Dave Pelland Writing and Editing
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Insights on Content Production and Marketing

Timing Your Conference Thought Leadership

It's common for services firms to launch thought leadership initiatives at industry conferences and, on the surface, that idea makes sense. Your clients and prospects, the industry press, regulators and other people you’re targeting or engaging with are in the same hotel (or at least the same city), so releasing thought leadership at the event can be a good way to attract attention.

But the traditional benefits of thought leadership -- building or enhancing relationships by providing a reason for your professions to reach out, along with highlighting your insights and expertise -- can be diluted if you release that content during a busy industry conference.

Just as you’re targeting your audience and the media during the event, so are your industry peers. You’re going to face a lot of competition for conference attendees’ attention as they are hit with a deluge of thought leadership, meetings, hallway conversations and social events on top of the conference program itself.

Instead, it's more effective to design the production schedule so your content is ready to release about 10 days to two weeks before a conference launches. That’s still close enough to the conference that you can leverage your content during the event, but it allows your prospects and clients, as well as key reporters, to access the content before they’re slammed with conference activities.

Ideally, your content should launch the week before the week before a key conference. Most attendees are busy the week before an event clearing the decks before they travel, so targeting the week before then allows you to get their attention and set the tone for your conversations at the conference.

If you’re releasing a whitepaper via PDF, for instance, your audience will have time to read it before they leave or while they’re traveling. Your professionals will have deeper conversations about your content and insights than if you hand them a paper during the event, and your content will be in the marketplace while your competitors are scrambling to have their publication ready for the event.

You’ll also gain more time to produce related content, such as videos, podcast interviews and social media posts -- to extend your message’s shelf life during and after the conference.

Releasing your thought leadership before an industry event allows you to gain the benefits of capturing your audience’s attention and participating in the conference’s conversations while reducing the risk of your insights being lost in a swarm of competing content.