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Communicating at conferences 04.02.16

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As communications professionals we often attend conferences within our own industry or within the industries of our wide client base. These events vary significantly in their success, their appeal and their all-round value. This week, we join our client, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) at their second annual conference in Glasgow and as we engage with the audience on the ground and online; we look at what makes a great conference in terms of communications.

Here are five top tips from us to help your conference go with a bang:

  1. Building momentum

It’s important to embed a level of excitement in your delegates before they even walk through your door. Providing them with a conference programme is a starting point, but engaging content such as pre-show newsletters, tweets and blogs can really help to inspire them and convert them from a registration to an attendee. Think about this in the long term and look at core themes at least six weeks before the event.

  1. Have a clear news agenda

If you’ve followed step one then you should have a clear idea about the messages for the show. The next step is to create some news. It’s not always easy to create the news flow and you won’t necessarily always have something groundbreaking to say at a show, but in the months leading up to the event carefully consider any news items and if they can be delayed, keep them back to share with your captive audience. You can also work with speakers and partners to share their news in order to add as many hooks as possible. Make sure that if you have lots of announcements that you spread them over the course of the event and if you are engaging press, give them plenty of notice of what they might expect.

  1. A social community

Social media serves two key purposes at events. Firstly it helps to connect the audience that are on the floor at the show. By tweeting and highlighting key activities and things to do, it reminds people to visit more attractions and the conversation can help spark interesting rhetoric among your guests. It also helps to attract an audience wider than those who walk through your door, extending your reach and highlighting you as a thought leader in the industry.

  1. Capture the moment

There will be a number of things that you want to capture from your event, not just in terms of data and numbers, but also the mood and conversations on the day. Look at ways to engage with your delegates and extract qualitative information from them. Explore using voxpops and blogs to document what speakers have to say; take high levels of photographs so you have them to use in future communications and allow delegates to feedback on their experience of the event during as well as after the day.

  1. Keep in touch

It may seem blaringly obvious, but communications after an event is often not thought of as a high enough priority. Your aim should be to get people talking about the event and encourage delegates to not only return next year, but bring a raft of contacts with them too. It’s also likely to be a little while before they hear from you again, especially if your event is annual, so plan a campaign to touch base with them soon after the event, and then again a month or so later with some fresh content.

Communications isn’t the only thing that will make your conference a success, but it will go a long way in helping people to feel connected to your event and converting them to a repeat customer; so it’s certainly worth some consideration.

We work with a number of our clients to produce unique communication plans for events in the UK and the rest of the world. Interested in finding out how we can help you? Email Bryony to find out more.