GCARD made truly public
Social Reporting at the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development GCARD2010
“Social reporting makes a conference space truly public”, says David Wilcox, a journalist who came up with the term of “social reporter” as a useful label for a mix of social media tools and face-to-face activities. That’s exactly what a team of 10+ professionals aimed at during the Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development GCARD2010 that took place in Montpellier, France between 28 and 31 May, 2010 and where it was all about communicating the need for a fresh start to agricultural research for development and including many stakeholders that weren’t able to join the face-to-face event.
After having coordinated and facilitated the e-consultations of the GCARD process, I was in charge during the conference (May, 28 -31 2010) to coordinate the social media activities at http://gcardblog.wordpress.com. While I was used to a rather informal social media work where a group of volunteers gathers insights, captures video testimonials, takes pictures with amateur cameras, blogs and tweets along rather personal criteria of quality and substance, this time I found myself surrounded by a highly professional team of journalists (Burness Communications) and photographers. And I learnt what a difference this can make!
The perfect media mix, the right tone
Together we decided to summarize as many sessions as possible, and to use those summaries for the blog as well as for a daily newsletter that was printed out each morning for the conference participants. In addition we featured videos that had been taken in advance by GCARD in three countries around the globe (Uruguay, Bangladesh, and Kenya) and that represented excellent testimonials of stakeholders. We also included daily wrap-up posts where we highlighted the sessions through pictures and quotes and videos from the sessions. Finally we did some “Voices from the corridor” posts where we captured some feedback from behind the scene. The blog was directly fed with the pictures and tweets. Twitter was used to promote the blog but also to report live from the session through quotes. Vimeo was used to store the videos.
We had some discussions about the adequate tone for our blog posts foreseeing possible tensions during the conference discussions. At the end those worries were unjustified: The openness of the debates and the friendly atmosphere that all stakeholders brought to the event made it easy for us to document it in a transparent manner. The NGO statement and the statement of young researchers, as well as other critical testimonials were published. We also linked to and promoted the critical analysis that was done by the international media. Farming First and YPARD partnered on twitter and through a guest blog post.
17,657 hits in 8 days
In the 4 days of the conference a team of 10 documented the event: Together we published more than 50 blog posts, and tweeted around 150 messages. 780 pictures have been uploaded to Flickr and 46 videos have been posted on Vimeo. The GFAR Web team assured constant mirroring of the blog and the website.
In the week of the conference (including the two days that preceded and followed it) the blog received 5517 visits. From the 150 tweets that have been shared, 60 tweets have been re-tweeted. Among the re-tweeters are @agrobiodiverse, @farmingfirst, @gcard2010, @ruralinnovation, @faonews, @unicef, several CGIAR centers, and many individuals. In the conference week the number of followers on Twitter has switched from 168 to 203. The 46 videos have been seen 1724 times. The 780 photos received a total of 10416 views, which demostrates the need and success of visuals.