The economics of a conference are astounding – create something extraordinary, and people will pay anything to be there. TED costs $7500 to attend, and they have a waiting list of thousands.
Advertising consultant Cindy Gallop, as quoted in Digiday’s Can Conferences Save The Media Industry?
“Saying the conference industry has exploded is not an exaggeration,” David Adler, founder of BizBash said. “The industry has increased tenfold in the past few years. Twenty percent of marketing budgets in general are face-to-face events.”
The most successful include the likes of the relatively new, small and blue chip events All Things D, TED and the Founders Conference. All three are held up by people involved in conference industry as the way to do a perfect event: invite only exclusive, interesting and innovative people.
But not every conference can become TED. In fact, there may even be too many conferences. Every magazine, newspaper (with a few notable exceptions) and website seems to want to throw an event. Some do it well, while others flail miserably in a sad attempt to mimic their more successful counterparts.
This isn’t strictly journalism-related, but any tips on how to get sponsored to go to academic conferences? I thought to ask here since I’m hoping to volunteer to blog and do outreach to US institutions in exchange for help with travel expenses (it’s abroad but discussing issues pertinent to the US and students especially). Any other recommendations for what to do to get there or organizations that might be helpful? Again, I know this isn’t perfectly FJP-related, but thanks for reading! — Anonymous
I’m not good at this but my brother is and his solution is simply this: ask.
As in, there’s no harm in asking for what you want. The worst that can happen is someone says no.
The idea actually works well for pretty much anything. Ask, follow up, be respectfully persistent, let it drop if you don’t get the response you’re looking for. As said, I’m not good at it, my brother get’s frustrated at my inability to do this, and I’m perpetually amazed by the things he goes off and does because he simply asked.
In your case, who knows, maybe you’ll be surprised.
So, literally just get in touch with the organization that’s putting on the event, and get in touch with any other organizations that are remotely associated with it. And then tell them what you’ll do.
How do you figure out who’s involved? Go to the Web site and look at the event sponsors. If none of them work out, think of other organizations or brands or companies that somehow fit in the general spot you’re talking about.
If you get a bite, outline your skills and tell them what you can do for them. For example, I can write, rock the social web, film, create interesting illustrations. Whatever it is, tell them. And then do it.
Who knows, beyond supplementing travel expenses, they might pay you to actually do things. And if we’re talking payment here, or a desire to be paid, see this post from earlier today. It’s important.
Note that all this will probably fall under some sort of “Content Marketing” umbrella and they’ll ask you to do X, Y or Z.
And I ask you to understand that because that’s generally the quid pro quo being played here and you have to be comfortable playing it before getting involved with it.
Some people are, some aren’t. But you need to know. — Michael