I enjoyed my time at New Communications Forum this year, and the best thing was the "hallway conversation." A few of my favorites:
The UK Phillips: David Phillips (Leeds Metropolitan University) and Philip Young (University of Sunderland) were two of the funniest and brightest barroom conversants on nights one and two. David (man with the mike) also participated in the Wiki 101 workshop, and posed the mightiest of the "Five Questions": Is Marketing Dead? The good professor examined the cadaver while debating with half a dozen PR, marketing, and tech folks who remain unconvinced. But I am so impressed that our new U.K. professor friend is committed to making trouble in this area.
Dr. Jonas: Jonas Luster, the new "community manager" at Socialtext (Eastwick client) is wild and wonderful. I was amazed at his ability to weave in and out of dozens of little stories and lecturettes on brain science, social computing, and neurologically-driven dating rituals. Jonas, who has a Ph.D. in social psychology, is our favorite kind of troublemaker: opinionated, passionate, personal. Make an appointment with the doctor today (he does house calls, I bet).
Tom Foremski: it is always good talking with Tom, the biggest troublemaker of them all. Tom thinks everything -- marketing, journalism, and PR -- is going to "hell in a handbasket." Cheerful guy. We chatted in the parking lot about the new world we're living in, a great bargain called Yahoo! Music, and my three-year old son's fixation on The White Stripes (supported in part by Yahoo! Music).
PR Peers: I got to speak with Phil Gomes (Edelman) and connected briefly with Jeremy Pepper (Weber Shandwick) and the Voce guys (Mike Manuel and Matthew Podboy). And it was nice to spend time with former Eastwick colleague Tony Obregon, who is now toiling at a small outfit called Cohn & Wolfe. Tony -- who on good days bears an uncanny resemblance to a Hollywood star -- has an excellent blog on research. I highly recommend it.
For a few weeks, our peers have been talking about starting a local meet-up for Bay Area PR people. At some point, all the great troublemakers will take part in this. You'll be hearing more soon.