Nielsen BuzzMetrics hosted a Consumer Generated Media conference where, as this attendee puts it, they didn't let their consumers generate any media:
Today, I am off to Nielsen BuzzMetrics' clients-only CGM Summit 2006. The agenda is cram packed with sessions covering all aspects of Consumer Generated Media (CGM) including an overview of where we are today, why people do this stuff, where CGM is going in the future, and how exactly marketers can leverage and measure this powerful channel. Ironically, the confirmation email I received for the event includes this warning:
"Off The Record: the CGM Summit is off the record, so please no blogging, reporting, recording or broadcasting."
This made Nielsen look a little clueless (as does using the term "consumer," an inapporpriately passive noun when talking about the emerging world of user- or individually-generated content).
Their CEO responded (admiraby enough, in his blog)
It was a closed, invite-only event and we specifically brought it to our clients as an "off the record" forum at which they could share highly confidential experiences with some level of comfort that those case studies would not be discussed outside of that room. Those who have had to go to their corporate communications department to get clearance to share a case study knows that this type of "off the record" environment is sometimes essential to getting permission to present or discuss this type of material.
I can sympathize: this isn't a conference open to the public, it's a meeting for Nielsen clients. At any rate, despite the warning, the client's in the driver's seat here. If one of them felt like blogging what they had heard their peers say, nothing (binding) is stopping them unless they signed an NDA.
I don't think what Nielsen did was wrong, but it sounded a bit off. Actually, if anything, I think their worst mistake was putting something like this in writing. It would have been far better to appeal to the attendee's individual sense of discretion with a polite request to refrain from disclosing obviously sensitive information in public. A blanket injunction against even self-censored blogging means that Nielsen's clients are being deprived of potentially interesting observations from around the blogosphere, and that, ultimately, should have been an obvious downside to organizers of a "Consumer Generated Media Summit."