PR pros 'still learning' about conferences

Today’s PR professional lacks a basic understanding of how the conference industry operates - serving to annoy organisers and lose value for the PR professional’s client.

A recent analysis of leading producers of conferences found hapless PR people are causing their clients missed opportunities in terms of profiling, networking and intelligence gathering.

Brands2Life’s poll of 60 European conference organisers found not knowing how to pitch a speaking proposal, and ignorance of the conference circuit were PR people’s main failings.

Self-promoting companies using too much sales jargon was the most infuriating type of contact, with one third of producers confirming it as their ‘biggest pet hate.’

The next most common mistakes were arrogant approaches and using a ‘bait and switch’ approach of replacing senior speakers at the last minute.

When it came to securing these orators, getting feedback from their PR person before the deadline was a regular annoyance for one in three organisers.

Finding the right speaker for the event was notably less of a problem, but finding time in their diary was a complaint voiced by a significant number (32%).

As anticipated, most PR professionals will have a tough time securing their client as the headline speaker if they are not a senior executive, or representative of a big-name brand.

However the poll did reveal events organisers are willing to help out the so-called ‘underdog’ companies – if the right approach is used.

“Although 90% of the speakers at our events will be CEOs or Board level at well-known companies, I still look for the ‘diamond in the rough,’” said Shari Rosen, a director at Forbes Conferences.

“If I can be convinced that a speaker from a smaller, less well-known company is an expert in his or her field, is a passionate presenter and has a good story to tell, I'm prepared to take a chance and put them on the agenda."

The poll also revealed some encouragement for headline-hungry start-up companies.

"For our large annual events, we always like to choose a few newer, innovative companies that are making waves in the industry,” said Jayne Van Hoen of FT Conferences.

“It’s nice to hear a fresh perspective and mixes things up. Having the same speakers from the same industry heavyweights every year can get a bit stale.”

In a message to PR personnel, Brands2Life said it is crucial to exploit event opportunities and “make things happen in face-to-face situations”, not least because conferences will be at the core of communications strategy for the “foreseeable future.”



 

30th March 2007

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