The Future Of Conferences And Events: A PR Planner’s View

A year ago, our B2B Tech PR clients were finalizing their 2020 conference speaking strategies, looking forward to sponsoring or winning speaking gigs at tech stalwarts like Cannes Lion, DreamForce, and Hubspot INBOUND.

That was then. As the pandemic hit the U.S., I recall the first big event to cancel was South By South West (SXSW). Soon, the event dominoes toppled in a quick series of cancellations and postponements, with most moving their meetings to the fall. We were speculating about how jam-packed the fourth-quarter 2020 tech calendar would be – and that was in some ways true, but only on our screens. Event producers hustled to pivot to virtual conferences, which forced innovation throughout the entire live events industry.

Now, as tech leaders look at their PR and marketing 2021 calendars, they see a transformed conference ecosystem. Here’s what the near and distant future will look like in the evolving world of live events.

Live will return, but don’t count on it in 2021

After a year of Zoom meetings, virtual happy hours, and family Facetime calls, most would agree that there is no substitute for in-real-life (IRL) experiences. The B2B world in particular is dependent on live events to meet business objectives; (97%) of B2B marketers believe that in-person events have a major impact on business outcomes. Everybody wants IRL, but only 62% of event marketers are planning to resume in-person events in 2021. Many conference producers have announced their 2021 in-person events in hopes that vaccines will quell fears and increase confidence about attendance. But as happened in 2020, live events like Cannes Lions, currently planned for June 2021, may have to be postponed yet again or adapted to a virtual platform. The Consumer Electronics Show and SXSW have gone virtual this year, and most events well into summer are still being planned in virtual or hybrid formats.

Virtual is more “real” than ever

In 2020, necessity became the mother of innovation. B2Bs and media outlets rely heavily on their own events and industry conferences as full-funnel engines of customer engagement, conversion, and retention.  Many raced to transform their annual conferences to virtual experiences. Some like Social Media Week did so with astonishing speed, revamping its model in 3-4 weeks. At first in survival mode, they were just salvaging what they could of their event marketing programs. Yet savvy producers created compelling online conferences with the help of tech advances and good old-fashioned creativity. They created ways for attendees to interact and network in real time virtually, for exhibitors to have virtual booths, and for sponsors to enjoy robust ROI in virtual environments. As some conferences embark on their second virtual event in 2021, they will offer experiences that are compelling and interactive, approximating the IRL experience more than ever before.

The future is hybrid

The scramble to salvage vital pieces of the B2B marketing mix has produced a positive by-product. In-person conferences will almost inevitably include online, on-demand, and other virtual elements that will result in better overall attendee and sponsor experiences, improved personalization, and new opportunities to engage attendees with broader reach. Event producers who had never dipped toes into online elements are now busy incorporating virtual tracks into their conferences permanently.  The bar has risen for online conferences, with better video production value, live attendee chats and Q&As, and virtual exhibition halls. In 2021 and beyond, there will be very few live conferences that do not offer some kind of online element. Still, event solution providers and marketers are still addressing the biggest challenges of staging online conferences, mainly how to mimic the electricity of real-life, one-to-one human engagement.  In a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario, the future of tech conferences in particular is certainly hybrid, combining the magic of face-to-face interaction with the technological efficiency, data collection, and broad reach of virtual meetings.

Trade organizations like the Consumer Technology Association, B2B techs like SalesForce, media companies like Digiday, and independent event producers like SXSW are all adjusting to the strange new normal. Perhaps because they see the upside of lower barriers to entry and reduced costs, a few event producers like O’Reilly Media seem to have no plans to return to IRL, opting to hold their Strata Data and AI events in fully online environments. But no matter how event marketers decide to handle their meetings, tech conferences will be better in the coming months and years, as they benefit from a crisis that forced us to rethink the everyday.

Five Types Of Bylined Content That Work For PR

As outlined in my post on PR tips for effective bylines, bylined content is a powerful part of a B2B PR plan. It can help deliver key messages, communicate expertise and drive thought leadership for business brands. But there are many types of content that build credibility and leadership as part of a strategic PR program. Here are five of the most common.

