Many technology companies have speaking programs as part of their PR strategies, and let me tell you this: there are conferences aplenty. As my grandmother used to say, “There are more than you can shake a stick at!” For startups or emerging companies, one of the first things they want to do is raise awareness for their company, brand and executives. But where do you even start? A strong speaking program can increase brand awareness, but it must be carefully planned and well thought out.
Select speaking opportunities that matter to your strategic business goals.
Raising company and brand awareness is what every company wants to do, and for so many different reasons: attracting the attention of venture capitalists, growing partner networks, bringing on new and successful talent, filling the customer pipeline and more. Choosing events that attract the right audience is key, and those audiences can even serve as focus groups. What exactly is your company’s message? Does it resonate? If you are not 100 percent sure, speaking at events can help test your theories about your messaging. Doing a little experimentation can be helpful. Connect with members of the audience after your talk and see what they say.
Additionally, do extensive research on the conferences you think may be of interest. Maybe even attend one or two before deciding to apply to speak. Who is your target audience? Are they going to be there? Many conferences provide an audience breakdown or analysis from past events in their sponsorship packages, so that’s a good start. Event organizers are usually happy to offer information. Talk to people who have been to the events, and if you don’t know someone who has, check out the press. Who was writing about the event? What did they say? Did executives from competitive companies speak at the conference? It may be time consuming, but in the end, the research will pay off. You don’t want to waste money and time on something that is not beneficial to your company.
Get noticed in your speaker application and on stage.
Similar to an award application, speaking applications must stand out. Organizers get a lot of submissions, so you want to make sure yours shows differentiation, right? Right. Obviously, follow any rules and guidelines laid out by the organizers, but don’t be afraid to get a little creative where you can. Maybe begin with an anecdote that inspired your vision for your company or product. An interesting customer story can also serve as a great place to start. Whether you’re discussing your company or offering leadership advice, a brief narrative to give the audience a little more familiarity with you, the speaker, can help grab and keep attention.
So, you got chosen. Don’t be nervous. Be yourself. Get to the point. You’re excited about your topic, right? If you confidently convey that excitement to your audience, they will get excited and curious, too.
Speaking engagements are beneficial even after they’re over. Social media promotion during the event can raise awareness for your talk, as well as your company. Video yourself, watch the recording and critique what you see, so you can improve. Allow others to watch and offer constructive criticism. You can even use that video for promotion on your company’s website or social media platforms, or to help you get the next speaking opportunity. Enlist your team to tweet while you’re talking to extend the reach of your words. Finally, some of the best blogs and content are repackaged versions of event speeches. There are so many ways to take advantage of a speaking opportunity…it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
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