Although mainstream business conferences have so far not been hugely disrupted by technology, they way they are being ‘covered’ is.

This year’s CIPD annual conference was a good example of how the coverage of a big conference and show is changing. Bloggers at events is nothing new but there are still plenty of event organisers that have not figured out how best to use bloggers to maximise content and engagement around that content as well as the event.

The CIPD invited some leading UK HR bloggers – plus a big name HR blogger from the US – to attend and blog about their conference, which was held in Manchester in November.

The result was an impressive range of posts, which you can see in this post by one of the bloggers Jon Ingham.

The bloggers were:

I asked the CIPD’s head of external affairs, Rob Blevin, why the institute had decided to invite bloggers to help cover November’s conference.

Why did you create a blog squad for this year’s CIPD annual conference?
We didn’t explicitly set out to create a “blog squad”.  Rather, we’ve always seen it as important to ensure the media are able to attend and write about the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition – for the profile of the event, and to draw attention to the latest thinking and practice in HR.

The rise and rise of social media means that the kind of “citizen journalism” of the blogger becomes an important part of achieving these objectives.  So this was a natural evolution rather than any kind of radical revolution.

It’s worth noting, also, that many of the “traditional” media we’ve always invited now rely almost exclusively on the online environment, and are in many ways closer to the blogosphere than they are to the traditions of the printed page!

What did you learn from working with bloggers at the event?
We were very happy with the way things worked out.  Across print and online media we felt there was a wide range of coverage that reflected the breadth and depth of the content at the conference, but also the “buzz” and atmosphere at the event.

Ultimately, we want the ideas and the content to get out, and to play our part in the wider community of HR practice that social media is doing so much to improve and facilitate.  So working actively to provide insights to those unable to attend is important in itself.

However, we do also want the readers to be drawn in, and to consider attending themselves or recommending others to attend in the future – social media has an important part to play in that.  To continue providing the kind of leading platform for the sharing of ideas and practice that our Annual Conference and Exhibition provides, we have to ensure the event delivers revenues as well rave online reviews!

You had Laurie Reutimann over from the US – why was that?
She has an extremely high profile, and we thought she’d be able to make good use of attending.  Her lively presence certainly added to the “buzz” – and a lot of the HR Twitterati and inhabitants of the HR blogosphere seemed pleased to welcome her to our shores.  But we were just as delighted to welcome the many UK bloggers who attended as we were to extend our hospitality to our US guest!

Will you be using blog squads for future events?
Looking to the future, I think this is a genie that ain’t going back in the bottle.  I’m sure we’ll continue inviting bloggers to attend in the future.  I think we’d like to look at ways of doing more to match bloggers to the content at the event, so that they get the best experience, and through that we get the best of their writing.  This will always be a symbiotic relationship.

We won’t always be able to invite every blogger to every event – so we need to work hard to make sure that we’re fair in providing the best writers access to the content that best suits their interests.  But also to be realistic in explaining that a blog won’t always buy a free ticket to our high quality events – that wouldn’t be fair on the rest of our paying guests, or, in the long-term, sustainable.