Speaking conferences bring benefits

The slowdown in the US economy has communications executives scrambling to stretch budgets without sacrificing results. In times like these, a speaker's bureau program might seem like a "nice-to-have" component of a communications plan. But a targeted speaking program can provide huge value to communications programs, without the high cost.

The slowdown in the US economy has communications executives scrambling to stretch budgets without sacrificing results. In times like these, a speaker's bureau program might seem like a “nice-to-have” component of a communications plan. But a targeted speaking program can provide huge value to communications programs, without the high cost.

Let's look at the benefits. One speech can reach a valuable audience of clients, employees, media, and shareholders. To this audience, your company is positioned as an industry visionary and your executive as a credible thought leader.

But the speech itself is only the beginning. By broadly publicizing engagements, repurposing speech content, and leveraging executive travel schedules, your company can expand the impact of each speaking engagement by multitudes.

•Get the basics right. Focus on identifying the right conferences and building relationships with the organizers. This will help you understand what they need and create a pipeline of future speaking opportunities.

Establishing strong relationships with executive speakers is also important. Make sure they are properly trained to deliver compelling, objective speeches that address key issues in your industry. You need speakers who will be thought leaders, not salesmen, at the podium.

•Maximum mileage, minimum coin. Speaking engagements can deliver a great deal of bang for your buck. Issuing a press release about your upcoming speaking engagement is an easy way to build brand awareness and boost visibility.

Speaking engagements can also help you strengthen relationships with the media. Invite them to attend your speaking session and arrange one-on-one meetings. These activities help generate press coverage – and are less expensive than press tours.

Repurposing speech content can enhance your communications programs and enable you to deliver uniform messaging to internal and external audiences. Consider promoting the speech to employees via your intranet, capturing audio or video of the speech and posting clips on your Web site, developing a byline article for placement in a publication, or leveraging speech content to develop collateral.

•Prime location. Leveraging the conference location is another way to get additional mileage from your speaking engagements. Use the conference environment to your advantage by attending networking events, inviting locally based clients to attend your speech, and leveraging executive travel schedules to conduct client meetings and employee recruiting activities in the area.

With PR budgets under pressure, a resourceful speaking program can help you do more with less. If you take full advantage of the complementary communications and relationship-building opportunities, you'll reach the right audiences with the right messages – for less time, money, and effort.

Lori Zetlin and Jeanne Tee are managing partners of S3 – Strategic Speaker Services.

 

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