Power to the Podium
What startup or growing business has not obsessed over its lack of budget, and killer PR, all at the same time? In-house marketeers are often set the task of getting more ink, raising brand awareness and lead generation for their organisation. Fair enough, that’s their job after all. But as discussed in previous SOSv blogs, without a new product, an earnings announcement, a key executive hire, a strategic partnership or a newsworthy event, it can be an extremely challenging task.
So how do you generate positive publicity when you have nothing newsworthy to promote? Are there other PR tactics and strategies that can be utilised? Absolutely!
Have you ever considered speaking opportunities?
They offer a startup or company a unique chance to reach a captive audience, one that is hungry to learn and listen to what you, the expert and subject authority, has to say. At significant industry events (for your business), the audience will most likely be populated by your customers, prospects, potential recruits, business partners and key representatives from the media. What better way is there to promote thought leadership, market your business and drive demand for your product and services not to mention the possibility of attracting investors and your next round of funding!
Not too shabby.
Who Should Speak?
Look around your organisation today and identify who those likely “speaker” candidates would be? Selection criteria may include: a person who is passionate, well-spoken, knowledgeable about your company’s products/key message and most importantly, engaging. Once you have a list of potential speakers, an in-house coordinator (aka someone in the office who has a little extra bandwidth!) can let the public know that these speakers are available to talk to different groups, and speaking engagements can be scheduled by contacting the sponsoring organisation.
The good news is that running a speaking program is inexpensive and can be easily managed. It does, however, require planning as most speaking opportunities are finalised well in advance of the event (usually 6–12 months before). So I would definitely recommend appointing a “coordinator” . Some one who can effectively manage all the necessary details of the program i.e researching opportunities, developing abstracts, obtaining keynote/panelist slots at targeted events and confirming logistics. Remember, get bang for your buck. A company can put forward a single speaker or an entire panel, depending on the focus and purpose of the organisation and the occasion of the speaking engagement. So leverage every show and try and get as many slots as you can.
You should note, just like dealing with media, it’s all about relationships. Show organisers like to deal with people they know and trust. So the more visible and communicative you are the better your chances of securing those highly sought after keynotes and panel positions.
Seek Out and Speak Out
A simple Google search will return plenty of sites that list conferences for all industries. Check online conference directories such as Lanyrd, Plancast, Conferensum, AllConferences.com, ConferenceAlerts.com. You could also go the speaker directories route but these are services that list speakers for a fee. The most prominent are speakerservices.com and speakerzone.com.
Bottom line, “seek out and speak out” at local, national and international conferences and events where new business prospects may attend. Don’t be afraid to cut your teeth on smaller events. They will help you prepare for the bigger gigs. 🙂
Leverage Leverage Leverage
To make your efforts go even further use the same content with theses additional PR tactics:
Your Speech/Presentation: Get a few extra miles out of it. Upload your presentation on Slideshare, and share it on Facebook and Twitter.
Profile CEO/Executive in a Key Trade Publication/Newspaper: Make it known to journalists and analysts that the speaker is available to comment on industry happenings. Pitch them as a resource/thought leader.
Note: The “speaker” should be uptodate and available to comment on what is going on in your space, at any time.
Press Release on Keynote: If you have managed to bag a keynote for your CEO or executive — promote it. Give details of the subject/content. This is a way to drive attendance to the presentation, as well as to market your executive’s expertise.
All in all, speaking opportunities remain one of the cornerstones of a solid PR program for any company.
It’s an indispensable activity that can put your company on the map and drive demand for its product and services.
So embrace it.
Speak now or forever hold your ….opportunity to grow your business. 🙂
Written by Jane Mazur
Originally published at sosv.com on September 26, 2014.