How Managing A Speaking Program Is Like Training For A Marathon

Apr 30, 2014 Rachel Nelson

In the past few weeks, running has been the most popular topic in Boston. This, for an avid runner like me, has been fantastic. But all this talk about goal attainment has come at a time when we are intensely focused on quarterly PR planning for our clients. And that has me thinking about what’s behind success. Running a marathon doesn't come to fruition without many months of training, planning and hard work. I find the same is true in managing a successful speaking program for clients.

Industry conferences offer numerous opportunities, from keynote and panel speaking opportunities to media briefings and networking. As PR professionals, one of our top priorities is keeping our client’s spokespeople in the spotlight of their industry, and preparing them for those opportunities – check out my colleague Linda’s recent blog post, tips for speaking at a conference - and nailing it. Conferences are some of the hardest, and most important, milestones for company executives. Behind those triumphant moments are many long hours of preparation.

So, what are some best practices in training for a marathon that can be applied to successfully executing conference programs in tech PR? Here are three:

  1. Create a plan of action: This first step is mostly about process and planning. In race training, your due diligence is setting up a timeline, and your goals for pace and mileage. For conference programs, this step entails determining which events (nationally and globally) are most important to have a speaking presence and where they fall throughout the year, as well as which can be sponsored events, and where you should schedule meetings between spokespeople and media.
  2. Follow-through: Running is all about mental and physical execution – from those first steps to the last. Securing a speaking engagement for clients means identifying their core thought leadership and executing this point-of-view on a relevant panel or keynote. This step is about making the most of your resources, developing plans for associated releases and social media posts to capitalize on the opportunity, in addition to knowing who will be your champion to get the information and approvals necessary.
  3. Stretch it out: Sometimes, you've followed all the above steps but you don’t make it to your goal. When that happens, you have to pick your head up and look ahead to the next race on the horizon. For speaking programs, you’ll win some and lose some; you’ll secure speaking slots and get rejected from others. But either way, you’re not done. To steal the words of Lisa Mokaba, don’t check out even if you couldn't check in. Make the most of conference time, because even if your client isn't there, all is not lost.

With these tips you’re ‘ready, set, go’ for speaking program success! For more inspiration on running marathons – check out a recent post by our Senior VP, Tina Cassidy.

Topics: Media Relations, Public Relations, PR
Rachel Nelson

Rachel has a decade of experience across both B2B and B2C technology. She spearheads diverse communications programs for clients ranging from emerging venture-backed startups to post-IPO companies with the same mentality: transparency, teamwork and never backing down from a challenge. She works with some of Inkhouse’s most innovative, fast-growing clients in the Bay Area including Okta, Nutanix, Grammarly, Strava, Neo4j and Databricks.

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