5 Ways to Generate Buzz at a Conference Without a Booth

By Janelle KozyraNovember 25, 2014

Many companies are warming up their 2015 event planning to determine which conferences to get involved in and what the extent of their presence will be—exhibitor, sponsor, speaker, attendee or a mix of the above. From PR and sales perspectives, many companies believe they need a booth to properly engage with customers, prospects, media and industry influencers. But budget doesn’t always permit companies to exhibit at every conference on their list.

There are ways to get around the budget issue and still connect with valuable contacts, generate buzz, build thought leadership and drive demand generation with just an attendee ticket. Here are some ideas that use content marketing as the cornerstone of this effort.

1. Pull out the reporter’s notebook.

Bring a smartphone (or handheld video camera if you have one) and digital recorder to cover the event like a reporter. Do ambush interviews with attendees, speakers—even other reporters (“flip the mic around”). Work with your PR team to schedule interviews with people you know you’d like to meet ahead of time. Publish the interviews and your thoughts on the happenings on your blog. Re-purpose your insights across other publishing platforms, such as LinkedIn, Google+ and any columns you write on media sites.

2. Keep it organic.

You don’t have to put much production into the videos or podcasts. The content is timely so it should be dripped out over the several days to a week following the event (depending on how much coverage you get). And it should be dripped out; don’t post it all at once. Keep readers coming back for more.

3. Stay in touch with everyone you interview.

Let them know when their interview is up. Encourage them to share their interview on their social media or write about it on their own blog or site with a backlink. Many people are happy to do this (ego bait) and it pulls targeted eyeballs to your blog or other platforms where the content lives.

4. Build momentum in advance.

There’s an opportunity for your PR team to tell target media about the forthcoming coverage, who can find it to be a helpful resource in their own stories about the event or future stories they write. On this note, interest the conference in including a mention of the content in their email newsletter. Tease the upcoming content on your relevant digital channels, as well as those of your company and colleagues.

5. Re-purpose coverage through your content funnel.

If you gather a lot of advice-oriented information, develop a downloadable e-book. Create the Reader’s Digest version as a SlideShare and/or infographic. Promote one- or two-line insights in your email newsletter and on social handles with links back to the longer content assets.

All of this content generation and networking, just as an attendee. With the ticket savings, consider bringing a colleague to tag team with you. Done well, you’ll have a least 90 days of valuable short- and long-form content to fill your thought leadership and marketing stacks.