Traditional Trend Piece

Content that explains a new or emerging trend is among the most valuable for business customers because it helps educate prospects. Educational content is particularly useful for any category with a long purchase cycle and steep learning curve, like software or insurance. Executives who are subject-matter experts can share relevant insights on business happenings. These will typically include a specific point of view about an industry trend, what it means, how businesses should prepare or respond, and possibly even how they can help, although this may only be implied. For example, we represent several ad tech companies at a time when major browsers like Chrome are phasing out support for third-party cookies. What does this mean for digital advertising? How can marketers cope? What does it do for publishers? These issues seem arcane for anyone outside the industry, but they’re hot-button topics in the ad tech lane because the community is rushing to adapt. As in any category, change represents opportunity for those who can seize it.

Personal/Lessons Learned

We love this type of piece because we represent high-growth technology companies often led by entrepreneurs, and they all have stories to tell. What’s more, these pieces are usually both well differentiated and authentic. The important thing to bear in mind for “lessons learned” content is that the most influential and widely shared articles will offer insights for the reader as well as an interesting personal experience. Right now, many businesses have learned and changed enormously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among our base of clients there are some excellent stories about what they’ve learned, how they’ve adapted and how they’re continuing to navigate the situation as business leaders and as citizens. A “lessons learned” piece is also among the most versatile, and it can usually be augmented or even replaced by a video version. 

Service Content

This type of content can overlap with the “lessons learned” category, but it is typically more tactical and less personal. It may also be far more grounded in research. An effective service piece can be in the form of a whitepaper that offers proprietary industry data and outlines key steps for customers who face a specific decision or business dilemma. The best service articles are generous with data but offer clear tips, steps, or checklists for moving a business forward, responding to customer preferences, or effecting specific change. Service content is among the easiest and best types of content for incorporating different types of visuals beyond text, including digital graphics, charts, and short video snippets. 

Opinion/Contrarian Piece

This type of contributed content showcases a personal opinion on an important business, social, or cultural matter. Op-ed pieces and bylined articles are a staple in politics, but they’re equally effective for entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to communicate their ideas and build a reputation for bold thinking. The most effective such articles set out a single take or point of view and back it up with statistics, experience, or other evidence. An op-ed is a perfect vehicle for experts who want to help shape a public conversation. A contrarian opinion and/or a strong call to action can help an op-ed writer stand out. In our world, a less popular opinion may have a better chance of being published in an influential business or trade outlet – but only if it is authentic. 


A Call To Action, or CTA, can exist in nearly any type of content but it’s worth calling out because it is essential to achieving content marketing goals. The CTA tells a target audience what action they should take after reading through the post. The most basic CTAs involve encouraging the customer to buy a product or service. Other types might involve asking readers to share the content, make a donation, subscribe to emails, and so forth. CTAs should be short and concise so the reader knows exactly what to do and can easily follow through. 

Leverage bylined articles for maximum exposure

After deciding on your content mix, it’s important to make sure it is seen by the most relevant target audience. Any business can ensure that its pieces are seen by those who matter most: clients, prospects, referral sources, alumni, colleagues, internal staff, and, of course, the media outlets that influence different segments. Promoting content social media and encouraging others to share it as well is important for gaining maximum exposure for your piece. Direct marketing to customers and employees through timely emails is also useful. We will explore the best ways to merchandise business content in an upcoming post. 


PR Tactics To Boost Executive Visibility

PR is one of the best ways to build visibility for a corporate brand while getting the word out about a given product or service. And a fundamental part of any effective PR campaign is a healthy focus on executive visibility.

These days, business leaders can’t afford to sit on the sidelines and simply run their company with the expectation that their PR team will do the heavy lifting. A C-level executive is the face of the company and often its brand. They must be willing to share business advice, comment on key trends affecting their category, and use their position as a platform for communicating expertise on an industry-wide scale.

Here are some key tactics for PR pros to build executive visibility and thought leadership.

Finding a voice in the media

Executives should be seen as thought leaders – first and foremost – by the journalists who cover their industry. This usually doesn’t happen overnight. PR teams need to be vigilant in identifying opportunities for business leaders to weigh in on relevant news and issues. Whether it’s a reactive pitch about Amazon’s effects on a startup ecosystem or a proactive push about a company’s unusual approach to online marketing – execs should always be using the media as a platform to educate relevant audiences.

