Conference Marketing and Promotion: Where is the “conference” in a conference?
Marketing and branding of a conference depends upon its value proposition for its participants. Currently value proposition of most conferences is often every thing except the “confer” part of the conference, which means exchange of ideas and discussions. Typical value propositions of existing conferences include (i) site seeing, (ii) establishing contacts, (iii) “presenting” papers, (iv) citing conference papers in CVs and research profiles, (v) making money, (vi) gaining promotional mileage, etc where exchange of ideas does not happens except as a side-effect. One-to-many presentations by a paper reader who is totally glued to and dependent on the slides and with no eye contact or engagement with the participants has downgraded the value of conferences. Typically, research paper presentations are only attended by other paper presenters who keep on leaving after their presentations till a time comes that the last presenter is addressing an empty hall. They disappear for site seeing immediately after their presentations. Any discussion and exchange of ideas that do take place happen on the sidelines when participants bunk the conference sessions. Challenge for marketing and promotion of a conference is to establish clearly its value proposition and work on ensuring that worthwhile discussion and exchange ideas takes place during the conference sessions. Panel discussions is often a mechanism to engage the participants and the speakers in interactive discussions but this seldom happens because the moderators are often ill-equipped to catalyze a worthwhile energetic exchange of ideas. The challenge for marketing and promotion of a conference is to ensure the catalyzing of deep discussions about the major issues of the conference themes. This talk would focus on the challenge of connecting the marketing and promotion of a conference with its content and its value proposition.
[Keynote Speech at IEEE mini POCO 2017, Sep 19, 2017, Organized by IEEEP, CIIT, HEC, Falettis’ Hotel, Lahore.]