I’m not going to next week’s NAPF investment conference. However I hope to be almost as enthused by its debates as if I was. That’s because I’m opening up www.henrytapper.com and the Pension Play Pen to anyone who cares to share their views and experiences with the rest of us!
I applied for a press pass this year. I got turned down which was only to be expected. The NAPF are not the kind of organisation that decides to let unaccredited bloggers into their press room without a proper debate first.
So let ’s start that debate on this blog.
The status quo says that a bunch of journos make it up to the NAPF conference every year and churn out reports on the key sessions and the odd “off the wall” piece from someone they can collar on the way to and from their session.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hearing news from Pensions Week/Age/Insight , Professional Pensions or from the nationals. They are the pros and we rely on them to tease out fact from spin from the press releases that thud onto their desks every day.
But in a digital age where every Tom Dick or Henry can get on his or her laptop , the what , when and how we read stuff has changed. Guido Fawkes has more readers than the Spectator and New Statesman put together. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pension Play Pen and henrytapper.com don’t occupy more professional pension time than most of the pension news papers.
Part of this is to do with advertising - you won’t see much on linked in groups or my blog, what you read is hopefully independent of any sponsor and you don’t have to wade through advertorial nonsense on here. Editorial independence assured!
Partly it’s to do with interactivity. Linkedin groups like the Play Pen seem to get contributions like no other forum. The recent thread on the Play Pen which ran to over 80 comments , centering on a poll over whether Stephen Hester should have given back his bonus, became one of the best discussions I have seen on executive remuneration anywhere. Mallowstreet refer to this as the wisdom of the crowd and Robert and Dawid are right. If you can get everyone joining in a debate you get a one plus one equalling three element to the debate. This isn’t mob rule, it’s constructive debate which takes matters forward.
Partly it’s because bloggers are (or should be) thought leaders. Sometimes , in our wacky way we find ourselves on our own and a fair few silly ideas have been raised and dropped on henrytapper.com but for the most part, bloggers go where others fear to tread and form the agenda that will be discussed not at this year;s conference but those of years to come.
Most of all, blogs are fun, irreverent and should speak the same language as their readers, in a world where any old idiot can write a blog, it’s the blogs that succeed over time that matter. You can only write without readers for so long.
4000 people a month chose to read pieces like this. I dare say that a fair proportion of those in the Investment Conference sessions will have read these very words by next week. If you are one of those who are reading this and going to the conference, I’d be personally grateful if you’d get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why not write your first blog? Just e-mail me what you have to say and I’ll post it for you how and where you want it posting. If you are in the Pension Play Pen, post your thoughts as a discussion of your own or as a comment on someone else’s thread.
The Conferences of the future will be as much about the comment and opinion they generate on the web as what happens in the hall. Without these great social gatherings there would of course be no focus for the debate but without the interaction of those outside the hall -conferences will only be half-there.