Cafe Witness

Monday, October 20, 2008

Post-PodCamp Pittsburgh 3: 5 Ways to Gauge an Event's Success


First off, thanks to everyone who attended PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 this past weekend. Although we haven't tallied the final check-in numbers yet, all practical indications (like perpetually running out of food) point to this being our largest and most well-attended event yet. (Either that, or everyone got a free tapeworm in their swag bags...)

Also, as one of the event's primary organizers, I can never thank my fellow organizers enough. I know how much work went into planning PCPGH3, and even though things never run 100% smoothly at any event -- much less one involving technology -- I'm exceedingly proud of how well things came together this year. Everyone did a great job and I'll be very happy to work with all of you again next year... after we all hibernate for a few months.


After throwing a huge event, I think there's a temptation on the part of the organizers to pat themselves on the back and say, "well done." But when it comes to social media events like PCPGH3, we won't *really* know how well we did at organizing the event until several months from now, because the long-term impact of education-based events like this can't be measured immediately. We have to see what people DO with the information they learned here.

So, in the meantime, here are 5 Ways I'll Be Gauging the Success of PCPGH3:

1. Attendance -- Although we had our largest number ever of pre-registered attendees, we'll need to tally the final head count before we know if our active numbers are actually increasing or remaining stable. The good news is, I didn't recognize about half of this year's attendees, which means we're definitely bringing NEW people in. (Also, weather plays a factor in attendance, so don't judge a summer event straight-up against a winter event, etc.)

2. Press Coverage -- If your event is a success in the eyes of the attendees, they'll talk about it afterward -- in our case, via blogs, Flickr, Twitter, etc. The more we see, the more we'll know that the PCPGH3 experience was share-worthy, and that's always a good thing.

3. Who Follows Up? -- We're holding a smaller, informal gathering on Wednesday, November 19 @ 7 PM at the Firehouse Lounge in the Strip District. Our goal is to support the conversation (and the community) that coalesces every year at PCPGH, but then seems to recede as the months intervene between events. Knowing that people want to keep the discussion (and the activity) alive beyond an annual clip is a good indicator that the ideas they encountered at PCPGH3 have traction.

4. Who Takes Action? -- Since PCPGH is an event designed to help people learn more about creating web media, it follows that we like to see our attendees creating newer, better things all the time. The long-standing content creators here in town won't be fading out anytime soon, but for the dozens of attendees who don't yet blog or podcast, who among them will start experimenting and reaching out for help when they need it?

(One great way to stay involved is to join the newly-created OMGPittsburgh blog, launched for us by Bostonian weekend-expat Chris Brogan live at PCPGH3.)

5. Who (or What) Will Become Next Year's Success Story? -- A year ago, none of our attendees had been a finalist for major web awards like the Bloggies or the Yahoo Video Awards, but this year, that (twice) changed. So did the idea that you can't invent a new word and have the public take notice (bacn, anyone?).

So will someone else take the lessons they learned (and the relationships they built) at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3 and use them to build the next killer app, the next red-hot web series or blog, or even expand their business? If they do, then the concept of PodCamp Pittsburgh as a reliable incubator of game-changing ideas will live on.

How do YOU think we did at PodCamp Pittsburgh 3?

Photo by Locobone, who would have made this available under Creative Commons License if he'd thought about it... ;)

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  • Thanks for the linkage, Justin! I had a great time and ever since I've gotten home my mind has been reeling w/ where I want to go with everything I got out of this weekend. Harrisburg seems pretty interested in creating a podcamp of our own and I've got about 5 different websites/projects on my to do list now :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:51 PM  

  • It was awesome Justin! There were some terrific sessions. I hope to make it back next year.

    One thing though... some of the really popular sessions were a bit crowded. Not a big deal this year but if next year is much bigger...

    By Blogger Blake Imeson, at 9:46 PM  

  • Hey Justin,

    I liked the event a lot and blogged about it on both my travel site and my writing advice site. For me, the best part was getting to see all the people who are interested in social media. I had some really fun conversations with you and Chris Brogan and other people I met during the sessions I attended.

    Two things I would add for next year:

    1. Have at least one dedicated mentor actually stationed in the mentor room for each session, so attendees can go in and ask questions.

    2. Have at least an hour that is designated as a mixer during the day time conference hours. Maybe an outgoing volunteer could act as host and instigator.

    Thank you so much for putting together this awesome event.

    Melody Platz

    By Blogger Melody Platz, at 10:23 PM  

  • By Anonymous Conrad, at 2:08 AM  

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