Bylines and blogs

A leadership campaign should include a robust bylined content program. PR pros should consistently make inroads for executives to become regular contributors to both trade and mainstream publications. These opportunities give executives a range of content to use as a way to address customer concerns, offer fresh ideas, or introduce new thinking to the industry. They also help shine a light on the personality behind the exec, positioning them as someone with a compelling point of view.

Once an exec has established a cadence for generating proactive opinion pieces, they can be leveraged for internal blog content, made actionable through a growing Medium page and posted to LinkedIn to encourage dialogue among other professionals and showcase expertise. See this post for tips on writing stellar executive bylines.

Become a constant at conferences

Speaking at events and conferences is another excellent way for PR teams to build executive visibility. Conferences must be relevant and the subject matter should play to the core strengths of an executive’s abilities as a brand ambassador. If done right, this strategy can drive both visibility and credibility, while giving execs a chance to network with other like-minded business leaders or prospects. See this earlier post for tips on getting speaking engagements.

Take home some hardware

Awards confer that invaluable third-party endorsement, especially for entrepreneurs. For example, the Stevie American Business Awards have categories for “tech innovator of the year,” “maverick of the year,” and “woman of the year.” Just imagine amplifying the news that your founder was named a Glassdoor Employees Choice Top CEO on the company’s awards page, blog posts, social channels, and press releases. But don’t stop at general biz and entrepreneurship awards. Many verticals feature individual categories like “executive of the year” or “CEO of the year.”

Get social

We live in a world where social media can make or break a business. These days brands tweet like real people, and certain business leaders have created cult-like followings. As PR campaigns become more integrated, social media is a larger focus for more effective executive visibility. Yet research tells us that 70 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs have no presence on social networks, and many of those who do aren’t very active. Technology executives and entrepreneurs tend to be more comfortable on social media, but others are simply gun-shy.

PR teams should encourage business leaders to find their voice on social media as a way to boost a CEO’s personal profile organically. They should consider LinkedIn and Twitter, for example, to identify and connect with industry influencers, engage with customers and interact with peers. Social media – if used correctly – can humanize an executive and give the average joe a better understanding of the values and ethics that flow into a brand.  

PR Tactics To Show Company Values

PR is an essential business function for imparting a company’s values and beliefs to the public. Because earned media confers credibility, it can be decidedly more powerful than marketing and advertising. With the public too cynical to buy into ads trumpeting a company’s inherent beliefs, public relations offers that all-important third-party acclaim. If a young company has something special in its DNA like a unique workplace culture, a mission to radically change the industry, or bold opinions on social issues, then communicating these values can be a powerful differentiator.
Here are five PR tactics to get the word out on an organization’s values.

Partners with the same values

Hitching the wagon to a like-minded organization or influencer can go a long way in communicating values. If a tech company only uses only renewable energy, then it might partner with an environmental group for an issues awareness campaign about the environmental impact of high-tech products. Just as people’s values are often judged by the friends they keep, a company’s associations help inform its public image. Plus, any messaging about the campaign receives wider amplification, since both partners communicate on their owned and shared channels. For example, Patagonia’s partnership with famous climber Tommy Caldwell (“rock climbing ambassador”) reinforces both parties’ values. See this earlier post for more on better PR with third-party partnerships.

Take the stage

Speaking engagements are an effective way to shape executive thought leadership. If a company has developed a unique method for recruiting a diverse workforce, for example, its spokespeople can earn speaking sessions at diversity and inclusion, workplace culture, and HR industry conferences. By consistently educating others the company is putting its values of inclusion on display while boosting brand visibility in a strategic way. Winning unpaid speaking engagements at industry events carries added prestige over sponsored, so they can be worth the extra effort. See this post for more on winning these prime speaking engagements.

