Make it Happen

by Matthew Stollak on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

This week marked the beginning of the 2012 HR conference season with the Transform HR Conference in Austin, TX.

As a confession, I attended the conference on a press pass which helped defray much of the cost of attending.  This certainly was not the first time that I was able to attend a conference on a press pass, and I hope it is not the last.

But, it made me think about expectations.

I assume the conference organizations are looking for something in exchange for that press pass.  Is it several blog posts?  Significant presence on Twitter?  Promotion of the event prior to it taking place?  Does the expectation change if "compensation" increases (e.g., covering the cost of hotel room and/or airfare...or more)?

What is the obligation on the part of those comped for conference registration?  Should conference organizers be clearer about said expectations before offering free registration (let alone other forms of compensation)?  Are conference organizers looking back after the event is over and reviewing the contributions they comped to see a return on the investment compared to the "lost" revenue (then again would those comped be willing to pay to attend otherwise)?  Should there be an ex post facto reward to those who made significant social media contributions during the conference?

Are those who are receiving the benefit going above and beyond what they would otherwise be doing?  Should they as a result of receiving this benefit?

What say you?


From Steve "the Godfather" Browne:

“Matt you make a really great point here. I think that too often people are brought into conferences to give glowing reports (even if they aren't warranted).

I'd rather have people attend the full conference and be fully engaged as attendees and/or speakers. If they feel led to writing about their experience, then great. I'd rather have it be natural vs. being brought in as an observer.

I know there's value in getting "press" for your event. I would just rather have you genuinely connected first. Getting to know you as a fellow HR pro is more important than having you write things. Relationship last forever and blog posts about a day or so.”

Peace – Steve

by Anonymous on February 29, 2012 at 12:57 PM. #

I don't know if this is the "official position" of the folks at ERE but it's my position at least.

There's pressure and incentive to "wag the dog" so to speak on events. You bring in the right people who will tweet and write about an event in enough quantity and you'll get attention. What do you have to do to get the right people? Sometimes it is paying travel and expenses. Sometimes it is paying outright.

(Full disclosure: I've agreed to have T&E paid for me to cover an event, though not since I've been employed with ERE. I continue to decline those invitations.)

My preference is to put together a conference that will be attractive from a content standpoint. Not only does that mean you get the best mix of people that want to attend, but you hopefully get people and orgs who find it interesting enough to cover on its own merits.

Of course, my preference is that every one of our invited press would do what you did, Matt: provide great coverage of what we've tried to do with the conference. Tweets, blogs, etc...

But at least as far as what I would *expect* for handing out a press pass, it's pretty easy:

1. You come to the event
2. We hope you publish something about the event (good, bad, indifferent)
3. You connect with other attendees

We can help connect you with people at the event (speakers, vendors, etc...) but our main job is to ensure our content is great so you want to be there and want to share about what happened.

by Lance on February 29, 2012 at 4:48 PM. #

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