.
  10. Involve consultants at all levels who are passionate about digital (even though their passion might exceed their current knowledge and experience)… and have a plan to sustain the momentum moving forward.
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Third Monday tackles the Wild Wild Web Wed, 21 Mar 2007 20:43:00 +0000 Brendan Hodgson Love it or hate it, the internet is considered by some a slithery beast with few real laws in place to govern how it’s used or to protect the rights of content creators, distributors and consumers. Or is it?  

If you care to wrestle this python of an issue (and, of course, you should), why not tag along to the next Third Monday and hear Dr. Michael Geist’s thoughts on the topic. As always, it should prove an enlightening, if not raucous, debate.

68 words about Michael Geist

Dr. Geist is the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa. He is a prolific and thought provoking blogger and a columnist on technology law issues in the Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, and BBC. He is a must-read for opinion leaders, policy makers and others interested in evolving our copyright and legal regimes to promote innovation in the use of the Web. 

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