Create your own event

By creating its own conference or other media event, a company can make an even more emphatic statement of its values and mission. Crenshaw client Bizzabo, a leading event software company, wanted to take action after research confirmed that tech events overwhelming feature male speakers and attendees to the tune of 70% and 80% respectively. To take action and amplify its push for gender diversity, it created its own women’s leadership half-day conference called Empower, held on International Women’s Day. It’s precisely the type of commitment that could grow into a recognized element of a company’s reputation as an advocate for gender diversity in tech.

Executive content

When it comes to pitching executive bylines to the media, tech companies naturally tend to focus on topics related to its space and solutions. However, PR teams shouldn’t forget to join conversations related to industry and social issues when relevant. If the executive has a strong or contrarian point of view on topics of evergreen interest, then she should write blog entries, LinkedIn posts, and pitch bylines to key outlets. Of course, the company has to walk the walk before the media will listen to its talk. One of our clients found a powerful platform after it decided to buy back the business from the venture capital company that funded it. It was only after it went through with the transaction that it had the credibility to promote corporate values like independence and reasonable growth (as opposed to VC-cash-fueled hypergrowth.) As with all PR tactics, conversations supported by substance and/or data have a better chance of gaining coverage. See this post for tips on writing stellar bylines.

Corporate activism

A bolder way to communicate a company’s value system is through reactive commentary on trending social or political issues. If done well and backed by authentic action, the executive can exert influence while the brand becomes synonymous with a distinct set of beliefs. See this post for more on CEOs embracing corporate activism.
Not all companies focus on beliefs or have a point of view that transcends business. But if a business does have a unique ethos, it should use PR to get the word out. By consistently communicating a coherent set of values through various PR tactics, an organization will gain reputational capital for something substantive that can separate itself from the herd.

PR’s Top Tech Events For Executive Speaking Gigs

Sure, it’s only February, but if a technology company is serious about a consistent thought leadership drumbeat at industry conferences, its PR team needs to be nailing down third and fourth-quarter events now. Tech conference programming teams begin developing their themes, tracks, and agendas many months in advance, of course. Events open their speaking proposal submissions six to twelve months ahead of time, and sometimes they close submissions more than six months out. Even if a conference has an “always taking submissions” policy, it pays to get your topic and speaker proposals in as early as possible. Since earned speaking engagements at industry events are the more glamorous gigs for thought leaders, I’m featuring eight of the major technology conferences and events later this year. Get your speaker submissions ready!

8 top tech events for thought leadership

VentureBeat Transform, July 10-11, San Francisco

VentureBeat Transform focuses on “accelerating your business with AI” in 2019 and is a thought leadership event and great networking opportunity for C-suite executives. Although there is no set deadline, PR teams should submit their most experienced, highest level executive speakers very soon to have a chance to stand out among hundreds of proposals.

Fortune Brainstorm Tech, July 15-17, Aspen, Colorado

This annual invite-only “summer retreat for leaders of fortune 500 companies” provides high-level networking opportunities, so only established C-level thought leaders should apply. If your emerging tech company has a CEO with experience on stage, and who has clearly chosen a bold, trailblazing stance on industry issues in the media, Brainstorm Tech can be a great opportunity to take a company profile next-level.

Inbound 2019, September 3-6, Boston

Hubspot’s annual martech industry bash Inbound brings celebrity clout to its keynote stages in the form of eminent stars of sports (Alex Rodriguez), entertainment (Shonda Rhimes), and politics (Michelle Obama). But it also accepts earned speaking topic proposals for its breakout sessions, which still can attract hundreds of audience members to your talk. Deadline for submissions is February 22, so hurry!

DMEXCO, September 11-12, Cologne, Germany

An expo with a thousand exhibitors and a conference with 18 stages, it doesn’t get much bigger and flashier than the annual marketing, technology, creative and media industries behemoth. DMEXCO keeps its speaker submissions open year-round, but again, a quality abstract and speaker submission in February has a better chance than one in August.

Advertising Week NY, September 23-26, New York

AW takes over New York City each autumn as almost 100,000 marketers, advertisers, technology, and brand professionals descend on the big apple to check out over a thousand speakers in four days of networking. To grab a coveted spot on stage for the 16th New York Advertising Week, submit a speaker and/or an entire seminar topic idea via online portal by May 23.

