1. Conferences Redefined

    Last week I was in Leeds for the Redefining Research conference, put on by Alison and Jen from FaceFacts Research. FaceFacts are a field agency, and if you think about it putting on a successful, affordable conference is a pretty good advert for your organisational capabilities and value for money.

    But was it successful? Emphatically yes! For less than £100 - if you went for the early bird ticket - you got a wide-ranging program, some really good speakers, enjoyable debates and content which would have been top quality at any of the big industry events (and as a speaker I got better and tougher questions than I can remember anywhere else, too!).

    At that price point it’s far more affordable than the big conferences for smaller agencies and younger researchers, and more justifiable for client-side researchers. These are exactly the kind of people we should be getting at research events if they’re to be useful and exciting. It’s in the spirit of Ray Poynter’s New MR virtual conferences but with plenty of face-to-face networking. I had to leave before the party, but sources tell me it was terrific.

    What corners were cut to get this? None that mattered, I think:

    - Being in Leeds is surely cheaper - and obviously it’s good to run events outside the M25.

    - No expensive keynotes from outside the industry. Now, I think getting interdisciplinary voices in is vital to the health of the biz, but in my experience only the MRS really does this well - at a lot of events the keynotes are puffy “motivational speaker” types. And there’s no reason a lively research conference shouldn’t also attract lively interdisciplinary bods, especially as…

    - … It treated speakers very well! This isn’t a cut corner, which makes it especially commendable. Accomodation, taxis to the venue, and actually far more important than this the FaceFacts team treated you as a grown-up who could be trusted to bring your presentation on the day. No month (or more!) deadlines here, which meant I could present some results we’d only just got in.

    - Decent “business lunch” type food rather than bespoke catering.

    - Erm… that’s it!

    So, to sum up: good work FaceFacts, and why can’t we as an industry have more events like this - affordable, appealing, informal and fun?