As the song goes, “back to life, back to reality”.  August 2011 has been an eventful month and (social upheaval aside) repeated a long-time trend. For those working in PR and communications, August is rarely ever slow; more often than not, in our profession, August is often breathtakingly frantic. This is due to a number of factors: picking up the slack for colleagues on holiday; end of fiscal year planning cycles; pockets of unused budget being assigned to last-minute projects;  and proposals (that you submitted in the spring) finally getting sign-off for immediate implementation.

This is obviously a good thing for business, but the challenge for all communicators, whether you’re in-house or agency, is giving yourself enough thinking space to plan ahead for even busier periods. Because what’s ahead is autumn/winter, and if you work in the b2b or technology PR world, September marks the beginning of conference silly season.

For one client alone, Firefly is assisting with content for the Intel Developer Forum, IFA, Salon de la Photo and SMAU shows – a real, international event smorgasbord if there ever was one, with the events taking place in San Francisco, Berlin, Paris and Milan, respectively. And this is in addition to the big daddy of consumer technology events, CES, which rears its all-singing, all-dancing head in Vegas come January 2011.

It’s a given that content planning for major conferences should kick off months before opening day. But the need for smart planning even earlier in the process (e.g. six months of more) is becoming more critical because of dwindling attendance numbers coupled with a real need to prove event ROI. Furthermore, new UK bribery laws should get more PR teams thinking about whether old ways of drumming up journalist interest in their company’s products/services – including certain types of entertainment, freebies, etc. – are now outdated or even illegal.

Here are a few our quick tips for surviving conference silly season:

Before the event

At the event

 When it comes to conferences, planning is paramount. So get your whiteboard, dry-erase markers and excel spreadsheets fired up: it’s going to be a bumper-crop autumn.

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