Mobile World Congress LA, October 22-24, Los Angeles

PR teams should keep this year’s tagline of “intelligent connectivity” and its four themes in mind when submitting: 5G, IoT, Disruptive Innovation, and Immersive Content.  Like its big brother event Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona, MWC LA is a massive combination of expo and conference boasting over 20,000 attendees. Deadline is May 1.

ANA Masters of Marketing, October 2-5, Orlando

If you’re a martech or adtech solution provider or a big brand marketer, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) flagship annual conference Masters of Marketing is a great choice to gain visibility, network, and generate leads. But note that tech solution providers must bring a brand client co-speaker along to be considered for the agenda. Also, ANA recommend you submit at least 6-months in advance to have a chance at selection.

Web Summit, November 4-7, Lisbon, Portugal

From the same producers of Collision Conference in Toronto comes perhaps the most sprawling of the world’s tech events, which is covered by over 2,000 media each year. Web Summit is unique in its division into 24 separate tracks, or summits within the summit, ranging from “” for all things data to “SportsTrade” for the business of sports. Speaker submissions are open year-round, but, of course, get your proposals in early for a better chance at a plum earned stage opportunity.
Tech companies looking to establish an executive thought leader as subject matter expert should keep a rolling calendar of relevant industry conference targets, complete with submission policies and deadline dates. Getting ahead of the game is key, since event programmers seek to solidify their agendas months in advance, and they are deluged by hundreds of proposals. See our earlier post for PR tips for getting speaking engagements.

PR Tips For Successful Speaking on Panels

Public-speaking engagements are a strong component of a good B2B PR thought leadership plan. Industry discussion panels in particular can be very effective, whether part of a larger conference or trade show, or created as a customized event for prospects. The best industry panels are not only well attended, but promoted and covered by relevant media. They can also present valuable networking opportunities. Above all, a panel is an excellent way to develop original content around a hot-button industry issue. When live-streamed or taped for repurposing as short videos, they demonstrate expertise and expanding brand visibility well beyond the panel event.

Like every other public relations activity, panel speaking requires preparation. If you’ve ever attended a dull panel event where one person pontificated endlessly, or the moderator didn’t spread the wealth, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Here are some guidelines to help you shine in your next panel appearance.

How to be the star of your next panel

Arrive early

Arriving a few minutes early will save any anxiety about being late, and, in the case of smaller audiences, it can offer the opportunity to mingle with members of the audience and possibly other panelists. Audience knowledge is important for tailoring your comments within the group discussion, and for those who get nervous about speaking in front of a group, it’s a good tip for boosting confidence.

Don’t advertise your brand

Your name and affiliation on panel materials and your stellar participation in the group discussion should be enough. Most thought leadership panels are created with the tacit – or stated – understanding that they are not meant for commercial purposes. There’s no need to digress into an advertisement for your company or service (although a good introduction is essential, as outlined below.) Show your expertise with facts, short anecdotes, and insights. And while it’s fine to jump in and add to someone’s comment, no panel member should try to outshine others by talking over them.

But make sure you have a strong introduction

Don’t leave your introduction to chance; make sure the moderator or panel planner has an updated bio that captures your experience and accomplishments. Too often a PR person will simply google around for a biographical blurb, but it’s better to create or tweak an impressive bio for purposes of the industry panel. Also, it’s a good idea to bring an extra copy in case it falls through the cracks.

Present the best face of the company

Dress attractively, sit up straight, speak naturally, and listen to others as they speak. As actors are trained to do, panel participants should enunciate and project just a little bit more than normal, speaking clearly into the microphone. Make eye contact with the audience rather than only with the moderator or other panel members. Any mumbling, slumping, or other presentation foibles will detract from the insights offered. Going forward, the audience will think of the panelist’s face and voice when they think of your company. You want them to remember you as an engaging communicator and an expert resource on the topics at hand.

Above all, don’t be boring

Bring a spark. If you hold a minority or contrarian opinion about a specific issue, this is a great opportunity to share it. If you disagree, say so respectfully and briefly explain why. If you agree, don’t just say so. Be prepared to elaborate, offer an anecdote, or introduce a new issue. There’s nothing wrong with being entertaining on an industry panel. Have a cup of strong coffee and let your charisma elevate the energy of the event.

