Speaking at events is an ideal way to convey your brand messages directly to an audience, rather than through a journalist.
We all know that industry events are a great way to build your brand. But there are so many ways you can incorporate events into your PR and marketing strategy. It’s time to be creative in the way you approach events. Don’t just attend conferences: look for relevant networking groups. You could be a seasoned veteran of attending events but have you thought about public speaking? You might even consider organising your own event.
Broadly speaking, there are two main types of events: small networking groups and large conferences. They can be used in different ways to build your brand. Small events are a great way to build a network of contacts and practise your networking skills, including your elevator pitch. Don’t be promotional – you’ll bore people. Instead, be authentic, listen to people and make interesting conversation. After the event, keep in contact with people you met and genuinely liked to build relationships.
Large events will improve your business knowledge from expert speakers, and you’ll also meet potential clients. After attending networking groups, you’ll have perfected your elevator pitch and be ready to meet other industry professionals and be the face of your brand. When choosing a conference to attend, think about your PR objectives. If your goal is to meet potential clients, think about where they will be.
Exhibitions (expos) also provide PR opportunities. They’re more hands-on than a conference. You can attend industry exhibitions either as an exhibitor or a guest. As an exhibitor you will showcase your brand to potential clients alongside your competitors, so you could really be missing out by not being present. As a guest, you can improve your business by learning about current practices and trends in the field, build contacts and establish your brand name alongside those of your competitors.
Think about the type of events your target market would like to attend, and what your business’ specialised knowledge area is. Then think outside the box: if there’s a niche that hasn’t been filled, why not organise your own event? It could be a small networking group with a specific focus or purpose, or a conference exploring issues that no one else is covering.
Planning is vital. If you want to start a networking group, it has to be a long-term commitment. Weigh up the costs and benefits, and don’t underestimate the time it will take to organise. Hosting an event has many benefits. You will build a network of contacts through the people who speak at or sponsor your event, and through the people who attend – all potential clients. Hosting an event is a lot of work, but it can really pay off in terms of establishing yourself as an industry expert.
Promoting the event
One of the main reasons for organising an event is to get your brand name out there, so don’t get so caught up in organising the event that you forget about the media! Write media releases and distribute them to relevant outlets like industry magazines, bloggers, newspapers and event listings.
After the event, continue to pitch – the event might be over, but you can still use it to build your brand. Great stories come out of events, which can generate media coverage. If you’ve decided to organise an event, make sure you put in the effort to promote it. Look for stories in the speakers, the attendees and the topics covered.
Speaking at events
Once you have attended many events, you might realise that you’d like to present your own expert knowledge to an audience. Speaking at events is an ideal way to convey your brand messages directly to an audience, rather than through a journalist.
Of course, you can’t deliver a promotional speech about your products or services. Think about what you know that others would be interested in learning and develop your area of expertise into an interesting public speaking topic. Always keep your target market in mind – you want to speak on something that they are interested in, so that they listen to your speech.
Public speaking is daunting for many, so start small and work towards larger events as you gain experience. Most often you won’t be paid for public speaking, but remember that the value is in the opportunity to position yourself as an expert, which builds your brand and attracts customers and media coverage.
Industry events are a way to reach industry professionals and potential clients directly and should be included in your PR strategy. You can spend as little or as much money as you like on events, and still reap great benefits.