Are you making the most of conferences?
As a PR professional, you’ll attend a lot of them, partly because of executive positioning, but also because continuous learning is part of the job.
When you attend any industry event or conference, make the most of your trip for your clients and executives—and for yourself.
1. Familiarize yourself with the event logistics. You’ll get questions from clients and colleagues about the conference venue or schedule. Before running to the events, familiarize yourself with the space, the locations of specific sessions and where resources/facilities are.
2. Use onsite opportunities for more exposure. If you’re staffing an event for a spokesperson or client, explore the onsite opportunities to gain exposure for your company, whether it’s broadcast media or a blog post for the conference organizers. It also helps to build relationships with journalists, because you’re all onsite and have the opportunity for face time.
3. Attend in person and on social media. With conferences attracting hundreds if not thousands of people, it’s impossible to talk face to face with everyone. Social media activity, such as connecting attendees via hashtags, is a great way to interact with others.
4. Use conversation themes to inform media pitches. At conferences you’ll hear industry experts discussing important trends. After attending a few panels, you’ll pick up on themes. These can inform your pitches and help you and clients prioritize the storylines that you want to tell (and identify those you don’t).
5. Prepare to be flexible. Your itinerary will change, and calendars will become conflicted. Anticipate changes—and don’t freak out.
6. Network when possible. Industry conferences attract professionals who do similar work or have similar interests. That means that you’ll have something to talk about with almost everyone attending. Especially for young professionals, networking is essential; you never know whom you’ll meet.
7. Think about how you can go above and beyond. Consider other ways to get involved in and around the conference. Are there relationship-building meetings you can set up with various stakeholders? Are there networking events? Can you build something original that plays off the theme(s) of the event? Be creative—everyone is in one place at the same time, and it’s a great scenario for creating opportunities.
Julia Sahin works in corporate communications at a top New York PR firm. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.