March 27, 2012

#BCconf12 #CSR #conference wrapup and awards

I've been to four Boston College corporate citizenship conferences over the past eight years. Was this the best? Difficult to say. Sometimes it was right on and other moments missed the mark. At least there were no embarrassingly bad presenters, wildly unprepared or dreadfully boring.

The Phoenix Sheraton downtown put on a smooth event without technical difficulties. Good food was efficiently served, the spacious meeting rooms were clean, sound and video were high quality and reliable. Overall, quite pleasant. The only drawback was sharing the hotel with a Reebok conference, which meant the gym and the bar overflowed with people. At least the people were pleasant to look at, for the most part.

The plenary speakers were a mixed bag. While lessons and innovative approaches were scattered throughout the keynotes, I found them long and at times tedious. A bit like extended infomercials for the sponsor companies' CSR programs. Interesting but not necessarily relevant to my work or tied to a bigger picture. The lesson to be learned from the combined keynotes was unclear.

And now, some unofficial awards. I couldn't attend every breakout session. I hope those of you who attended others will add thoughts in the comments. Or, better yet, blog you thoughts and post a link in the comments.

Most surprising mind twister: Coinstar (who owns Redbox). I found myself challenged by Nicole Trimble in the session entitled, "Innovation in Corporate Citizenship." The way Coinstar is thinking of how vending machines can solve some seemingly unrelated social problems should challenge us all to expand our thinking about our own products and services.

Most directly relevant factoids: Net Impact answered the question, "How important is citizenship to the employees, really?" Their statistics from a recent study show that college students value job security and career growth opportunities as non-negotiable, but they also think positive social and environmental impact are important. Employees also want "my job" to have a positive social or environmental impact much more than they care about a company's overall citizenship reputation. Employees who have some social or environmental impact are more satisfied in their jobs by a 2 to 1 ratio. Compelling statistics, and there were plenty more.

Most unfearful: Jennifer Silberman of Hilton Worldwide took her comments the farthest and was most open of all the presenters I heard, going into detail on some thorny reputation issues the company faced in a session called "Managing Corporate Citizenship as an Essential Part of Reputation." Very helpful, and I wish I'd gotten a chance to thank her for her candor.

Most gracious response to a clueless question: The entire panel of the "Engaging stakeholders through social media" session gets this award for not slamming down the guy who stood up and said, "I don't care about Facebook and am new to Twitter. Can you tell me how to use it?" The panelists also did a good job of detailing some internal and external social media campaign examples, giving the audience a good "social media in marketing 101" seminar. Considering how few people were tweeting from the session, an intro seminar seemed like just the right fit.

Worst tweets: I love that you're jazzed about the session you're attending, but please do not tweet this: Sitting in a session listening to Tom, Dick and Harry! So excited!

Best tweets: Too close to call. A dozen or so people tweeted at the #BCconf12 hashtag throughout the conference, and I found it helpful to hear what was happening in other sessions I couldn't attend. You can go look at all the tweets and decide for yourself. I found a few new tweeps to follow in CSR, that's for sure.

Best schwag: Also tough to call. I'm going with Dell, who gave everyone a $25 Global Giving gift card. The chocolates from Hershey's and the Target freebies were very cool and deeply appreciated, but the charitable gift card is just a touch more classy.

That is all. What did you think of the conference?


PJD said...

For a much better summary of the conference, go here:–-International-Corporate-Citizenship-Conference.

Kenda said...

Glad you enjoyed the conference and thanks for all the great feedback Peter. We take it very seriously and see if we can make next year's conference the best ever!

PJD said...

Thanks, Kenda! I know you all take it seriously, as do the attendees.