Interview with Rostislav Stary, PR.Konektor
Eurocom Worldwide's member PR.Konektor is one of the leading communications agencies in the Czech and Slovak Republics serving an impressive portfolio of global clients and holding a number of prestigious PR awards, such as Czech PR Awards, SABRE Awards, and European Excellence Awards.
Eurocom Worldwide: Rosta, your teams at PR.Konektor, Konektor Social, and Hive organized and hosted a PR conference in Prague this year. What was your motivation for such a major investment in finances and manpower?
Rostislav Stary: For a couple of years we were partner of a major PR event, PR Summit, in the Czech Republic, and later on we supported Brand Management Forum, which raised our reputation significantly. But after years of being only 'one of the partners' we thought we know now how to host a successful conference and we wanted to do it according to our own vision and get more out of it than mere partners can. And on top of that, this year's PR Summit was postponed until January 2018, so we took the opportunity and organized our own PR conference at the same time as PR Summit would have taken place.
Eurocom Worldwide: The title of your PR conference was "Earned Media". Why did you choose this theme?
Rostislav Stary: Because this topic is relevant for all our own agencies and because we fully believe that earned media are still the most important target groups in integrated communication campaigns. Paid media depend mostly on investments; owned media is a long-term project and you need to build up your audience first. Shared media are interesting for community management but earned media can give you the broadest attention and that depends less on your investments but mainly on your creative content and ideas. If you are able to earn attention instead of buying it you have hit the mark.
Eurocom Worldwide: Could you please summarize for us the agenda and the type of speakers you invited?
Rostislav Stary: The claim of our conference was "Do you deserve attention?". With other words: You can buy space but you cannot buy attention. We intended to cover media relations as a traditional PR discipline as well as content marketing, influencer marketing and social media.
Therefore, we had a PR professional as a keynote speaker – and I have to thank Jennifer Janson from Six Degrees in the UK again because she was brilliant - as well as journalists, a blogger of the year, brand managers etc.
Eurocom Worldwide: How did you promote this conference and was it announced as a public event that anyone could visit? Did you charge any participation fee?
Rostislav Stary: We have a database of clients, ex-clients, partners etc., which we used and we marketed the event through social media as well. The event was open to anyone - though we targeted mainly in-house marketers. The price for this one-day event was around 190 Euro.
Eurocom Worldwide: How strong have you positioned your own agencies, PR.Konektor, Konektor Social, and Hive, as hosts of this event?
Rostislav Stary: We did not want to participate at the conference programme itself. The only exception was a panel discussion that was lead by me. But it was a branded conference, our logos were very visible in the conference room, we did a follow-up mailing and we had a media partner. So I am pretty sure everyone knew whose job it was :-). We distributed a feedback sheet so we know people were happy with the programme and the whole event, and we believe it helps us more to be associated with a successful event than to present our agencies via case studies or other corporate materials.
Eurocom Worldwide: In what kind of location did the conference take place?
Rostislav Stary: We found a theatre with a capacity of 200 people which has an ingenious atmosphere and was quite unusual compared to other similar events. I think it was a great choice and it paid off.
Eurocom Worldwide: How many participants actually came to the conference? And from which types of companies (clients, prospects, partners, media, etc.)?
Rostislav Stary: We had close to 200 participants, mostly in-house communications professionals. And we let our own staff participate as well because we believe it is important not to position ourselves only externally but show our competence and style to our employees as well.
Eurocom Worldwide: Would you say that this conference already paid off? Or do you see it more as a long-term investment in clients and prospects?
Rostislav Stary: It definitely paid off. We had to invest some real money in renting the place, catering, speakers, etc., but we got this money back thanks to the participation fee. And we had to invest a lot of effort and internal manpower sources but it also paid off with regards to the internal team feeling as well as for leads and prospects which soon derived from the event. And in the long run we know these activities are helping us to raise our agencies' reputation and to be perceived as innovative, creative, and different.
Eurocom Worldwide: Is this the first year that you have organized such a major corporate event and are you planning to host this kind of conference every year from now on?
Rostislav Stary: I hope this year will be the start of something big and we would like to repeat the Earned Media conference every year. And I think to organize it next year will be much easier - we have a database of participants who were inspired this year and who left the conference happy, we learned a lot about the organization of such an event and we experienced that it pays off.
Eurocom Worldwide: One last question: Would you recommend this type of event to other PR agencies in other countries or do you think that Prague is a unique location for such an event?
Rostislav Stary: We have invested a lot of money and energy into our corporate PR activities for years now and we are absolutely sure it pays off. We treat PR activities for our agencies in the same way as we do it for clients: We nurture media relations actively, we manage our social media channels and we do regular workshops for (potential) clients, so the conference is only one piece of the whole mosaic. And moreover, we did it after years of other activities so I think it was something that happened "organically" and people were not surprised about it. There is definitely no simple recommendation valid for everyone, but I am convinced that our agency is a brand and it deserves to be treated as a brand. And I think this approach could be followed anywhere in the world.
Eurocom Worldwide: Rosta, thank you very much for these interesting insights!
If you want to learn more about organizing a PR Conference please get in touch with Rostislav Stary: firstname.lastname@example.org