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Last weekend I attended a conference in Manchester called New Media Europe. I learned about the event through Chris Ducker (regular readers will know that Chris is one of three people I’m following this year). I saw New Media Europe as an opportunity to kill a few birds with one stone:
I’ve been to various tech conferences over the years and I really enjoy them. Truth be told, technology and marketing are where my heart really lies, so even though I work in chemicals and attend events in the chemical industry, I feel much more at home surrounded by people working with digital media.
New Media Europe 2015 was on over two days – Saturday 12th and and Sunday 13th September. I liked the fact it was on over a weekend because it wouldn’t eat into my working week and all the attendees had to be ‘committed’ to attend over a weekend. It had a relaxed atmosphere (which probably had something to do with it taking place over a weekend!) and it was well organised. The venue was the Midland Hotel on Peter Street, Manchester.
I stayed at my parents house on the Friday night as it’s closer to Manchester than where I live in Chester. Saturday morning I woke up early and drove to Manchester. I parked in the Great Northern NCP. I arrived a little early, so I thought I’d chance my hand and see if I could check in to the hotel. I stayed at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate.
I particularly like this hotel and normally stay here at least a couple of times a year. I find the service is brilliant and it gives you a unique perspective of the city which you can’t get anywhere else in Manchester. Unsurprisingly, my room wasn’t ready to check into (I was 8 hours early!) so I dropped my bags off with concierge. I was, however, given free lounge access that morning which allowed me to grab breakfast. This was a nice touch – they didn’t have to do it – which comes back to what I said earlier about the level of service.
I don’t have time to write a review of every presentation I saw over the course of the weekend, nor do I have time to say thank you to everyone I spoke to individually – there are simply too many! What matters is that I came away with some really good ideas to implement at my company and had a blast the entire time I was there.
One thing I loved about the event is the general ‘vibe’. All the attendees were involved in digital media in one way or another, be they amateurs or professionals, podcasters, bloggers, vloggers, consultants, affiliates or other general business people like myself. It was a real mixed bag and everyone could see things from a different angle.
Another great thing about the event was how intimate it was. The speakers included a number of high-profile people. I’ve been to conferences in the past where speakers are hidden away behind the scenes and only venture out to do their stint on stage, then retreat back into hibernation, much like a band would at a concert. New Media Europe was the opposite to this – all of the speakers were around over the weekend and you could simply go and chat with them. What’s more, everyone seemed really down to earth. I particularly enjoyed meeting Jonathan Tilley (one of the nicest blokes I’ve ever met), Cliff Ravenscraft (an authority in the field of Podcasting), Amy Schmittauer (who, as well as being an authority on vlogging, is also quite gorgeous) and, of course, Chris Ducker.
I’ve seen quite a bit of Chris Ducker online so I was quite excited about meeting him. I listened to his interview on the New Media Podcast where he mentioned his favourite whiskey (Macallan 12 Year Old) and I decided to take a bottle for him as a gift. It was just something by way of thanks for all the content he’s been putting out. It went down particularly well.
There were some nice little touches at New Media Europe; all attendees received a free notepad, pen and stickers, not to mention refreshments and lunch. The evening meals weren’t included – but if anything this was a good thing because it got people together outside the venue which was great for networking. There was also an event on the Saturday night called the UK Podcasting Awards, followed by a few (or in my case, quite a few) drinks at the bar where I exchanged more business-cards-per-minute than ever before. One thing which came as a pleasant surprise was the number of people who told me they had listened to my interview for New Media Europe.
While there are too many people for me to list who I met and exchanged ideas with I should give a specific thank you to Mike and Izabella Russell who organised the event and Peter Billingham who did an excellent job as MC.
On the whole, the event was fantastic. It was a great size, small enough to be intimate yet large enough to meet a wide range of people who all had their own experiences and perspectives to call upon and discuss ideas. I will definitely be going to the one next year, although I’ll be more strategic about where I park next time. When I got back to my car £34 for one night which I thought was scandalous; I’m glad it was a company expense!
See you next year 😀