I loved this years SAScon. It’s not just a bunch of SEOs together – it’s search, analytics and social media under the same roof and I really don’t ‘get’ why more PR people don’t go.
I guess being based in Manchester is a double edged sword – it’s a long way from the south (I’m based in Reading, and the direct trains take just over three hours, the ones with a changeover slightly longer) but the payback is a city that has every bit as much to offer as London in a really friendly environment. To offer just one example, I couldn’t eat the lunch because of the ingredients. No rolled eyes or ‘cats bottom’ pursed lips. Not only were the staff at MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) more than happy to go and check the contents, but offered immediately to make me a sandwich. There was plenty of salad, which they could just as easily have pointed me to, but they really went the extra mile. I like Manchester and the people there.
I digress. I was there on a discussion panel on ZMOT (Zero moment of truth), and to blog for State of Search (with colleague Jackie Hole and another couple of other State of Search bloggers). We were asked to blog the five main points of each session. Sometimes we achieved it, sometimes we didn’t. The stand out one for me that I attended but didn’t blog was ‘Social Media meets PR meets SEO’, moderated by Judith Lewis, which was incredibly interactive and very well moderated, and being at the end of the day was hard to blog but easy to follow. (For me the art of a good moderator is someone who’s done their homework, and these guys genuinely had.)
Here are the two roundups on SAScon at State of Search:
Day one: http://www.stateofsearch.com/day-1-of-sascon-2013/
Day two: http://www.stateofsearch.com/day-2-sascon-2013/
It’s on the #SAScon hashtag on Twitter.
The dust has settled and I have had time to think. Marketing is becoming more converged, but the specialisms are becoming more sophisticated: the challenge for the future will be understanding who does what (and it’s all very fuzzy around the edges), and managing across the disciplines. Whilst we can afford to be generalists right now, the level of understanding we may need to actually perform these tasks to a level of excellence is so in depth that maybe the time of convergence is passing, and the specialists will shine.The skills for the PR – and other digital disciplines – in future will include:
- understanding what other digital marketing disciplines do and how to measure them
- understanding the interface between online and offline
- learning how to manage and work with other specialist agencies
- networking with people in other specialisms so you know who to go to.
In terms of what we deliver, best practise has never been more important. We don’t know what’s around the corner, and sure as hell it will be something we haven’t yet conceived. Staying abreast of what’s happening is important. SAScon is a great and inexpensive way of helping yourself along that path.