Skip to content

Blogging PubCon Competitive Tips

In reviewing my notes from an old PubCon, I found the few notes I did make were spot on good ones. Every person in the audience holds a different belief system, and it is our belief systems which enable us to “hear”. Mine is skewed towards competitive angles and skepticism, based on quite a bit of “been there, done that” experience. So when I listen to someone speak, I have to skip much of the filler that is important to others, and I may latch on to those small things which stand out — against my own listening backdrop — as “curious”. Often it’s “I wonder, why did he say it that way” more than what he might have said. Let’s face it: no human can stand in front of an audience and not reveal, via verbal and non-verbal clues, intent or unstated acknowledgements of the existence of additional concerns or constraints.

Which is wy I like PubCon. It is also why I dislike PubCon.

PubCon publishes an “agenda” and puts it out front for all to see. The problem is, in my view that agenda reads like the cover of a popular magazine. There’s not much depth, and an effort to present “something for everyone”. if you were to collect 6 past issues of Cosmopolitan and place them cover up, side by side, you would get the impression that every month Cosmopolitan covers the exact same topics. In reality, that is done in order to sell single copies off the news stand. If the cover appeals to more people, you can sell more single copies at full retail price. Covers don’t sell subscriptions…covers sell single copies.

And the PubCon agenda sells registrations.

But now that I am registered, what about content? Let’s look at the Local Search session as an example. Here’s the description from the session grid:

If you have any interest at all in local search (and you should), then this is a session you cannot miss. Our expert panelists in this session will look at current issues surrounding local search engines, including yellow pages and other local search opportunities. Note, panelists are from local search engines and are invited to freely talk about what features and options set them apart from other engines.

Well, that basically says “if you are in local, this is your session” but the problem is, it’s a concurrent session. Concurrent with “Contextual Advertising Optimization” and also “What every webmaster should know”. That makes it tough to pick one, doesn’t it? I am very much into local search, so while that may – to the newbie – suggest I can’t miss the Local Search session, it actually means that I can afford to miss the local search session unless it has some of that curious stuff I mentioned earlier. If it’s a broad-swipe at local to appease the common web master, I can indeed and should miss it. What to do?

My notes suggest that Justin Sanger is a worthy of an audience when it comes to Local Search. BUT, those are old notes, and Justin was making a name for himself back then. Recently he sold his Local Launch business to BigMedia. What now? Hard to guess…I sure wish there was more detail in the PubCon Agenda.

So I have decided I will try and post notes of the Pubcon sessions I attend to this blog, sticking with my style of notes; the ones that flow from a competitive perspective. They won’t replace your own experience for sure, and they won’t “cover” the session for those missing out on attending. In fact, I suspect they will do little for anyone except someone just like me: someone bringing a varied background and expertise to PubCon where most sessions are more elementary than informative, yet at which there are people who know far more than they are revealing. People with more experience than their presentation may suggest, and who, as humans, are likely to stumble, hesitate, and defer their best judgements according to the level of the general audience than the experts or critics in the crowd.

Maybe you’d like to play along at home. If you attend a session and note a “glitch in the matrix“, drop a comment here. It might be fun.


  1. Kirby wrote:

    Great points John, but as noted, people hear what they want to hear and thus the learning experience is different for all. Many with your experience tend to downplay the sessions as to basic, while you noted that you try and learn from even the most “banal” of them. I look (or listen) for something new that is relevant to my current interests/goals/projects. With the exception of a few speakers whose presentations I could do verbatim, I expect new twists to be brought out. If that doesnt happen, then the session is a waste of everyone’s time.

    I like your blogging concept. It is one thing to read Barry’s roundup, and he does a great job of delivering the face value content, but frequently I notice how many subtelties are missed from his perspective. I think it would be fascinating to read posts covering the same sessions from many various perspectives, such as you, graywolf, Aaron, Ralph, et al. It would greatly increase the yield of ideas and applications.

    Sunday, November 12, 2006 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  2. IncrediBILL wrote:

    I’m concerned if John attends my session he’ll probably rip me a new orifice in this blog so I’m taking an inflatable “donut” cushion to sit on just in case he’s overly brutal.

    I’m also wondering what John will post about the final day of PubCon, when we do all the serious drinking.

    PubCon has multiple beers (sessions) posted on that final day but which one to drink?

    Unlike the other conference sessions, I drank from all the wells of knowledge on that final day, managed to get past airport security without incident and wobbled my way down the ramp to the plane and farted all the way home.

    God bless PubCon ;)

    Monday, November 13, 2006 at 12:49 am | Permalink
  3. John Andrews wrote:

    Wow Bill…. I’m more and more suspecting you to be the kind of friend one has over the Internet and never actually has to meet in “the flesh”. Not sure why that is… oh, yes I am.

    Monday, November 13, 2006 at 1:21 am | Permalink
  4. john andrews wrote:

    Kirby – thanks for the comment. Like the rest of this blog, it’s just how I see it and if that stands out in SEO blog world, well maybe there is a shortage of SEO people putting their opinions front and center. As for competitive stuff, I doubt this blog has enough reach for me to have any real concerns about revealing my own notes of the sessions. This time the benefits outweigh any risks.

    Monday, November 13, 2006 at 1:31 am | Permalink
  5. IncrediBILL wrote:

    LOL John. Some day you’ll figure out where the online persona BS ends the the real person begins.

    Monday, November 13, 2006 at 12:21 pm | Permalink