BootCamp Pittsburgh Wrap-Up
This past Saturday, dozens of bloggers, podcasters, students, teachers, politicians, small business owners and even a few senior citizens joined us at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh for BootCamp PGH. Considering this was the first warm Saturday (77 degrees!) of the year here in the 'burgh, we're quite impressed that so many people preferred to spend their day learning about social media instead of catching some sun.
- 176 registrants
- 130+ attendees (including a number of walk-ins)
- 8 hours
- 23 sessions
- 250 mugs from Guru.com
- 200 gourmet pretzels
- 1 Bostonian (Chris Brogan)
- 1 Canadian (Tommy Vallier)
- 1 Tennessean (Matthew Ebel)
- 3 after-parties
How It Went
As a co-organizer of the event, I was confident in the quality of our schedule. We had sessions covering the basics of blogging, podcasting, web design and social networking, plus branding, monetization and new business opportunities.
Most attendees stayed throughout the day, which was great. Attrition at a daylong event can be high, but we layered the sessions in such a way that the more specific information could be covered after the "bare basics" sessions were out of the way.
(And after lunch...)
We also found a way to Ustream some of the sessions. It wasn't an exact science, but it definitely created a buzz from attendees and presenters alike. (It also led to interesting audience feedback, like the moment when Steve Garfield -- watching from his home in Boston -- disagreed strongly with information presented in one session.)
Now, local events like this can become worldwide at the click of a mouse...
No Money, Some Problems
Because this was a bare bones event, we purposely chose NOT to overburden ourselves with the hassle of sponsorship. That didn't mean.
One unusual predicament: at an event like BootCamp, which is aimed at the true newcomers to the field, it's entirely possible to offer sessions that DON'T appeal to longtime bloggers and podcasters.
Our solution? We set aside a room called the "Mentor's Lounge" (really a cel animation lab), which was intended for use by folks who wanted to pursue one-on-one follow-ups to vexing questions. What it ended up becoming was just as interesting -- the "default hangout" for folks who weren't drawn to a specific session but instead wanted to chat with other attendees in a low-stress environment.
Aside from a few minor tech issues -- janky projector connections, internet login drama and a faulty mouse -- the event ran quite smoothly.
How'd We Do?
We won't know that for sure until we send and collect the post-BootCamp surveys, but informally, it looks like we did pretty well. I've already received individual feedback from several attendees who experienced the same inspirational jolt that most folks get from PodCamp, which means we must have done something right.
Ideally, this means a LOT more people are now properly prepped for PodCamp Pittsburgh 2 in August...,
What Happens Next
THAT, I'm very interested in.
A lot of attendees were not currently blogging or podcasting, but were very interested in finding out how they could get started. That's perfect, because that's what we were there to help with.
I'd like to see what everyone takes away from the event, and what kinds of new (or old but now updated) blogs and podcasts we see created in the very near future.
As for us, the planners, we'll step back and confer. We'll figure out, based upon audience feedback and observation, what went well and what needs to be improved. And we'll update the website with feedback, reference materials AND the numerous videotaped sessions (we're editing and encoding them this week).
And then we'll turn our attentions toward PodCamp Pittsburgh 2 -- which is a mere 4 months away...
Oh, and next time, we'll probably order a little less food. There was a LOT left over, but Jia Ji from Guru.com and Mike Woycheck from Wear Local made the smart decision and donated their overages to charity. (We're talking soda, water, sandwiches, pretzels, bagels, danishes... the works.)
Special thanks to our volunteers (Rachel, Josh, Erik, Ann, Jim, Rick, Jessica, Scott, Andrea, Amy and everyone else I'm probably forgetting) AND our sponsors -- Guru, WearLocal, Big Big Design, Something to Be Desired, Spreadshirt, The Maryland Zoo and, of course, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh...
... where we hope to see everyone again in August at PCPGH2!