What to Value

Howard Buckley blogs about how the AMA conference has taught him what to value...

How do we decide what is of value – that is the question we’re posed at the start of this year’s AMA Conference. Thinking about highlights at this year's conference, it’s not easy to find the nuggets of gold when every day it can feel as though we are panning in a river of information so deep it’d take the Hoover dam to retain everything of value. However, if you are in Belfast, you’ve made the right first steps in being ahead in the gold rush.

The AMA does an amazing job at curating the knowledge in the sector and serving it up in ways which are accessible, and more importantly, useful. All that glistens isn’t gold, so it’s helpful that the conference is not an exercise in naval gazing. Every one of us, at whatever stage in our careers, will take something back to implement, benefiting our organisations.

There is a lot which has got me excited for this conference, not least because I get to be a trainee Barista for three days. I’m lucky enough to have done many jobs at the AMA conference; speaker, session chair, staff member, drinks host…. but none will give me more pleasure than making sure that you are all filled with hot beverages. I’ve been practicing in the office where my efforts have ranged from poor to middling. So, it’s a good job I’m surrounded by a team not only skilled in the art of a brew but in audience development, segmentation, data analysis, data sharing and digital expertise. We’ll be on floor one, stand four all conference. We can’t promise to spell your name right on your cup, but we can promise you’ll get more audience insight than in your average coffee shop.

Aside from flat whites what else really stands out this year for me? As a big fan of open source and P2P, I’m looking forward to Benita Matofka (Keynote, Wednesday 4pm) on how the cultural sector can start to utilise the sharing economy to greater effect. On Thursday I’m going to be front and centre to hear Jo Gordon and Jim Beirne talk about changing business models and organisational structure and the shifting role of marketing within this. Finally Timothy Armoo’s keynote on user generated content is one I’m awaiting with interest.

There is much more though, from Laraine Penson’s sure to be useful session on championing the audience, to Callum McGeoch from Livity’s breakout that all go into making the AMA conference the place where I really learn what is of value.

We at The Audience Agency are run off our feet busy this year, not only with our stand, but also we have a few speaking engagements dotted around. Everyone’s favourite data specialist Leo Sharrock will be taking you through what you need to know to be compliant with the new GDPR legalisation and our CEO Anne Torreggiani will be presenting alongside Nikki Locke of Durham Creative People and Places about how segmentation has helped their project. I’m sure you will find both sessions enlightening and useful.


Finally, I wanted to sign off by saying a massive good luck to the AMA team – putting this conference on for us all is a huge effort; and a special good luck to the AMA’s new CEO Cath Hume. Having had the pleasure of working with Cath, I know she is going to do an amazing job as she follows in the footsteps of Julie’s fantastic work. So, thank you team AMA.

Value them, value this conference, value your colleagues, value the sector and most importantly, value the public.