Get in the know

Do the requisite research on the personal and professional backgrounds of the panelists and the moderator. This will help you anticipate questions, answers, and other points of view – allowing you to prepare retorts ahead of the event. Know your audience. Calibrate the amount of techno-speak and jargon based on the sophistication of the attendees. Also, don’t forget to prepare an outline of answers from a list of potential questions. If your panelist is inexperienced or not a natural public speaker, your PR team may want to offer some spokesperson training ahead of the panel.

Shining on a panel at a conference can lead to other thought leadership opportunities for an executive spokesperson, like invitations to other panels, podcast guesting, byline contribution, and media placements. Most importantly, a young B2B tech brand can begin to cultivate real brand voice, credibility, and point of view, all of which establishes a solid reputation for competitive advantage. Along with keynote speaking or workshop participation, paneling is one of the best ways to make the most out of industry conferences and trade shows. See this earlier post for more on placing execs on panels and other speaking gigs.

8 PR Tools for B2B Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is part of public relations best practices, and it’s particularly powerful in B2B and technology categories. By shaping and serving up a unique perspective, expertise, or insight, a young company can gain a competitive advantage over larger and more established companies.

If you’re a company founder, you have expertise that others don’t. Chances are, you’ve come up with a solution to a problem that differentiates your company. Even more significant, you’re an innovator whose job it is to foster that same spirit of innovation at your business. You’re full of informed opinions, fresh ideas, and predictions about your industry. How do you leverage that thought capital?

The answer may be a strategic thought leadership plan. But remember that thought leadership is not directly about capturing new business. Before you begin, make sure you or your key executive has a novel point of view and is committed to joining — and staying — in the conversation.

Here are 8 tech PR tools for a B2B thought leadership plan

Stellar bylined content

Seeing your byline next to an article in VentureBeat or AdAge is a great feeling. It’s a sexy way to display a CEO’s unique insight and often a great way to tell a story. The PR team should be constantly generating ideas for articles to pitch to journalists. But be sure to adhere to best byline practices. Consider editorial policies and trending topics, and be strategic when targeting technology media outlets.

Seize the stage at conferences

A well-researched speakers’ bureau can vault a little-known company into the media (and influencer) spotlight and help turn an established company into a market leader. A CEO delivering a speech, sitting on a panel, or giving a “fireside chat” can elevate their stature as an industry player. Until the conferences start contacting you, your company will need a team member dedicated to submitting to strategically targeted annual conferences. For a PR guide to executive speaking gigs, go to our earlier post. Women entrepreneurs in particular are in demand.

Expert commentary

Tech and business media are uniquely receptive to interviews and commentary from executives who are subject-matter experts. An impressive resume, coupled with a track record of blogging or speaking on a given topic is often all it takes to launch a founder as an SME. At that point, he or she can be offered to key media for comment on relevant news of the day. Are there rumors of a merger in your category? Activate your CEO for a comment on what it might mean. A scandal like a privacy breach? Perhaps it’s a chance to confirm your own security protocol. Relevant legislation pending? Offer an analysis to the business broadcast press. Here’s more about how to build a resume as a subject-matter expert.

Reach out to analysts

Establishing relationships with influential industry analysts like Gartner and Aberdeen Group is a great way of establishing impressive expertise that can lead not only to inclusion in analyst reports, but in the top-tier media who read the reports. The reports can influence customers, investor interest, press coverage, and general reputation, and they typically have a long shelf-life. But an analyst program required meticulous thoroughness and preparation. See this earlier post on making the most of analyst relations.

Publish your manifesto

The founder should be contributing to the latest industry scholarship by penning insightful white papers, which offer the opportunity to take a well-differentiated point of view on a topic of interest. It’s okay, in fact, desirable, if the opinion is lightly controversial or even contrarian. Additionally, if the CEO has a truly unique insight and/or an inspiring origin story, then publishing a full-length business book can yield substantial B2B thought leadership content and visibility. Long-form written content can reinforce the executive’s expertise, thereby elevating the brand’s authority.

