Over the past few years, the event sector has been transforming. Then, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new set of challenges and adaptability has been brought upon the industry. 2020 saw a 290% spike in hosting virtual events as compared to 2019, and between the changes to virtual and hybrid, to events being canceled altogether, it can be challenging to keep up with the trends.
As vaccinations rise around the world, we are likely to see more hybrid and in-person events that allow attendees to participate at their own comfort level. Many events such as CES 2022 and Collision 2022 have already announced hybrid options, while Web Summit is gearing up to host their first in-person-only event since the start of the pandemic, taking place in November.
With all of these changes happening, it’s natural to be asking “what now?” or “what’s best for me?” Here are a few tips on how to work with a PR partner to strategically select and stay up to speed on all things events.
When it comes to landing a speaking role, it’s in your best interest to begin the process months ahead. Speakers are often booked months in advance, as event organizers work quickly to fill their speaking spots and interested participants look to edge out their competition for these coveted roles.
Our Technology PR & communications client Siegel Family Endowment recently spoke at the ASU+GSV Summit. We connected with the organizers of this event in June and kept in touch every few weeks until the event happened in August. Another client, Sidewalk Labs, is participating in an event in January and we have been in contact with organizers since July.
This means that in general, it is best practice to start thinking about your overarching event strategy at least six months, if not a year, in advance. This stage of the event process allows you to identify your goals, curate a list of relevant events and ideal speaking opportunities, begin developing unique speaking submissions and ultimately, reach out to organizers.
As you think about your event presence for the year, some goals to consider include:
What aspects of your organization are you looking to grow or amplify over the next year?
This will help you determine which events your organization’s presence is most relevant at. For example, if your organization is coming out with a new tech product, an event with an expo where you can showcase your product to hundreds or thousands of attendees may be best for you. However, if you have a whitepaper or research coming out, a conference that’s more academic in nature would be a better fit.
Where will you be most able to network with peers?
Events are unique in that they bring like-minded organizations and people under one roof (or, these days, Zoom) and provide an opportunity to build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. You could reach out to connections that you haven’t spoken with in a while to see if they have spokespeople attending any conferences that you could also attend and reconnect at, or you could look on social media to see what events other leaders in your industry are talking about attending.
Who are your event spokespeople and what are they experts in?
This allows you to both identify the events that are the best fit for your executive and the company, as well as craft strong submissions that give you a leg up from the competition. For example, if you want to elevate the Chief Technology Officer at your EV charging company, you may narrow your focus to transportation- and technology-related events and develop speaking proposals about emerging technology and products in the EV industry.
While these are a few of the first considerations to keep in mind when developing your event strategy, in a world changed from COVID-19, a new question emerges:
Is it actually worth traveling to an event in person?
Over the past 20 months, we’ve all gotten comfortable in our homes and performing routine business tasks virtually. As employers and employees alike consider what the future of work actually looks like and what environments best serve our goals– office requirements, hybrid or fully remote — the same goes for events.
For some, the time and financial commitment it takes to attend every industry event are no longer viable. Thinking about this as a part of your overall events strategy is important as you consider what events you can and want to participate in.
By following all of the post-invitation tips above, you should be ready to go! You should have contact information from your pre-session, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your event organizers or PR partners for help if you have any questions along the way.