Another Year, Another NIRI National Conference
Another year, another NIRI National Conference. I don't know about you but this year's annual conference left me feeling a little flat. For every positive there seemed to be a negative that - at the end of the day - kept this "vehicle" stuck in neutral (imho).
For example, it was great to see the sponsorship hall filled this year... but it was disappointing to see that few had anything interesting or different to show (and some looked as confused as to why they were there as I was to see them there). Don't get me wrong, it was nice to see everyone but I'd be lying to you if I said I had any "ah ha!" moments while navigating the showcase.
Likewise, it was great to see a broader array of topics covered in the breakout sessions this year... but it was disappointing to see that none of the panels I attended utlized panelists with opposing views on the subject. Viva debate and critical thinking! Down with the seemingly pervasive "chummy" factor that underpinned the sessions. Likewise, the panels I saw were surprisingly locked into "101-level" content.
For that matter, it was great to see attendance was up this year... but I found the crowd a bit more (read: a lot more) cliquish or preoccupied with their iPhone than in past years. (Nice meeting you too.)
See what I mean... one step forward, one step back... I had planned on handing out some ROBBIE awards but found myself bouncing back and forth between cheers like:
BEST NEW PANELIST: Keith Gottfried, who brought a real-time, no-nonsense perspective to the activist climate around us.
SHOULD HAVE BEEN A GIVEAWAY: zu's "What's Your Story" t-shirts were flat-out awesome... I cannot tell you how disappointed I was that they didn't have any to give away.
... to jeers like:
WORST PANELIST: Name Withheld... but he/she served as a panelist on more than one panel and used essentially the same presentation. Thanks for [not] going the extra mile, pal. Sure hope you didn't get two presenter gifts for that single presentation.
LONELIEST EXHIBITOR: Mandarin Oriental New York... be honest, did you ever see anyone at that booth? I'm not even sure that booth was even staffed.
... so... I just decided to bag the idea as I didn't want the awards to spiral into such snarky catagories as PANELIST WITH MOST OUT-OF-DATE PERSPECTIVE or MOST AGGRESSIVE VENDOR NOT CAGED IN A BOOTH.
Since I was raised to "be part of the solution, not part of the problem," here are two ideas I had on the plane ride home from FLA on how to increase the effectiveness of future NIRI Conferences:
- Make the conference an every other year event rather than annually - it would allow more time for panel development and panelist recruitment; would allow vendors more time to bring thoughtful solutions or concepts to the showcase floor, etc.
- Rotate the location between U.S. and non-U.S. locations - it would further encourage diversification of attendees, panelists, sponsors, etc., as well as would better reflect the global stock exchanges IR now serves. Shoot, all the really innovative IR "stuff" is coming from Canada anyways.
Maybe... just maybe... it's me. Wouldn't be the first time and, likely, won't be the last. Were you there? What did you think? If you weren't there, why didn't you go?
(NOTE: Let me make something perfectly clear: I've got nothing but love for NIRI. I am active on both a national and local level, and have been a vocal advocate/ambassador for the organization for more than 20 years so you can hold your "conspiracy theories" or any other "NIRI-hater" nonsense. Frankly, if I didn't care as much as I do, I wouldn't waste my time or yours with this post.)
Position:Senior Managing Director
Rob oversees Dix & Eaton’s investor relations practice and is a member of the firm’s Leadership Committee. Over his nearly 20-year career, he has developed and executed investor relations programs for companies in a wide range of industries and market cap sizes.
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