By Conor Heslin, Account Manager at Eskenzi PR
A speaking submission is a notoriously tricky piece of writing to perfect for a public relations professional. In the security space, it can be tough to beat a really good speaking slot at a Tier 1 event such as Infosecurity Europe or RSA, especially in terms of brand awareness, thought leadership and general visibility amongst your target group. For this reason, the slots are coveted by every cybersecurity company, whether they are the greenest of green start-ups, challenger brands or established, NASDAQ-listed companies. Getting your client a speaking slot has become doubly difficult in 2020, as events are cancelled or moved online, and speaking slots are slashed.
If a speaking slot quota is part of your agency KPIs, these are all difficulties which 2020 has ushered in.
The chances of getting your clients a speaking slot live or die by the quality of the written submission. So below, we have put together a few tips that might help to clinch your client the opportunity to tread the boards of conference stages all over the world (or all over the Internet!)
Read the guidelines
There will be thousands of internal marketing departments, PR agencies and one-man bands filling out speaking submissions for a tier 1 show. For this reason, it is absolutely paramount that the guidelines are adhered to 100%. While it might be a tempting proposition to let your abstract stray over the word count by a couple of words, this is one way a tired judging team can exclude your application for a slot without even reading it.
If there are opportunities to submit supporting documentation or links, these are also opportunities not to be passed up. A serious contender for a speaking slot should have supporting materials readily available, and these materials don’t necessarily need to be records of past speaking slots; If you have a news story that features your prospective speaker, a previous interview or podcast, these will all be invaluable in showing that your prospective speaker has a pubic facing remit and can convincingly talk about the ideas he is submitted about, in a public forum.
Tie in some research
There are some technology companies – Apple, McAfee, Microsoft, Kaspersky – Who have the benefit of being household (or industry-household) names who walk into speaking slots due to the prestige of the company name and reputation: Events planners know these names will fill seats. If you are not fortunate to be writing or working for a company such as this, it is important to understand that some kind of news hook is going to make a speaking submission look infinitely more appealing. If you have a spokesperson who has produced successful, ground-breaking or even controversial research in the last few months, this is a much better way to bring attention to your organisation than simply putting together a speaking submission which looks for all intents and purposes like marketing material. Research helps to place the submission outside of the world of vendors simply talking about their products and provides an opportunity for corporate messaging to meet general interest.
Do your own research
Working in events means you are constantly on the lookout for the next big thing in order to keep your event on the cutting edge. This can play into the advantage of individuals or companies hoping to get their hands on a lucrative speaking spot. If there are specific themes that the organisers have identified as key for the year, you can play into these. You can also use the timing of the event to your advantage: Cross reference this with major news events – Sporting tournaments, elections or referendums – which may be able to give you a timely news hook by the time the event rolls around.
Use the submission as a chance to celebrate diversity
Whether it is Black Hat or Glastonbury, in 2020 the strength of an event is determined heavily by the diversity it can reflect in its line-up. This attempt to correct what has been a historically male arena is particularly pronounced in security, which has been an industry dominated by white males for decades now. This is thankfully changing, with a more diverse industry being reflected in panels across the world. If you have individuals at your company who can help to foster a more inclusive image of the security industry, this will undoubtedly give the submission a big boost, as well as displaying the best of our industry as it works to address some of the inclusivity issues which have plagued it in the past!
These are not a fool-proof solution to the problem of speaking solutions, but they could certainly make the difference between a submission which gets ignored, and one which stands out. In a crowded marketplace such as this, every little helps!