We all know that one dreaded client request… “Can you attend our annual user conference?” While the idea of schmoozing with not only your client but also their customers and partners for several days sounds daunting, it is also the best asset you could ask for. Not only does it allow you to hear your client’s messaging firsthand, it gives you front-row access to their customer success stories – an invaluable asset in the world of PR. To help make the most of a user conference, follow these three tips below.
- Create a schedule beforehand. While you may be tempted to wing it, it’s vital to plan the sessions you’d like to attend ahead of time. Ask your client which sessions they think would be most valuable for you to attend and make sure you’re choosing a variety of topics. Most importantly, take a close look at who the presenters are. Sessions from customers are gold, as they often discuss the challenges they were facing with regard to X issue and how your client helped them solve it. Sessions featuring industry influencers are also valuable, as they can provide new insights into current challenges and trends in the industry and how people are talking about them. A how-to session on becoming a super user of X product – probably not worth your time.
- Attend those networking sessions. Networking can be exhausting – but the hardest part is often just convincing yourself to go. After sitting through several hours of presentations, it can be tempting to skip the open networking breakfasts or before dinner drinks, but the truth is, these candid conversations are often where you’ll find the most value. Introduce yourself to a customer or partner and explain that you’re looking for some insights into how they are using/benefiting from X product. Chances are, if they’re satisfied with your client’s product and services, they’ll be more than happy to talk to you.
- Don’t forget about your teammates back home. It’s easy to assume you’ll remember everything you heard at a conference, but we all know that’s near impossible. Think about the best way to translate everything you hear to your teammates back home. Take notes on themes and quotes you hear, or record sessions on your phone so your teammates can experience it firsthand. Distill these down to pitch angles you can go out with. And of course, give your team a solid debrief when you’re back.
Attending a user conference might seem unnerving, but as you can see, it’s a blessing in disguise. Not only do you get facetime with your client, but you get to interact with their clients firsthand. Follow these tips to make your next conference a success.
So next time you see that request in your inbox, breathe easy! You’ve got this.