A real shame: Some great upcoming Sustainability / CSR conferences but no livestream

I know what I would love to do the next one and a half weeks. Starting today I would be attending the NetImpact Conference in Michigan until Sunday and then fly to New York to get to the BSR 2010 conference starting on the 2nd of November.

Unfortunately I can not attend. I, like many others I believe, have a lot of other commitments for this time period but at the same time are highly interested in listening to and  watching several speeches and sessions via a livestream. We in Europe would be an ideal target audience for this kind of livestream because we could participate online during the evenings our Europe time (I am living in the UK and the time difference would make this possible).

But there is no such possibility to do so with these really interesting upcoming events. And this is a real shame.

Conference organizers are missing a trick here in my view
Imagine the scenario that NetImpact or BSR would provide a fairly inexpensive livestream ($150-300 USD) for some selected sessions during the conference such as the key note speeches and Q&A sessions. I am not asking for a live feed for every session but just the ones that have the best global appeal.

Financially this livestream possibility could also be very lucrative for conference organizers in my view. They might not be able to charge vast amounts of money as they do for the actual participants (which is another topic for a post) but from what I know is the Return on Investment (ROI) for online participants at the rate mentioned above is not really something I would turn down as a conference organizer. In my view conference organizers at these two conferences are really missing a trick here. Both financially and in terms of participation.

It can be done – Sustainable Brands 2010
This kind of online conference participation can be done as some other conference organizers have shown this year. One example was the 2010 Sustainable Brands conference which had this possibility of a live stream. I used this and I really enjoyed it.

We are living in exciting times when you look at the technology we already have at our disposal. It is therefore a shame that these two leading conferences do not provide and even attempt to engage a wider audience via this online participation even though we now have the technology at fairly inexpensive costs to do so.

This is my view on this and I hope some of the leading conference organizers will follow the examples of the last Sustainable Brands conference in 2010 and try to embrace the new age of technology by providing a livestream.

What is your view?

Picture Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/4389124180/

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  1. Personally I think that streaming should be free, especially for CSR conferences, even though I'm sure that there are people willing to pay for this does not mean that you should ask for payment. Think about the potential viral effects that it could get without payment. Think about best practices that could reach a bunch of people that wouldn't have had a chance to implement otherwise. Thus I would include free streaming in my CSR for CSR conferences.

    Let's create an atmosphere where sharing is more important than profit. From that everyone will benefit in the long run.

    1. I totally agree. It would be great to have more free of charge conferences. But I guess that is exactly what organisations such a NetImpact and BSR do not want unfortunately as these conferences are a huge portion of their annual revenue. 🙁

      1. That's indeed a problem. A sort of tragedy of the commons. But I'm sure that there could be a way of differentiating the streaming. First of all, one of the most important things in a conference is the contacts you make, when streaming you only get the knowledge. With that knowledge in mind, maybe there could be a platform for those who would like to get to know the other people who are watching the streamed connection.

        I'm positive that there are other ways of avoiding this tragedy of the commons as well.

        1. Very good points. I think we could also find a middle ground. Maybe social media and the way how these organisers get certain payoff (traffic, Facebook likes, Twitter RT's, etc.) from this could be a way how to incentivise them more to provide more free content coverage.

  2. Fabian, I completely agree with you. I'd add that for a CSR conference with an environmental component it is key to mission to offer a virtual event in tandem. Why encourage more people to hop on planes, when they can watch from the comfort of their offices?

    1. Very good point. I am personally always trying to limit my travel to events that in my view are only really necessary. Unfortunately this then also means that I am missing some of the really interesting networking and sessions. Finding a balance with going and not going is not easy if you care about your carbon footprint.

    2. Exactly the first thing that came up in my mind as I read that the sustainability conferences have no livefeed- it's like convening a local organic farming co-op meet in a fast food place.

      I get it about real life conferences- networking face to face is sometimes the bigger benefit from these conferences. However, the option to be able to participate at least passively in these conferences online should be always there. It's win for everyone.

  3. I totally agree with you. Of course, think particularly of those from the developing countries who wouldn't have the chance to gain vital knowledge and network by attending these conferences. How then can they implement these fine CSR ideas. Indeed, an atmosphere of sharing is more important than profit if we are to undertake sustainability with a global approach.

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