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Sustain Local 2016 Graphic Recordings “Better than Twitter”

Posted in: School of Communication and Media News

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Say you walked into a common meeting or conference and a man with a sheet of paper half the size of your car began to uncommonly draw a picture of your conversation, you would be witnessing graphic recording at work.

For the over 165 attendees of the Sustain Local 2016 event to discuss how local news and media outlets can reach sustainability in today’s ever-changing and competitive media industry, this experience was met with both engagement and intrigue as they snapped pictures for their Twitter feed.  One attendee, Mellissa Hall, proclaimed the effectiveness of the recordings in place of Twitter.

“At #SustainLocal conference, notes drawn live on huge sheets of butcher paper during opening keynote. Way better than live tweeting,” tweeted Hall.

On October 6 and 7, the third annual Sustain Local conference featured keynote speakers, panels, and workshops to illuminate potential business models, events, and other strategies that could lead to inventive sustainment approaches for local media beyond that of fluctuating advertising dollars.  Dr. Philip Bakelaar, adjunct faculty at Montclair State and board member of the International Forum of Visual Practitioners (the professional association for graphic recorders and graphic facilitators), was enlisted by the conference’s hosting organization, the Center for Cooperative Media of Montclair State University’s School of Communication and Media, to bring these pivotal conversations to life.  Center Director Stefanie Murray also observed the contrast between graphic recording and social media.

“Graphic recording works in much the same way that social media does, in how social channels provide a second-screen experience where attendees can watch what other attendees are saying about the program and possibly pick up on things they missed, or see things from different points of view,” pointed Murray.

Dr. Bakelaar is known for providing graphic services for strategic planning meetings in addition to conferences such as the recent Institute for Public Relations’ Measurement Summit in Durham, NH.  With this technique he utilizes visual means to highlight recurring themes, helping the process of information recall and summarization, and adding to the conversation as participants watch discourse become imagery, and the abstract turn concrete.  It is for this reason that Dr. Bakelaar has performed visual recording for multiple of the Center for Cooperative Media’s hosted events.  At Sustain Local, Dr. Bakelaar was met with consistent feedback confirming the usefulness of his work.

“People would come up after the presentation and take pictures of the visual, and then they would say how it helped them to remember the key points,” said Dr. Bakelaar.

In response to the success of the graphic recording at the event, Director Murray noted the theatric nature of the recordings.

“Graphic recording adds visual interest to an event; it’s just plain fun to watch Phil work,” said Murray. “In that way, it’s also entertainment.

Together, the informative and entertainment value graphic recording delivers seems to rival Twitter and typical social media during in-person happenings. It’s no wonder the School Communication and Media is offering students the opportunity to learn this desired skill from Dr. Bakelaar in an upcoming eight-week class during the summer 2017 term.  The class will truly be one to watch.