October 6th, 2017
How many times have you been to a tech conference where the keynote speaker has been so good that they held the room spellbound for the entire length of their presentation? That what they had to say was so compelling 20 minutes simply flew by? I have – it was an inspiring experience that has stayed with me ever since.
What made this presentation so refreshingly different was how packed with story hooks it was. It had a compelling mix of up-to-the-minute data on industry trends plus real-world applications that were clearly solving problems for all kinds of businesses – all delivered by someone with a magnetic stage presence.
The speaker had flown in a few days earlier after my client had acquired the company he worked for. This was our first contact. I’d heard a lot about him and was looking forward to working with him and introducing him to the media.
I could tell immediately he was going to be a tremendous asset. He was by far and away the star turn in an otherwise low-key event.
Organized by a small industry trade body, the chosen venue was a nice enough five star hotel but sadly miles from anywhere. So much good material on stage yet there was not a single member of the media around to hear it. Under-pressure journalists simply will not spend a whole day travelling just for 30 minutes with a keynote speaker – no matter how dynamic they might be.
Tech event PR is all about understanding which media to target, where best to stage the event (to be close to as many desirable journalists as possible), and what type of news agenda will most appeal to them.
This appeal is about so much more than the credentials and personalities of the speakers. It’s also about ensuring the event is packed with an inspiring and varied news agenda, plenty of one-on-one interview and story exclusives for journalists, and full of visual highlights to keep social media platforms like Twitter busy.
In short, tech event PR is all about producing great content. The better the content, the more it will be written about and shared.
From a client perspective maximizing tech event PR opportunities requires meticulous preparation starting several months in advance. In my experience the top three ingredients for successful tech event PR are as follows:
If you are releasing a product, provide evidence of demand for it. Who is testing it? Can journalists talk to analysts/customers/channel partners about it? Perhaps a recent survey has revealed valuable new insights? Try to also provide supporting announcements such as how you plan to invest capital raised in recent funding rounds or the roll out of a new channel strategy to help maximize product sales.
It is important that spokespersons have a solid grasp of the company’s strategy in relation to the competition in addition to product specific knowledge. Expert sources are always in demand by the media and a good interview will often lead to further opportunities to comment in the future
A strong news hook that resonates well with reporters at tech events is the release of fresh independent research on a topical subject. New and independently verified data can be especially strong if it challenges popular perceptions. The reason why this kind of story works well at shows is it can be supported by a wealth on online content – everything from a dedicated micro site with the full report to blogs, infographics and e-Books – that can be shared widely across social media platforms.
I never did get the chance to work with my man. He failed to agree personal terms with my client. A week, later he was gone. All that was left was his presentation and a wealth of story hooks about how customers worldwide were using the technology to add value to their business. And with the technology acquired so recently, it turned out I was one of a handful of people involved with my client to fully appreciate the PR potential of what they had brought on board.
So I did what anyone in my position would do. I shamelessly appropriated all the news hooks and story ideas and passed them off as my own. The campaign that followed sliced, diced and recycled the information for innumerable executive briefings, blogs and by-line article placements. I also repurposed many of the case histories as anecdotes in keynote speeches given by client executives at later conferences.
In this way, despite the inauspicious start we were able to eventually mine this rich seam of material for everything that it was worth.
In summary, when it comes to supporting clients with PR at tech events in my experience there can be no substitute for meticulous preparation, strong story hooks and great content.