What better way to build visibility and relationships with a specific target audience than landing speaking opportunities? It builds credibility and influence, plus it’s fantastic for generating leads. In fact, some use it as their primary lead generation tool or a valued revenue stream, and the PR agency or employee that can generate active leads is an extremely valuable part of the team. (This impacts client retention or job security nicely – whoot!).
There’s a gold mine of opportunities waiting for you. If you haven’t added them to your overall strategy, now’s the perfect time to take a closer look, and be proactive bringing up this tactic before it’s requested.
For agencies, the research can also be a nice way to upsell an extra project fee that is worth every single penny to their client, or a value-add to wrap into an existing retainer as time allows. And for in-house PR pros, it can be a project that has a major pay-off in bringing you to the attention of company leadership.
Most people who handle traditional public relations think of speaking opportunities – but they overlook the ONLINE SPEAKING opportunities: webinars, podcasts, Twitter chats and Google hangouts. They are all viable speaking opportunities and essential ways to build visibility online. They also give significant credibility to the speaker and build their reputation as a sought-after expert in their industry, in exactly the same way speaking does but with a potentially larger audience.
Plus, online speaking opportunities often offer ways to archive and repurpose the event in a way that public speaking in person does not, unless you have a videographer at hand.
So how do you find speaking opportunities?
Here is a mix of ways to find public speaking opportunities and online ones. It can be handled as one large research project, or tackled a little bit at a time. If you spread out the work, it can be helpful to schedule the time and task just like you would for a meeting. Otherwise, it’s easy to overlook when you are slammed with other things.
1. Find relevant speaking directories.
If you put a search engine to work with keywords that narrow the field, such as “find a speaker” or “be a speaker” plus your city, state and/or industry – an assortment of readily available speaker directories should pop up for you to sort through. If it seems appropriate, look for a submit form or contact information, and begin the process to get yourself (or your key executive) included. Being listed in these directories can help for both online and offline opportunities.
Even an hour invested in this task is beneficial.
2. Look for industry conferences, trade shows and associations.
Even with just an hour of google searching, you’re bound to find at least a half dozen great opportunities. The trick is to first identify the target audience you want to reach, then match up trade shows, associations, conferences, webinars and podcasts that reach that audience.
Don’t assume direct industry events are best. If your goal is to generate leads, look for vertical markets that might reach them more effectively. A mix of inside and outside of the industry might be important. For example, if you have are doing PR for social media mentions software, then looking just within the marketing and social media industries is limiting. You want to identify other vertical markets that are likely to need that software. Customer service, chain retail storefronts, human resources, there are many rich opportunities to be more visible to those who might buy that product. Think about that for your own client or employer, and tie the audience you want to reach to the end goal. If they don’t connect, don’t bother.
3. Identify online influencers who do webinars, podcasts, Twitter chats and/or Google Hangouts. One benefit of reaching out to influencers is their already-established audience. But even more than that, they are always hungry for special guests or sponsors who can add value to their community and share the right kinds of expertise. (Learn how to find influencers here.)
Here are a eight fast tactics that I find useful in finding these:
- Once you identify the right influencers, look at their websites. If they do any kind of online event, it is usually hosted or spotlighted on their website, along with special guest requirements and/or contact information.
- If looking at vertical markets, look at the websites of major competitors in that market to see if they offer or sponsor online events that might be a fit.
- Look at industry association social media platforms. If they don’t do any online events, they might promote notable ones in their industry.
- Ask in industry social media events.
- Search twitter – events of all kinds are often promoted on Twitter and a native search on Twitter itself might quickly bring them up for you.
- Use Google. Don’t just search for influencers, do searches with the name of the industry partnered with words like “webinar” and “podcast” to see what comes up.
- Search the industry and a variety of possible hashtags directly on the relevant social media platforms – use Twitter to find tweet chats and Google Plus to search for hangouts. For example, on Twitter, search your industry plus the words “twitter chat” – such as “health care twitter chat.” You can also use directory resources such as Twubs, Chat Salad and GPhangouts. Once you have the right ones identified, send the host or moderator a tweet asking if they are open to having special guests on their chat. Follow up with an email pitch.
- Open your iTunes app and look at the “podcast” category. It is searchable and a rich source for identifying who consistently offers podcasts, and which ones include special guests.
Do you have other ways you find these? Ideas? Share this post and add your comment. Let’s start a conversation about it!