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Public Relations Bonanza

Jan 20, 2018 11:39am | 84 Comments

Speaking engagements deliver a great deal of bang for your marketing and PR buck.  One of the most effective tactics is to issue a press release with the news of your upcoming speaking engagement.  This is a quick and easy way to reinforce your brand and promote the accomplishments of your executive team and subject matter experts.  By including insight on the speech topic in your press release, you also advance your thought leadership agenda with key members of the press and analyst communities.

Prior to a speaking engagement, contact press and analysts who are planning to attend the conference.  In addition to inviting them to your speaking session, arrange one-on-one meetings with them at the conference.  These in-person meetings help establish and strengthen relationships with your most important press and analyst contacts.  They also help you generate media coverage – especially if you are using your speech to unveil a new concept, product/service offering, or client success story.  And conference meetings are much less expensive and time-consuming than press and analyst tours.  

One Speech = Unlimited Possibilities

Developing a compelling speech takes time and effort, but the opportunities to use the speech as a broad communications vehicle are bountiful.  There are many ways to repurpose the speech and messaging for a variety of internal and external audiences.  Consider the following:

  • Bolster your internal communications program by promoting the speech and its impact to employees via your intranet or employee portal. 
  • Capture the audio and/or video of the speech and post the most compelling clips on your company Web site. 
  • Use the abstract and speech content to pitch and develop a byline article for placement in one of your target business or trade publications. 
  • Leverage the speech content to develop a collateral or direct mail piece for clients, prospects, analysts – even board members and shareholders. 

All these efforts not only enhance the success of your internal and external communications programs, but also play a critical role in building and communicating uniform messaging to a varied audience.  

5 Resolutions for Speakers

Jan 9, 2018 7:24pm | 84 Comments

Every year I publish a list of New Year’s Resolutions for speakers in an effort to get us all thinking early about how we can improve our presentations in the coming months. This year I’m focusing on storytelling.

1. I resolve to find the story in the data. We’ve replaced the old problem of a generation ago – information scarcity – with a new one: information overload. That means the single most important gift an expert can offer an audience is to sift information and tell us what’s important. But it’s not enough to merely tell us facts, because information overload has become so severe for many of us that we can’t remember facts unless they’re contained within stories. It’s the package that makes the information memorable. So don’t give us any more data; give us stories.

2. I resolve to tell stories, not anecdotes. Most speakers think they’re telling stories when they’re only telling anecdotes: I met this customer who said bad things about our product….. Real stories have a hero, conflict, and a story arc – the hero faces a conflict, or an ordeal, or a test, and changes in some way as she meets the challenge.

3. I resolve to use more emotion in my stories. Because it’s emotions that people find memorable, a speech lacking them is inevitably forgettable. Or, as the rhyming mavens would say, “if you don’t care, don’t share.” If you don’t have strong emotions to go with your stories, they will only be marginally better than data.

4. I resolve to use video to tell my stories. While nothing will ever replace a human storyteller, video is the medium of the age, and you’re killing your audience by not using it and instead using slides. So put away the PowerPoint, the Keynote, and the Prezi presentations and get out the video. If a picture is worth the mythical 1,000 words, then a video is worth 10,000 pictures.

5. I resolve to tell stories that make the audience the hero, not me. Give a speech to change the world, nothing less. And that means showing the audience how it can change the world, not boasting about how you did once. So figure out how to tell your stories so that the audience can imagine itself as the hero, and get inspired to act accordingly.

The gift of attention is an increasingly precious gift. Let’s all resolve to treat the gift of an audience’s attention with the respect it deserves in 2013.

By Nick Morgan


Study: 44% of Communications Pros Have no Process for Placing Execs in Conferences

Dec 2, 2017 6:22pm | 4760 Comments

How do you go about making sure the executives you support are appearing in front of the most important audiences, and don’t waste their time speaking to audiences that don’t matter?

If you’re like most of your peers, its catch-as-catch can, and if you’re like many of them, you have no process at all.

These are the findings of a study released today by Vital Speeches of the Day and Weber Shandwick.

Titled “From Guessing to Planning: Placing C-Suite Executives in the Most Strategic Forums,” the study found that 44 percent of executive communicators surveyed have no process for identifying the best venues for the speakers they support.

Of the remaining 56%, only half of those executive communication professionals have a forum-identification process they’re confident in.

Executive communication pros rely on networking with peers, monitoring a plethora of event websites, conducting media searches, getting agency help and even cold-calling conference organizers to get their schedules.

