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December 5, 2008

Backstage at Nokia World 2008 – a Nokia Conversations summary

ESPOO, Finland – James and I are back from Nokia World, where we hustled our butts off to get some choice stories and sound-bites. There were a lot of things that were going on and channels we used to keep you all informed and also for us to watch how things were going on.

While not necessarily part of the usual topics we cover, I thought it would be interesting for you to get a peek ‘backstage’, so to speak, to all the stuff that we did. This, of course, would not be a comprehensive view of all the stuff that happened at Nokia World 2008, but might give you an idea of how crazy and amazing the machinery works here at Nokia to put on a show like this.

More details after the jump.

The planning for Nokia World 2009 has already started. Yes, it takes over a year to plan for an event this size – project team, venue selection, budgets – all the most influential decision need to made early. There is a core of people who are the main drivers for these events (mind you, they also plan our Mobile World Congress presence at the same time). They are amazing project leaders and never miss a detail.

These event gods and goddesses orchestrate the device and service teams (as in, what will launch), the marketing and communications teams (for messaging, media, and press coverage), and all the support folks (for demos, travel, event registration and operations, and logistics).

The four of us here at Nokia Conversations were part of the communications team, the team that gets the word out at launch. We worked with the guys running the site, together making sure info, videos, photos, and all are available through online channels and in format that folks can link, embed, comment, and enjoy.

As you know, we used a ton of channels. And, as expected, not everything went off smoothly. Nonetheless, we did our best effort to fix things to ensure an uninterrupted stream of info.

For example, as starters, we were not using Ovi or Flickr to share photos or videos. Ovi, due to some internal issues. And Flickr, because they booted us off months ago. I really don’t want to talk about either case.

Last minute, we set up a Kyte channel to stream live. Alas, the Wi-Fi in the auditorium was lame and we couldn’t get connected until too late. Also, on the show floor, the live Kyte video wasn’t good enough, so we started recording and uploading individual files. Really, Kyte made it so easy, that it was great for a quick ‘hello’ at the demo booths.

One of our biggest let-downs was Feedburner. We use it to manage our feeds, especially to the site. Alas, it borked a few hours after the announcement and we lost a huge amount of traffic. We were not the only ones suffering the effect of high traffic (lots of stories from fellow bloggers). But, for a Google company, I’d expect better service (you get what you pay for, I guess). Oh, well, we’re likely going to get off of Feedburner in the future to have more control over such an important channel.

The communications folks were managing hundreds of journalists from a ton of countries, shuttling them around, getting them materials (I pitched in with the loading of files on the press USB sticks), running an amazing Q&A with Anssi and OPK, and scheduling hundreds of interviews with our spokespeople. And they make it seem so easy.

As James and I are essentially reporters, we spent most of the first day interviewing folks. I was his video man and was frantically editing videos from Mon to Wed. Crazy. But one of our videos has a boat-load of views. And the other videos did well, as did the articles James and Mike (who was back at the ranch) wrote. Carita kept an eye on the operations, uploading the marketing videos and keeping us up-to-date on problems and the amazing traffic we were experiencing.

Carita and Mike basically wrote up our game plan and made sure we delivered. I am really proud of our team and really happy to be part of the whole PR effort.

One guy I work with, Ray Haddow, who, with boundless energy and dynamism, hosted a ton of great indie-journalists. He let James and I tag along. He had a room for all of us, brought in execs for a private Q&A, secured videos and images for us to use, and basically helped us get the most out of the event. We had a large screen streaming the talks and another screen with our Netvibes page.

He’d been planning it for a long time and pulled it off without a hitch.* I know that today he’s sleeping it off with a well-deserved break (and then we’re off to Paris next week).

Wow. Our main post got so many comments that I had to fix the site template to accommodate them all. One thing that will be hard is to go through all the comments in all our channels and respond to them. I hope that most can be responded to through other folks’ comments. But, it makes me sad that for a brief moment the chatter overwhelmed us and it became less of a conversation with us. Hopefully it still remained a conversation amongst yourselves.

Keeping up with the lovely chatter is important to me and it’s a pet peeve of mine when the volume of chatter increases such that it diminishes my participation with all of you.

Forgive me?

We do this all for you. And from what I have seen across the social web, you guys had a blast. Thank you. I’m here to please, and your presence here is pleasing, too.

Now back to work. All of you.

*Heh. The room Ray was given was next to the bathrooms. Just outside our door it stunk to high-heaven. In the end, I it made me ill and I had to work elsewhere.

Image from my flight back to Helsinki.