Why Content for Events Is All About Curation

Why Content for Events Is All About Curation

Emma Pearce (Head of Event Content, Global Portfolio at SaaStock) joins the Content Experience Show to discuss organizing content for events.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Curating Content for Events

Regardless of what industry, hobby, or community you belong to, attending conferences and events with like-minded peers can be an incredibly rewarding and fun occasion. If it’s your job to pull together content for events, however, they can also be incredibly stressful occasions.

Someone who has a lot of experience managing content for events is Emma Pearce, Head of Event Content for SaaStock. Her biggest piece of advice to anyone else with this position is to remember that you are not responsible for being a creator—you’re the curator!

The weight of being an expert in the various subjects and fields represented at your event does not lie on your shoulders. By keeping this in mind, you can avoid unnecessary stress and focus your energy on pulling together the best speakers and the best content possible for your next event.

In This Episode

  • Why event content is uniquely different from content marketing.
  • Why being the head of content for events is not the same as being a content creator.
  • How to balance known experts with up-and-comers when putting together content for events.
  • How to get more out of the content once the event is over.

Quotes From This Episode

In putting together events, you’re not the content creator. You’re the content curator. Click To Tweet

“It is so important that our speakers create fresh content for our event. We don’t accept content that’s been published anywhere else.” — @emmarpearce


Content Experience Lightning Round

Who is the one person you would be most excited to hang out with backstage?

Emma has already gotten the chance to hang out backstage with that person! His name is Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational, and he spoke at an event called Money 20/20 that she used to run.

