CEO speaking engagements increase by 96%

NEW YORK: CEO participation at top events has increased by 96% since 2007, according to an analysis by Weber Shandwick.

NEW YORK: CEO participation at top events has increased by 96% since 2007, according to an analysis by Weber Shandwick. Auditing the agendas of 25 forums in 2009, WS found a sharp increase in speeches given by some of the world's top CEOs.

The annual “Five-Star Conference” study focused on heads of 50 companies deemed by the agency to be the world's “most admired.” The list was compiled from Fortune's yearly survey of senior global business people.

“From a PR standpoint, this shows that the area of speaking engagements is alive and well,” said Jennifer Risi, EVP of the agency's Global Strategic Media Group (GSMG). Risi is also creator of WS' speaking opportunity platform, Voiceboxx.

“A lot of people thought we would see a scaling back of speakers at these events, but instead folks are showing that they realize global forums are a good place to market their business.”

In 2007, Voiceboxx research showed 27% of the top CEOs spoke at a list of events chosen by GSMG, based on client feedback and event media coverage. That figure increased to 53% in 2009.

Meanwhile, speaking engagements by the rest of the C-suite, such as CMOs, rose by 40%. Risi said the economy could be one reason for the contrast in participation increases between CEOs and their supporting teams.

“The trend used to be you had all classes of executives speaking at these events,” she said. “With the way the economy has been, companies are focusing more on putting the face of their brand out there, which would be the CEO.”

The analysis judged the Clinton Global Initiative, the Chief Executives' Club of Boston, the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, and the World Economic Forum as the top four events.

Risi said many of the events included in the survey centered on a similar theme of reinvention.

“We noticed an interest in how companies could reinvent themselves,” Risi said. “A high number of the speeches given at these events focused on the reinvention economy, and how companies can work together to collaborate and solve problems.”

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