Blog early and often

We feel that in the ideal world, a business technology founder should be publishing a regular blog series on the company website and on LinkedIn, dedicated to offering a perspective in the form of entertaining, informative content. One or two weekly posts can demonstrate an executive’s broad insight and communicate a distinct brand voice. Additionally, the CEO could strive to guest post on trade industry blogs. See our earlier post for a deep dive into blogging best practices.

Be the host with the most

Your founders need not wait to be invited to participate in other people’s panels. Create and put on your business discussion panel about a hot-button topic on which your CEO has a specific insight. Invite other distinguished business leaders, experts, and tech journalists to either be on the panel, moderate, or attend as an audience member. Thought leader panels can yield a ton of useful content like white papers, videos, bylines, and blog posts. We do this routinely for our B2B clients, with great success, and we have lots of information about business panel best practices.

Be a pod(cast) person

Guesting on a technology or business podcast can be another interesting platform for your CEO to shine. For guests, podcasting typically requires less effort and preparation than television appearances, and the medium offers an intimacy that print media cannot match. Like other media, podcast shows exist in every conceivable niche. Whether your company specializes in API, blockchain, or AR, there’s a podcast that fits the bill. For some cool shows check out our PR guide to tech podcast gigs.

Tech PR Guide To Executive Podcast Gigs

Placing your CEO/founder as a guest on a tech podcast is a great tool for PR pros to establish the boss as a thought leader and thereby increase a young B2B company’s profile. Every company has a story, and that story can be a valuable public relations tool — and the best kind of free exposure. There’s a podcast for everything: from Meowster for cat lovers to The Survivalist Prepper Podcast, a show for doomsayers awaiting the collapse of civilization.

The opportunities are exciting. You don’t even have to be in the same city where the shows are recorded, because most do remote interviews. Some shows have one or two tech junkies chatting on a topic of interest each week, while others may feature a panel discussion. Most have blogs for further exposure. The best PR opportunity might be an appearance on a show that regularly interviews eminent experts, tech journalists, or company founders. And you don’t have to be named Bezos or Musk to guest on an episode.

Let’s take a look at six of the best tech podcasts on which your PR pro should book the CEO.

The a16z Podcast

Currently ranked #10 by iTunes, a16z is the highest ranked show of this group. Twice weekly episodes usually feature a panel of four or five CEOs, professors, business leaders, and engineers. They sometimes interview big-time corporate chiefs like Ted Sarandos of Netflix, but most often they chat with early-stage company founders. The discussions range widely from in-depth tech topics covering the business of tech to its cultural repercussions. A guest appearance is a great opportunity to boost a CEO’s profile. Episodes include How Tech is Changing Investing, Creating a Category: from Pricing to Positioning; and How to Live Longer and Better.

This Week in Enterprise Tech/This Week in Tech

One of the best tech podcasts: This Week in Tech
As it affectionately calls itself, TWIT’s This Week in Enterprise Tech boasts the highest production value of the list. TWIT complements the audio podcast with a sponsored, highly watchable video production. Airing weekly, the show is usually hosted by Robert Ballecer, a Silicon Valley native and Jesuit priest. A pair of off-site co-hosts usually assist, with one special guest weekly. The specificity of the subject narrows one’s audience to the exact right niche. A recent episode is called What’s happening with the AWS Cloud?. Other episodes include Why Enterprises Still Tip-Toe Around The Cloud and Next-Generation Ssds With Kingston. Its cousin program under the TWIT’s empire of shows is This Week in Tech,  ranks even higher at #21.

How I Built It

The software how-to show How I Built It, currently at #42, should not to be confused with NPR’s How I Built This. With high production value and big-name corporate sponsors, the show chronicles the fascinating origin stories of tech companies. Host Joe Casabona interviews founders and developers from tech companies like Pantheon, Sitelock, and Mode Effect. It’s a perfect platform for a CEO to develop a reputation as an industry expert. Episodes include Neill Feather & SiteLock, Patrick Rauland and Building a WooCommerce Shop and Nicole Kohler and Content Strategy.