See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

Anna Hrach: Hey everybody, welcome to the Content Experiential Podcast. My name is Anna Hrach, from Convince & Convert, and I am here with the always amazing Randy Frisch from Uberflip. We have a fantastic guest on today, and I know we say that a lot. But this one is a little bit different. Now, all of you out there go to conferences or you've attended conferences in the past, and there's always this sort of magical thing that happens where you go and you attend this perfectly polished event with these amazing speakers with wonderful lineups. But what we actually got to do today is talk to the person who is in charge of putting those lineups together. It is Emma Pearce, head of event content for Saastock. And she had some great tips and tricks. It's a little bit different today, but it really gave a lot of really great perspective into how all this amazing content comes together on this massive day. I don't know, Randy, especially coming from CONEX and putting that together with your team, with Convince & Convert as part of that as well, it was really eye-opening. Randy Frisch: Yeah, I mean Emma was amazing, and we gotta give her credit 'cause I think that she was a little nervous going into this podcast as to is she the right type of guest- [crosstalk 00:01:12] Anna Hrach: She didn't really know why we wanted to talk to her. We're like no, no, no, we wanna talk to you. Randy Frisch: But Anna, this is why you and I are visionaries. We had this idea that when we go to events, we ignore the fact that it is all content. And it is an opportunity for us to leverage that content year-round. One of the campaigns that we do here, with all the content, is we run this thing called Remix Your Content. So we take all the talks from our CONEX event that happens in the summer, and we create ... they're like two minute trailers that are kinda cool and edgy of each speaker who was onstage. And we release them throughout the year. So we'll do a dozen of them, but it's feeding our content calendar through the year. And I think that's what a lot of us kind of lose track of when we're debating should we run an event? We're running an event, and we're not seeing ROI from the event. It's like we need to see our ROI all year round. Anna Hrach: No, absolutely. Jay talks about this a lot where an event isn't just one day. An event should really be a 365-day event if you're doing it right. Emma proved that perfectly. They're running so many events right now, I don't even know how she keeps it together. But they're literally in constant planning mode and constantly putting those pieces together and constantly creating that content for those conferences. Even the day of, she has a great story about rearranging the pieces and doing that puzzle while the edges are constantly moving. It's nuts how much goes into it. Randy Frisch: I feel like we could have done a whole second podcast on how she balances the number of events she's executing, but you'll get a vibe from that as you listen to this. Let's roll this latest week's episode right now. Hey Emma, thank you so much for agreeing to do this podcast. I know when we first reached out to you, you were like I don't really create content, don't you want to talk to our content marketer? And I was like no, I wanna talk to you and I wanna hear about how you put together killer lineups for Saastock. So to help everyone, first of all, understand what is a head of event content and second of all, what is Saastock. Emma Pearce: Sure, well thank you guys so much for having me today. Now you're right, I sort of got a bit confused between content marketing and event content. I think that's good to clarify what is a head of event content, because I often get confused with the content marketer, so for me to confuse myself with one is a new high point in my career. Randy Frisch: You're like do you really wanna talk to me? I'm like no I really wanna talk to you. Emma Pearce: Yeah, absolutely. So what is event content? For sure, so essentially we are a kind of hybrid between research, strategy, copywriting and, what we like to call in the industry, speaker acquisitions. So kind of when we think about content, I often make the argument that the role of content is kind of the voice of the industry. So what we do is kind of conduct extensive market research to really get under the skin of issues that matter to our delegates and translate these to actionable learning, fun formats and of course the insightful agendas. What we do at Saastock is bring the best and brightest speakers from across the global SaaS ecosystem and work with them to deliver their expertise in a way that translates to the stage and ensures that our delegates leave amazed but also equipped with the kind of knowledge that helps them meet their objectives. Randy Frisch: So I love that line that you started with which is voice of the industry. It kind of just stuck with me through that whole concept, and I think that's a really interesting way to think about content, think about when you bring a speaker or a guest post you can extend this to if you're listening to this podcast and try to figure out, I don't run an event, how is this applicable to me?  It's how do we bring different perspectives that can kinda capture the industry, and I'm wondering how you do that, Emma. Saastock as you said, it's the best of SaaS, but there are SaaS platforms for marketing which we all know as marketers. But there's also SaaS platforms for billing, there's SaaS for customer success there's SaaS platforms for just communication. How do you bring people together in a way with topics that cover everyone's interest in such a broad topic? Emma Pearce: Yeah, absolutely. A really good question. And yeah, I think SaaS is the ones that you look at it and you could think that there's so much divergence in the types of companies. But I think the key is if you think about the people in the organizations, if you're sort of operating a ... you can be quite platform or industry vertical, agnostic, yet you can still be struggling with the same issues. For us, as a content department, we research with literally hundreds of SaaS practitioners right from the unicorn CEOs right down to the marketing execs and