“It’s needles in a haystack,” says David Murray, editor of Vital Speeches.

“As the economy slowly recovers and companies reposition themselves for growth, executives are increasingly looking to engage more publically with key constituencies and industry peers,” says Murray.

"Communications professionals who support C-suite executives are under a lot of pressure to identify the best forums and get their chiefs placed strategically and successfully.”

Building Your Corporate Speaking Program (Part 1)

Nov 17, 2017 6:16pm | 478 Comments

Ask any VP of corporate communications what she/he is doing to secure executive speaking opportunities, and the overwhelming response will be “not enough.” A savvy communications executive knows the benefits of a successful speakers program: brand development, executive visibility, product/service promotion, thought leadership and lead generation.

One speech can reach an enormous and valuable target audience of clients, prospects, employees, media, business partners and analysts. The audience has chosen to attend the conference and your presentation, so they are ready and willing to listen to your experts and your messages. The conference environment is conducive to networking and deal making. And you can’t beat the price. These coveted sales, marketing and PR benefits can be yours for the mere price of a plane ticket.  Yet many companies are frustrated with the process and the results of their existing speaking programs. Why? In our 3 decades creating and managing speakers bureau programs, we’ve found the root causes to be a lack of planning and a shortage of resources.

Typically, companies assign a junior-level PR or marketing person to establish and manage a speakers bureau program with no strategic plan and no executive support.  If this sounds familiar, know that there are a few simple things you can do to build your speakers bureau program into a highly visible and successful part of your marketing and communications strategy.

1. Create a game plan
Invest the time and effort to determine clear, attainable goals for your program. In addition to increasing brand awareness, you may want to promote a new leadership team or support the launch of a new product. Creating a program based on these goals will not only help you secure management buyin, it will enable you to plan, prioritize and execute more effectively. You also need to work closely with your management team and subject matter experts (SMEs) to determine the most charismatic, effective and willing speakers. Make sure this conversation also addresses their expectations for the program. You need to understand what they want from the program and be able to adjust those expectations accordingly.

2. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize
With an ever-growing list of business and industry conferences, it is critical to prioritize your efforts. Know your target audience and your business goals and be true to them both when researching conferences and pursuing speaking opportunities. Consider current and past speakers, location and venue, attendee profiles and other important criteria when building a focused target list.

3. Know the realities
Successful speaker placement is a difficult pursuit, so be ready for the challenges. Placement timelines are long (six-to-nine-month lead time), so start early and be willing to track an opportunity for months. Competition is stiff and sponsors get many of the top speaking slots (the unfortunat “pay to play” system). You can work around this system, but it takes perseverance and creativity. Select speakers and topics that are compelling and noncommercial, enlist clients for joint case-study presentations and spend time building relationships with conference organizers.

Speaking Trends

Nov 1, 2017 4:40pm | 553 Comments

S3 continually monitors the top conferences and leadership events to find out where the key players are speaking and what business topics they find most important to share with audiences.  This year, we kept a close eye on the most prolific executive speakers at the leading technology/media brands like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AOL, and many others.  Here are some of the trends we observed:

Q2 and Q4 Were Big

The second quarter of the year had the most speaker activity by the top 2 dozen executive speakers in the technology & media space, followed by Q4, Q3, and then Q1.  Historically, the May/June and September/October time periods have been the most active speaking "seasons". This trend has held true pretty consistently for over 15 years.  

A Trend Toward Home

Executives presented around the world this year, but definitely traveled overseas much more extensively in the first 3 quarters of the year than in Q4 where fewer than 20% of presentations were made outside the US.

Media & Technology Focus

As might be expected, the main emphasis by these companies was on Technology & Media conferences.  The next most popular conference types were Advertising & Marketing, Women in Leadership, General Leadership & Business, Entrepreneurship, and finally, Social Good & Philanthropy. 

The Most Prolific Speakers Were Often not the CEO…

The CEO was the most active speaker at less than one third of the companies we tracked.  Strong lieutenants, many with their own powerful name recognition, often took on the speaking responsibility as their company’s public face instead of the CEO.

…They Were Often Women

Of the executives we tracked, about 25% were women, a much higher representation than the number of women in senior executive positions at these companies.  In addition, these women presented a lot – they gave about 43% of all the talks from this group during the year.  In 2011 there was a sizable increase in demand for top female executives, and more conferences than ever have been created to reflect this strong audience interest.

We’ll continue to monitor the speaker circuits as we move into 2012.  Revisit this blog often to keep up with ongoing observations as they occur.

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