Here was my crazy idea: Those attending Ragan’s internal communications conference at Facebook could stay an extra day, and under a tight deadline, write story packages, with photos, about the event they had just attended.
Remarkably, 30 people signed up.
I called Eileen Ryan, a longtime Chicago photographer who works with us at Ragan Consulting Group, and enlisted her help. I told her I had no idea how this would go, and that it might be a disaster. Elaine said it sounded like fun.
Our idea was to simulate what life is often like for communicators on the go: hectic, disorganized, too much multitasking, too much information (or not enough), less-than-ideal light for lousy photo-ops, and a whole lot of unrelated demands.
It proved to be all of those things. The conditions were less than ideal. The communicators didn’t know their teammates before they arrived at the conference, and some had trouble connecting. We didn’t have time to meet with them before it all started (clearly a change I’d make if we ever do it again.) We threw a lot at them, including a couple of mock news conferences with the speakers.
It was an experiment, and not an entirely successful one. And yet, these intrepid reporters performed magnificently. On Thursday morning, Aug. 1, we gathered at the Hotel Nia, next door to Facebook, in a ballroom that would serve as our newsroom for the day. Fueled by coffee and tasty California nibbles (thank you, Ragan’s Becky Ahasic!), five teams got themselves organized, assigned roles and pounded out stories, sidebars and photo packages about what had transpired the previous two days.
Here’s a sampling of what they cranked out by 3 p.m. that day. Impressive work.
My thanks to the teams:
Team Won: Danielle Batsios, Jaycee Breese, Lauren Currenti, Jodi Duckhorn
Team Story Squad: Simone Esubi, Kathryn Fazekas, Kemba Ford, Angela Glasgow, Kim Iwanski
Team Tiger: Eric Johnson, Treneisha Jones-Gaston, Elizabeth Larson, David Lewis, Gianna Marx
Team Fab Five: Lauren Peterson, Brook Sherman-Schmieg, Sholanda Norman, Sharron Wyatt, Jenilee Szymanski, Jaime Horman
Team Word Nerds: Allison Teska, Jacquelyn Webb, Alicia Witters, Rebekah Carsey, Mac Daly