the founders, two guys in a coffee shop still looking for seed funding. The interesting thing about content research and insight is to try and draw those commonalities, to pull out the common challenges, opportunities of pain points and points, I suppose, of growth and of love and bring those together in a cohesive way for the stage. What we're doing this year at Saastock is a little bit different to last year. It's actually where we're gonna launch ten key industry themes that have come out of those months and months of research that we undertake and those kind of themes of the ones that we see sort of resonate across people's AR. So you might be billing a hundred mil, you might be billing, gosh, sort of zero, and you still have challenges of things to do with product market fit, sales, I mean, there's loads and loads of different commonalities, if that's not too confusing that we sort of draw together through voice of the industry. You know we get on You know we get on the phone to people, figure out what make them tick, what keeps them up at night and then draw those parallels and translate that into insight of the agenda and also who you wanna hear from to help you wrestle those challenges or uncover those opportunities. Anna Hrach: Nice. So do you get that voice of the industry going and you wrangle exactly what people wanna hear.  Where do you even start? Because there is so much content around events. There's everything from, you already mentioned, from the speaker lineups all the way to pre-event content to even when people are there, there's an event happening or there's content happening at the event, in post-event. How do you even start to wrangle how to shape all of this in the lineups and the content around everything? How does that even start to take form? Emma Pearce: It's an art form, I think. It's definitely something you kind of ... when you first start out in the job, I think for me when I first started on the job, I was like what do you even do? There's so much, how can you possibly get your head around it?  It's sort of a learned intuition, I think. The more and more you engage with the ecosystem, understand okay look, I'm seeing key themes, challenges, et cetera come together. The more you get a sense of all right, so these are the kind of top issues that we need to flag. Let's say it's day one, main stage, 4,000 people in the audience speech to other things where you can go, look actually, will a 20 minute stand-up presentation be the correct format for this or do we wanna do a master class onsite? We have our SaaS.City workshop the day before. Or is it something better served by actually getting a blog post or we know we do our podcast as well, our SaaS Revolutionary podcast headed by our CEO Alex Theuma. I'd love to be able to give you a really easy answer for this, but I think there isn't one, and there is a lot of learned intuition. But really it's about being able to make that judgment call based on what the market is telling you. And that's a really important thing that a lot of content people, certainly in events, sometimes miss is that you're not the content creator. You're the content curator, and I think that's a really important distinction. I'm not there to be the foremost expert in SaaS. When you're working content, you get pretty expert pretty fast, 'cause you're speaking to amazing people who are at the top of their game. But your role is to curate that and to put that into a format that's gonna work for your delegates, not to be the industry expert. The industry that you're an expert in is how to create amazing content for events. Anna Hrach: That's awesome. From honestly just listening to you talk, it sounds like to me ... I kept picturing this jigsaw puzzle with constantly moving edges, where you're constantly trying to put something together, make this complete picture but the pieces keep changing. But I love what you just said about being the content curator and bringing the best to an industry. I think that's really powerful, and I hadn't actually thought about it before but that makes perfect sense. Emma Pearce: Yeah, you're so right with the jigsaw puzzle as well. The pieces change sometimes even on the day, so you've got to be a master puzzler to ... you gotta be prepared. Randy Frisch: That's the worst. So we do, Emma I think you know that Convince & Convert and Uberflip kind of partnered together, and we do an event experience called CONEX which happens in the summer in Toronto. And this past year. We had extreme drama where our keynote ... we're all keynote pretty much, but our final keynote speaker contacted us that morning and said I'm not gonna make it. And he was like the guy who tied in the theme and everything, and it was legit but the drama going on to backfill that anchor spot is something that ... it feels like the world's about to explore, right? Emma Pearce: Oh yeah, I've been there. I've had once somebody who's private jet was stuck in Paris and was supposed to be on the main stage at one of my content events. And it was me, three phones, my laptop, me speaking to PR people going can you move your speaker up here? Can you please come to the speaker lounge? Calling the moderator going we're changing all the times. Calling the guys who are backstage going can you update all the signage and send push notifications in the app like it's a whirlwind. Randy Frisch: Meanwhile, you're probably swearing to the guy being like get on a fucking commercial flight. Emma Pearce: Well you know you're thinking it maybe, but you've gotta- Randy Frisch: That's fair [crosstalk 00:12:31]. Emma Pearce: Some of these private jetters [crosstalk 00:12:32] could give you a ride back on their private jet, you never know. Gotta be nice, eh? Randy Frisch: It's true. All right, I wanna get more stories. I wanna hit you with a couple more challenges, but we're gonna take a short break here on the podcast, hear from some of our sponsors and then we'll be right back with Emma to talk about how we leverage all this content from events. Jay Baer: Hi friends. This is Jay Bear from Convince & Convert, reminding you that this show, the CONEX show podcast, is brought to you by Uberflip, the number one content experience platform. Do you ever wonder how content experience affects