Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Money Matters

The naive among us presume when you go to a conference and you pay an entrance ticket you will get independent viewpoints and insights and although there may be some vendor stands that’s all that is paid for. When you read a press release and statement of endorsement from a industry body we assume it was given freely and openly. After all when you go to trade fairs you expect to pay little, if anything, to enter and know that you will be sold to at every opportunity. We all know that when you contribute to a feature article in the press that the advertising editor will place a call asking you to buy ad space. You may say no, but often its not easy.

Perhaps we are of an age that expects or respects independence and are cynical when we don’t receive it. Conferences, fairs, press are never free and are businesses that need to be paid for. Visibility and a voice to project yourself and your services is afterall is what you pay marketing monies to achieve. Tying the two together is logical to any vendor.

All the organisations we have worked for have never paid to buy a speaker slot at a conference. In fact we often feel it is to be valued then it should be the other way round. We remember fondly the ‘Publishing in the 21st Century’ research and conference programme which was effectively free, independent but clearly paid for by the vendor, Vista. It sad to see an industry digital conference today that is getting the 'must go' treatment and offers so much in what it has to say, but where the entrant pays to go, the vendors pay to exhibit and according to their contribution are ‘given’ speaker slots with little if no editorial input and where others vendors merely can buy speaker slots. These conferences are often focused on the very issues that are topical but sadly are often not worth the effort nor the support they are given. The keys to watch for are graded levels of vendor sponsorships, wall to wall vendor stands and speakers and slots clearly managed by the vendors and worst of all an entrance fee.

Personally we will not be spending thousands of pounds to secure a speaking slot, tied or not to a stand, nor paying an industry body to get a supportive quote on a press release. We believe that there are many who seek genuine help through these digital times and we should not be ‘cashing in’ on them or the vendor’s eagerness to sell in the name of clarity.