Like all of you I’m sure, I receive an almost constant stream of invitations to academic events and conferences by email.

I rely on mailing lists to keep me informed about what is happening, but lately I have started to get irritated about how difficult event organisers make it for me to share information. I have even  started replying with ideas for how they might improve their communications strategy.

These replies were, of course, politely worded suggestions. This is the sarcastic letter I wrote in my head.

Sunny Locale: wish you were here

Dear conference organiser,

Thanks so much for sending me the notification of your upcoming event “Exploring the multi-dimensional dimensionality of performance based social network theory” organised by the Society for Serious Thinkers – it sounds fascinating.

I particularly like the fact that you have chosen to hold the conference in Sunny Locale
this year. That’s nice for our northern hemisphere colleagues, who will be suffering through winter.

I’m not sure I can afford the outrageous $2500 registration fee, especially since I will have to prepare a paper if I have a hope of getting my university to pay for it. Nevertheless I do hope I will see you there because I so enjoy the conference dinner. What can be finer than discovering the joys of line dancing after a few too many red wines?

I’m not sure how long it is since you have looked at the profile of the people on your mailing lists. You might not have noticed that quite a few of us academics have blogs and many more are active on social media. I have upwards of 4000 followers on Twitter now myself and I would love to spread your message to my network. I’m sure some of them will be interested in a conference in Sunny Locale on the multi-dimensional dimensionality of performance based social network theory.

You know, those people who follow my work on social media are connected to many others – have you read that interesting book “Connection: the surprising power of social networks and how they shape our lives?”. You might want to pick up a copy. According to these authors, we can ‘catch’ all sorts of things, like being fat, smoking or alcoholoism – even happiness – through our social networks. I’m sure you want to leverage the power of those networks to promote your conference.

Unfortunately, you are not making it easy for me to share the news of your event.

Let’s start with email – I get a lot of it. Luckily I didn’t set up an auto re-direct on your mail. I never open some of those folders. I read your email on the train on my new iPhone and it did that neat thing of making an ical event straight from the date you put in the text. Wonderful. But what about all those other people I talk to on social media? How am I going to tell them?

What a pity you didn’t include a ‘tweetable” form of the text in the email with a hashtag for the event. A hashtag is the difference between a Thick and a Thin Tweet and the key to making an information rich ‘tweet package’. A hashtag helps me talk to the other people who areinterested in your conference and even do some ‘pre-networking’. A hashtag is a boon for all those PhD students of mine who are interested, but will not be able to afford to fly to Sunny Locale.

I could, perhaps compose a tweet myself. I prefer to use Twitter to talk to my network – I have Buffer app which will send the tweet straight to Linkedin and Facebook for me, which saves me time in maintaining an active presence everywhere (that’s exhausting!). Thanks for providing that 1500 word description of the conference theme and the 20 or so sub streams (surely my work will fit into one of them), however I only have 140 characters to play with on Twitter. It’s going to take me 20 minutes or so to understand the theme enough to condense it. You are lucky I really want other people to come so I will spend the time, here’s what I came up with:

@thesiswhisperer: Hey! Check out this: “”Exploring the multi-dimensional dimensionality of performance based network theory” sounds great! Who’s coming with?

Oops – that’s 139 characters already. Pity your conference title is so long! I haven’t even told my followers that it’s put on by the Society of Serious Thinkers yet. Let’s try that again:

@thesiswhisperer: call for papers on social performance theory for conference in sunny locale from the Society of Serious Thinkers: ….

Oh. Wait.

You didn’t provide me with the link to a landing page on the web. I can’t possibly give my followers all the details in tweets.


Just a minute? What have you attached to this email? A PDF? Brilliant. Goodness look at the lovely picture that you have put on there (did you take that yourself? Aren’t those smart phones great). Look at all the work you have put into centring that text over the image and the 5 different fonts you have used. I’m not sure that ‘comic sans’ really says “Society of Serious Thinkers”, but I’m sure you had heaps of fun doing it. Still no hashtag, but at least I have a webpage now.

Unfortunately you didn’t make that text on the PDF available for me to copy, you must have missed that setting when you were making it from your word file. Not to worry. I’m sure I can copy that link and get all those curly thingies – tildas aren’t they? – in the right spots. Probably.

People can always Google search you right?

Good luck with the conference! See you in Sunny Locale in November.



Related posts

5 ways to Poster = #fail

5 classic research presentation mistakes

%d bloggers like this: