PodCamp Toronto diary

T’was the night before PodCamp,

OPI's Done Out In Deco

and all through the house,
the stench of perfume fumes,
entered my nose & mouth.
I picked out my outfit,
I straightened my hair
For I knew that #PCTO2011 would soon be here.

At 7 A.M., I awoke with a clatter
I am not a morning person, that’s what was the matter
I put on some makeup, got a granola bar
Tugged on my Frye boots, and hopped in the car.
Down Yonge St. I drove, to Yonge/Dundas Sq.
Wish I’d parked on campus, rather than the $20 I paid there
I wrote up my nametag, I found a few friends
We synched up our schedules, and so the day began.

(ok…I’m done with the cheesy #PCTO2011 poetry, I swear. A poet, I am not.)

My first PodCamp Toronto experience was unbelievable.  As a post-grad PR student at Humber and someone who is relatively new to the Toronto Twitter scene, it was a great opportunity to learn more about social media and meet some people face-to-face.  Here’s a recap of my day (bear with me, it’s going to be a bit lengthy):

PR Girl Fuel

Although I’d already picked up my signature Starbucks beverage on the way down to PCTO, I couldn’t resist the glorious scent of coffee (and the promise of more caffeine) wafting from the Aroma Espresso Bar station.  All I can say is YUM. It was the perfect blend to please the various palates at the event.  I’ll definitely be checking out an Aroma Espresso Bar location soon for more coffee goodness. (Bonus: They tweeted back at me almost instantly. Follow them on Twitter!)


My first stop was the Agency Panel moderated by David Jones. Since it was my first session, I was a little overwhelmed by all the information, but I did develop the teensiest crush on panelist Ed Lee‘s accent.  Check out his blog for the key learnings from this fantastic session.

After a stint in Die, Hype, Die, I headed over to the Corporate Blogging session with the rest of my HumberPR PodCamp crew. This lively panel gave some great insight on what it’s like to be the online voice of a major corporations.  With panelists from Rogers, KOBO, ING Direct & RIM, there was a breadth of opinion and even a few jokes (“Complaints? We don’t get those at Rogers…“).  What I found most interesting was the true focus on community. Regarding self-policing, one of the panelists remarked that you know you’ve truly built a community when they police negative comments for you.  Check out full coverage over at TechVibes.

My third session was one of my favourite of the day.  Presented by Jon Crowley and Dave Akermanis, The Internet Is Not Made of Hugs was hilarious, engaging and, most of all, timely. Inspired by a blog post Jon wrote earlier this year, the session focused on how, although it’s great that the social media community in Toronto is so supportive, we’re often afraid to doff our cheerleader uniforms and be constructively critical.

What the guys said is true: we’re far too afraid to tell people they suck. The only way any of us can improve (be it on social media, writing, or in life) is to have people tell us how to improve.  Far too often, people consider themselves ‘gurus’ (note: a no good, very bad word in social media) and get prickly whenever someone offers criticism or abandons the pack of sheep they’ve been leading over a cliff. This was obvious in a recent post where fellow Toronto blogger & tweep Zach Bussey dared criticize a blog post written by ‘social media expert’ Scott Stratten. To all those who criticized Zach for criticizing Scott: The internet is not made of hugs. Everyone needs a reality check sometimes (even the big guys).

Lunch at Chipotle's. My first time. It was glorious!
The Inside PR panel



Our next stop was a live-podcast of Inside PR.  The panel was stacked: Martin Waxman, Gini Dietrich, Joseph Thornley, Terry Fallis and David Jones.



I’d seen a lot of Twitter buzz about our next session, Naked Dating, likely because Melissa Smich & Jeremy Wright are members of the Toronto Twitterati.

Melissa & Jeremy before Naked Dating

The session focused on how using social media has made us all transparent, making us ‘naked’ when we date online. The duo kept the room engaged and entertained, handing out tasty looking cupcakes for audience participation. The session also sparked a debate between my partners in crime (Sarah Dawson & Dave Jones) and me about whether ‘coffee’ is just coffee or a date. Proof that people were taking this session VERY seriously was when a serious little lady in front turned around and chastised us for our giggles and conversation. (We never reached a consensus. Is coffee ever just coffee [when it’s not obviously professional or friendly]? Tell me in the comments!).

The panel on blogging integrity provided some excellent debate about whether bloggers should disclose when we get things for free, are biased, or  receive payment.  Lots of the audience members were very vocal, which made for a lively session.

Our final session of the day was Dave Fleet’s 20 Social Media Trends for Business. Definitely considered the must-see session of the day, Fleet’s followers filled the room, packed the hallway, and lined the floor of the room.  If you missed out, click through the SlideShare presentation below.  If you were there…do the same and relive the glory.

In short, PodCamp Toronto 2011 was amazing. It was great to finally meet some Tweeps in real life. Thanks for saying hello @ellerich @zachbussey @jkozuch @alexiseditor @smichm @debweinstein @andrewfstewart @inseansopinion @clickryan @boyreporter & more!
Our official PodCamp portrait - Sarah Dawson & I
An extra-special thank you to my PodCamp wolfpack @Sarah_Dawson @lchang8 @michelepclarke (& special guest @DoctorJones) and the PodCamp Toronto 2011 team for a fantastic day. I’ll be back next year!