Reboot: The Return of Peer-to-Peer Sessions

It’s been a long time since we last held a peer-to-peer group session for NJ news entrepreneurs. We used to hold monthly meetings at Montclair State and via Zoom Conference where we’d bring together independent publishers and news entrepreneurs to discuss the challenges they faced. The goal was to get people in the same room to exchange best practices and hopefully find solutions that just don’t show up in a Google search.

At first, the P2P sessions were a hit. People came from all over New Jersey to meet other indie publishers, hear from special guest speakers, and sometimes just to vent their frustrations to a room of sympathetic ears. After a while, however, attendance started to drop. People slowly stopped coming to the sessions in person until the sessions were eventually held almost entirely via Zoom. In the final months, we were lucky if we managed to get even two or three people to join the video conference.

We tried sending out forms and surveys to help us figure out what was missing and what we could do to improve the experience, but the few responses we received were mixed. Some people couldn’t find time to spend an our on a conference line in the middle of the work week. Other people said they weren’t getting enough value out of the sessions. Eventually, we decided it would be best to suspend further iterations of the program.

It’s been several months since we closed up shop. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to breathe new life into the program, and I believe it’s time to give it another shot. This time, however, I want to do it right.

Instead of looking at it from a top-down approach, I’ve decided to put the ball in your court. The basic idea will remain the same – a recurring meeting of the minds where publishers and journos can talk shop with each other in a worry-free, off-the-record environment – but I’m leaving the structure and content of those meetings up to you.

I want to schedule a session in April, but I need to get some feedback on a couple of issues before I move forward:

  • What should the structure of P2P look like? Should we do an open forum where anyone can talk about anything? Should I seek out an expert or two on a specific topic of the month and have them present and take questions from the group?
  • How should we decide what the topic will be, if there is one? What’s been on your mind lately?
  • Where do we want to have these sessions? Does it make sense to hold them at Montclair State, where we can set up a simulcast so people can join virtually? Would it be better to have them at a local bar or restaurant every once in a while? North Jersey or South Jersey? Both?
  • Should they be monthly sessions? Every other month? Twice a year?
  • What day of the week works best for you? What time of day?

This is supposed to be for your benefit, so it doesn’t make sense to go through all the trouble of setting this up without asking you what you want out of it. I know everyone hates doing surveys, so I’m asking you to answer the questions about in the comments section below instead. Or you can always email me at jamditis@gmail.com or call me at (551) 265-1429.

I’m all ears.

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2 responses to “Reboot: The Return of Peer-to-Peer Sessions”

  1. I think that there should be a structured agenda for a portion of the P2P and then a free format portion scheduled that way people know when they can dip in and out depending on their time constraints and needs. I have trouble budgeting the time to come in person so virtual really works best. It would also be nice to have the opportunity to view a recording of the P2P if one has to miss it. Experts on specific topics sounds amazing. It might also be interesting to pair up hyper-locals…. maybe like a monthly speed dating kind of thing where each participant agrees to chat via phone, video or in person 6x/year with one of the other people picked randomly (or selected for a reason) to compare notes, progress, organization, pitfalls, and successes.

  2. My thoughts, for a first meeting, would be a guided open forum. See where everyone’s concerns, and interests, lie. Moving forward, guest speakers are always interesting and, again, guided discussion to stay on track. As for time frame, my personal suggestion would be once a quarter. Topics, I am open to just about anything, knowledge is power, and I have much to learn. 
    James Johan. Northern New Jersey All Incidents

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