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How Speaking & Awards Programs Work Wonders for PR

This post was first published by Sarah Hurley on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.

 There are a number of tactics that public relations professionals use to establish clients as thought- leaders, including running influencer relations and contributed content campaigns. But another important element that helps our clients stand out is maintaining targeted and thorough speaking and awards programs. Speaking programs allow clients the opportunity to present at industry events and elevate their presence beyond just “event attendees,” instead joining the ranks of star-studded headliners.

But securing these slots isn’t always easy. There are three critical best practices that help make a business stand out:

Strong Speaking Abstracts

Responsibilities aren’t just given away freely — clients need to earn them. That means PR professionals need to wow judges with submissions. Strong submissions often include impactful customer use cases, as well as references to third-party validation, typically from analysts. If the client has a robust content wheel, we often repurpose byline topics and pitching angles, and incorporate survey data and press releases whenever possible.

Leveraging the Back Channels

Sometimes, no matter how much “zing” your submission provides, judges won’t look twice if they don’t know you. That is why we maintain strong relationships with the influencers who run or sit on the panels of various industry events. We encourage our clients to brief these targets regularly so that they always remain top-of-mind for sacred speaking slots.

Capable Brand Ambassadors

Getting in is more than half the battle, but that doesn’t mean a PR pro’s job is done once the client gets accepted. You need to make sure the executive has the public speaking skills and confidence to speak articulately in front of large audiences. Most importantly, the spokesperson needs to stay in line with corporate messaging. We often provide media training prior to large events to prepare them for the numerous face-to-face appointments that we set up for them, too.

Highlight Achievements

In addition to helping clients join the speaker circuit, we recommend complementing this with a strong focus on important accolades to give them an edge over competitors. Awards are an excellent means of sharing client success stories in creative ways, and can be an opportunity to showcase a new side of the business. For instance, in addition to technical awards, we also focus on opportunities recognizing people and innovation in order to promote a unique individual or corporate initiative that would otherwise go unnoticed. Like speaking submissions, award abstracts should always be enhanced with use cases and outside validation when possible. Examples of a company’s success can always be packaged into other forms of content, such as press releases, blog posts, and certainly talking points when interacting with media and analysts.

With tradeshow season heating up, what are some of your strategies for stealing the show? We want to hear from you!

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