When Speakers & Marketers Don’t See Eye-to-Eye

As the editor of PR News, I am partially responsible for securing speakers and content for our various events (webinars, conferences, etc.). While the logistics themselves are usually painless, I have encountered a number of instances in which I realize (only after receiving the presentations the speakers plan to give) that the content only vaguely resembles what we agreed upon during planning calls.

I think what often happens is that marketing copy with the event’s “deliverables” is crafted up front, and then speakers are chosen accordingly. Usually, each person is asked to address certain areas of content to avoid any overlap or redundancies. And they do … for the most part.

Often, though, I find that speakers get an idea of what they want to cover in their heads and then run with it, crafting their presentations around this information and then peppering in points that address their “assignments.” Sometimes this works well; other times, it results in an event that isn’t completely aligned with what attendees were promised in marketing materials.

As a frequent conference attendee myself, I see this happening often, but I don’t know how best to address it. Being strict with speakers is an option, but there is no guarantee it will work (plus, there is a strong chance of souring the relationship). Another option is choosing speakers, identifying their discussion topics and then writing the marketing material with their input; of course, this flies in the face of the separation of church and state.

Ultimately, I don’t know what the solution is, or if one is necessarily needed. It’s just an observation, and I’d welcome any comments or insights …

By Courtney barnes

  • http://www.burrellesluce.com Gail Nelson

    Good post, Courtney! I don’t think you can guarantee a perfect experience every time, but I’ve always been impressed with the quality of PR News events.

    In any case, I’ve had responsibility for program development both as part of my job (I currently head marketing at BurrellesLuce) and as a volunteer program chair. When I am responsible for the outcome, here are two things I try to do:

    – Review panelists’ slides in advance, to make sure they’re deliver what’s promised. It takes some persistence to make sure you get the slides in enough time perform a meaningful review. If they don’t hit the mark, it’s time for a tactful conversation.

    – Go over key policies with panelists. For example, some panelists tend towards overt sales if left unchecked. Panelists need to understand it’s usually a bad idea to demo their products during a panel.

  • cbarnes

    Thanks for the comment, Gail! You’re right … It just takes due diligence on the part of the planner to make sure the content is spot-on. But it can definitely be challenging to balance the wishes of the speakers with those of the marketing teams!