In order to generate new interest and invitations for speaking engagements, speakers need to get their content to potential buyers. Speakers do this when they do not have enough referrals or enough showcasing opportunities in their business to generate enough leads that might turn into speaking engagements. The ultimate buyers are organizations that hire speakers, as well as meeting planners and speaker’s bureaus who introduce speakers to these organizations.
Outreach and Lead Generation Programs
There are three types of outreach programs to generate leads the VSA might be involved in for the speaker, one directed to local speaking opportunities, the second to more national associations and the final one to the media.
Conventions and Other Local Speaking Opportunities
The first type of outreach program is directly to buyers who are in the process of selecting speakers. Many speakers create local businesses by becoming a member of their convention and visitors bureau or some other leads group like the American Society of Associations Executives or Meeting Professionals International. Sometimes speakers will buy lists from those organizations and then send emails or letters to potential buyers who are planning to host events in the speaker’s location. This works best in large cities which are typical convention locations.
National Association and Event Outreach Programs
A related type of outreach program is a multiple postcard campaign where the speaker will send a series of three or four postcards to this same audience or one that has a wider geographic component, like national associations.
Another possibility might be to send a hard copy or emailed article to executives or opinion leaders in a particular industry. The cover letter might say: “We thought this article would be of interest to you and we would love to speak at your next event on this topic”.
The point of these efforts is to let new people know about the speaker and the speaker’s topic of expertise.
The VSAs Role in Outreach to Local or National Event Planners
The VSA’s role is as follows:
1. Help develop the lists to send to or help the speaker buy lists from MPI or ASAE, or through membership in the local convention and visitors bureau.
2. Help develop speakers bureau lists, based on criteria the speaker has established.
3. Help develop a list of associations by industry, based on criteria the speaker has established. For example, if the speaker’s target market is business owners under $10 million in revenue, the VSA can research associations whose members fit that demographic.
4. Give the speaker a spreadsheet report of speaking opportunities the VSA has uncovered, with dates of required RFP submission and event dates and have the speaker choose which to submit RFPs to.
5. Submit RFPs (most will be on line) for speaking opportunities when they fit what the speaker is looking for. For example, the speaker may only want to speak to groups of 200 or more that pay at least $1,000 for a workshop and only work in the Spring or Fall since his or her kids will be home over the summer.
6. Maintain the spreadsheet report so the speaker knows the outcome of each outreach.
7. For a postcard or other mailing, coordinate the mailing with a mailing house, or depending on the size of the mailing, do the mailing in-house.
Staying in Contact with Long Term Potential Buyers
A final type of outreach is for people who are not ready to buy, but are big fans of the speaker. The speaker wants to maintain this connection, but the outreach might only need to be once or twice a year.
Make sure that the speaker really reaches out in a personal way. For example, if a speaker is speaking in Florida in Disney World, he or she could pick up a package of postcards of Mickey Mouse and then jot off a quick note to some of their top prospects that they want to keep in the loop, “Hey, we’re having fun down here with Mickey, wish you were here.” That kind of fun communication really goes a long way toward keeping the speaker top of mind with prospects who may be taking longer to make a decision than the speaker would like.
The final way is to leverage media. All media is very deadline-oriented and mostly news-driven. Therefore, it is important to have a media kit with all the speaker’s background information so that when a media opportunity presents itself, the speaker is ready.
There are three primary kinds of media:
- Broadcast media – television and radio
- Print media – newspapers and magazines
- Online media – websites, blogs, podcasts, Internet radio shows
The best time to do outreach to the media is when the speaker is an expert on a current news story, especially if the speaker has a controversial or different viewpoint than what is typically heard.
If you have developed a full media list, then it will be easy to send out an email with a quote from the speaker on the news story. Once you attract media, the easiest way to get out a message to them is if they follow the speaker on Facebook or Twitter, but you will have to get their attention first.
Broadcast media is the most deadline-oriented and sometimes will only give the speaker moments to prepare before an interview. Online media can also be deadline-oriented, but because it is relatively easy to change something on a blog or website, journalists can go back and rewrite and update as needed.
Print media has the longest lead times, so they are more interested in stories that will have longer-term staying power and might include more interviews, polls and statistics.
The VSAs Role with the Media
1. Creating a media list, starting with local media and progressing to national media
2. Creating relationships with the media, especially media that covers the speaker’s topic of expertise
3. Sending out only those things that are news-related to show an understanding of how the media works and why your speaker will be a pro when given a media opportunity
4. Getting all the relevant details on the media outlet, the producer and the show host or journalist so the speaker can be fully prepared
5. Posting any media events on the speaker’s website after the fact
6. Using social media to highlight the event before and after
Creating a Media List
Professional journalists use services such as Vocus or Cision to do their research on who to contact in the media, but these cost many thousands of dollars to subscribe per year, so they are not affordable for the average speaker or VSA. You might be able to work with a publicist to access some of these resources if you are lucky.
You are looking for as many media outlets as you can find that you think might be interested in the speaker as an expert to be interviewed. Your media list should include the type of media, the topic of interest and an individual contact name and email. It is not always easy to find contact information for journalists and producers because they will be deluged with requests if they are too available.
In pre-Internet days, the Bacon’s Media Directories (still available for about $650 per volume) were the source for creating a media list. This online version has now become Cision and media contacts are available online (but for thousands of dollars per year).
If you are in a hurry and the client is willing to spend some money, you can create a media list with the help of www.BulldogReporter.com. You can download media contacts for $2 per name.
With a little diligence you can compile a working media list for your speaker with free resources. Here is what you are looking for and sources for finding it:
Broadcast (and all) Media
Television – look for the name and contact information for the assignments editor or section editor
- Internet Public Library – list of U.S. newspapers and magazines by state and world publications World Newspapers and Magazines
- Mondo Times
TVA Productions – all sorts of media in the U.S. by type and location Radio – look for the news director or talk show producers.
Print Media – look for the editor or managing editor. There are often websites associated with print media that carry more or different stories. This is a valuable place for great stories.
TradePub – business and trade publications
Online Media Bloggers, website owners, Internet radio sites, podcasters
Media Outlets Using Twitter (US and World)
Technorati– Blog search engine
Blog Talk Radio – List of popular Internet radio shows
Part of the media effort is publicizing news, research and product launches. A publicist can generate interviews, but it is much more cost effective for the VSA to help the speaker sign up for a lead service such as PR Leads or Help a Reporter Out –HARO (free service).