O’Reilly Data Show Podcast

O’Reilly Data Show Podcast, with host data scientist Ben Lorica, explores the opportunities and techniques driving big data, data science, and AI. He interviews one guest per episode, usually founders, scientists, or engineers. While not the most dynamic of productions, it would be a good place for a founder/CEO of an AI or data startup to get some experience in guesting. Airing weekly, it features a recent episode, How to train and deploy deep learning at scale. Other episodes include Using machine learning to monitor and optimize chatbots and Machine learning at Spotify: You are what you stream.

Hack to Start

Hack to Start calls itself a “podcast focused on interesting people and the innovative ways they achieve success.” Each week or so, the two co-hosts interview a different founder/CEO on business-oriented topics. Though it’s a more entrepreneurship-focused program than some of the podcasts, most of the guests are from tech companies. A recent episode is an interview with Hannah Donovan, the founder/CEO of the startup Trash. Other episodes include former Kayak marketing manager Gessica Bicego and Jess Brown, director of UX at Vice Media.

This Week in Machine Learning & AI

This Week in Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence, or known by its pithy nickname TWIML & AI, was ranked #60 by Apple last week. Host Sam Charrington, founder of the industry research firm CloudPulse Strategies, talks AI news, and interviews expert CEOs, engineers, and researchers. For those founders of AI B2B companies, this is the perfect niche show to boost visibility. Airing three shows per week, a recent episode is Surveying the Connected Car Landscape with GK Senthil . Other episodes include Machine Learning Platforms at Uber with Mike Del Balso and Data Science for Poaching Prevention and Disease Treatment with Nyalleng Moorosi.

For B2B executives at all stages, guesting on the best tech podcasts can establish them as thought leaders, thereby increasing the company’s visibility, establishing credibility, and of course attracting new business.

{You may wonder how iTunes comes up with their rankings. It seems to be another of Apple’s well-kept mysteries. We do know that Apple updates the rankings continuously. They tend to fluctuate wildly. Daily rankings can be found at and at Podbay FM.}

A Journalist’s POV: Questions From A PR Team

iraapfel pr

Helping craft an executive’s opinions into a compelling story for publication is a gratifying part of public relations work. The best outcomes come from good relationships with discerning editors, such as Ira Apfel of the highly respected AFP (Association for Financial Professionals) publications, with whom we have had the pleasure of working. Read on for Ira’s insightful answers to our “questions from a PR team.”

What should go into a subject line that will make you open a query? Do you have any good/bad examples to share?  Unless you have a really catchy phrase (fear usually works), a good subject line should simply state what’s in the message. Exclude as much technical jargon as possible and all clichés. Just tell me what I’m about to read. Maybe I’ll read it, maybe I won’t. But if I do read the email and the topic does not live up to the subject line’s promise, or if it makes no sense, or if it is simply boring, then I am less likely to open your next email to me.
Current subject-line trend that I HATE: “Does it make sense to discuss this, Ira?” No, it doesn’t. Go away.

What do you look for in a byline submission and what should interested writers avoid? Avoid talking about your turnkey product solution. I have a theory that every product is a perfect solution to some customer out there. What really makes a difference is customer service, and that includes the vendor’s knowledge about the customer’s business and industry. So when I read byline submissions – and I read every one that comes in assuming I get past the subject line – I want to see if you understand my readers and their challenges and have advice for them. My readers have said in survey after survey that they don’t want a product pitch; they want insights. Here’s the good news: It’s not uncommon for vendors or consultants to write articles for my publication and then be contacted by my readers looking for expert advice – not a perfect turnkey solution.

What are some dos and don’ts for “pitching” you a story for one of your pubs? Take five minutes to poke around my organization’s website to understand what we do and better hone your pitch. Every day I receive email pitches about personal financial planning articles. Problem is, my readers do business financial planning – budgeting and forecasting for companies. So a pitch like this will not only be deleted immediately, it will lower my perception of you and make me less likely to open your next email. If you do believe your pitch is a good one for my readers, tell me so. When I read submissions I always ask, “Why should my readers care? What’s new or different in this article that they’ll want to know?” If your pitch doesn’t answer those basic questions, you need to start over.

“Why should my readers care” – that should always be the first question asked and answered in any media relations outreach.