Back in July, I mentioned an event I was planning to organise to help bring big online communities together with government and the marketing agencies who work for it, to help stimulate creative thinking about new ways to work together.

Thanks to the great team at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, we now have a date and venue: Friday 1st October at DECC’s HQ just off Trafalgar Square.

Meet The Communities is a free, one-off networking and discovery event where we’ll hear from some of the big online communities about the partnerships they’ve developed with public sector organisations and commercial brands.

Now Government has less money to spend on traditional marketing, it’s a great time to explore how sustained, two-way partnerships with online communities can help government and citizens communicate better, more openly, and more cheaply.

But it can be hard for government clients and agencies to know how to work with online communities and what they can offer, beyond media space or one-off events like webchats. But the fact is, communities are a rich source of ideas and expertise, and the places where they come together online can be exciting space for discussion and problem-solving, as well as a source of peer support, market research feedback and mentoring.

So if you work in government communications, or in a marketing agency that handles public sector briefs, we’d love you to come along. And if you run a large online community (particularly non-geographic ones around an audience or issue – think students, motorists, firefighters, mums, consumer rights etc) then we’d love you to come and tell your story to an audience who would love to meet you. Bring lots of business cards!

You can book a ticket online, right now. Be quick, they’re already going fast! And spread the word – ideally using the tag #govmtc on Twitter to help us track it!

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Although pointedly at the corporate arena, Chris Messina’s comments in 2006 about neue sweatshop labor have some bearing.
If you are gathering information or knowledge from a community, you should consider yourself an instrument of the community, providing it with a service rather as them providing you with a service. The information gathered must remain theirs, not yours.

This comment was originally posted on DavePress