your marketing results? Well you can find out in the first ever content experience report where Uberflip uncovers eight data science-backed insights to boost your content engagement and your conversions. It's a killer report, and you do not want to miss it. Get your free copy right now at Uberflip.com/conexshowreport. That's Uberflip.com/conexshowreport. And this show is also brought to you but our time at Convince & Convert Consulting. If you've got a terrific content marketing program, but you wanna take it to the very next level, we can help. Convince & Convert works with the world's most iconic brands to increase the effectiveness of their content marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing and word of mouth marketing. Find us at Convinceandconvert.com. Anna Hrach: Hey everyone, Anna here. I have another free report that you are going to love. Find out how you can boost your Instagram likes, views and visitors in 2019 with Convince & Convert's brand new research on Instagram for tourism marketing. And it's not just for tourism marketers. Everybody is going to love this. There's great examples, there's amazing data. So get your free copy now at bit.ly/instagramfortours. Again that's bit.ly/instagramfortours. Randy Frisch: All right Emma, so I've got more of a personal question that I need to ask 'cause I'm trying to figure out the lineup of the event that I talked about coming up this summer. And one of the things that I struggle with sometimes is our event has grown and I know SaaStock has grown with a following. We're able to get amazing speakers now. But sometimes we get feedback from our audience saying I want some of the up and comers too. I want some of the people who I've never heard of but are gonna come on the stage and just kinda knock it out of the park and I didn't expect it. How do you balance, on your end, pulling in these amazing names that people fly out to see and injecting those surprises? Emma Pearce: Yeah, a really good question.  There's so many different ways I think you can do that, but maybe it's best for me just to talk about what we're doing at SaaStock to accommodate, like you said, some of the up and comers, the ones that you need to know before you know that you need to know. And the way we are structuring that at SaaStock and you know there is no one rope there to do it, but I'm just gonna talk you through what we're doing. We split our stages. So we have four states, five if you count our SaaStock competition stage as well, so I should give that a shout out, because my SaaStock program manager would be very upset with me if I didn't. But we have four separate stages at SaaStock, and we sort of split these by the recurring revenue of the company. So at SaaStock, our mission statement is to help companies gain traction, grow and scale their companies. And as you can probably imagine, those are the names of our stages. So when you're thinking about the traction element of it, which like I said, it's a little bit more those two guys in a coffee shop, bidding under a mil in AOR, those up and comers. The ones who either have got some really cool investors that are really interesting, have a great story or you can just ... like I said, it's intuitive as well. You gotta sense that you speak to these people, and you are gonna be the next revolute. Some of that we curate some of that on that stage because that's the one where we can ... more signposts that we're gonna give that platform to the up and comers. Because when you think about structuring for delegates, we wanna be able to signposts like right, I'm here. I'm the product manager of a ten mil ARR suss company. There are specific objectives I need to achieve with this event, so there's specific content objectives I wanna achieve. I need to know, well I'm planning my day. If I'm really organized, I'm planning my day a week, two weeks in advance of the event, so you wanna be able to go right, okay, Monday morning, I need to see these two hours of content. Tuesday afternoon, I need to have investor meetings. Wednesday, I need to be really drunk at all the parties. That kind of signposting for us of going like okay, actually here's some of our more unconventional either formats or companies. It works, it works well just to sort of manage expectations, I suppose. But then in terms of thinking about well, how do get speakers who are gonna be surprising on other stages? So they might not necessarily be the companies ... you may have heard of the companies, but you might go okay, you know what, we're not gonna get the CEO of company X. We're actually gonna go a level down and get the VP of sales, VP of marketing. And those are the sort of people that can come into either a panel or take a presentation or moderate something or do something different and exciting, that you've heard of the company but maybe you've not heard of the person. But once you as the content curator kind of speak to that person on the phone, you kinda get feedback from your community of this is the one, right? They don't speak at many events but when you hear them, they floor you. Those are the guys that you wanna pepper into your larger lineup stages, because that way you can still surprise and delight your customer but without it necessarily being, I'm gonna throw a two man coffee shop under one mil AOR speaker up with the CTO of Slack. That's not gonna work. But there's lots of different ways you can approach it and that's just some of my thoughts on what we're doing. Anna Hrach: Nice. It sounds like a lot of balance, a lot of, like you mentioned, peppering in and that balance. Again that balance. I think we were chitchatting about it on the break, but there's so much that goes into it. It shocks me every time that when you see this beautiful, final polished conference or this event that you just don't realize how much goes into it. Exactly again, going back to the moving jigsaw puzzle where you're constantly trying to fit those pieces in perfectly as those pieces are changing to the day. It's just insane. The other thing that I'd love to chat to you about is okay, there's the event, and that's what everybody comes for. It's sort of the grand presentation, but there's so much more content that happens besides just that one day. And of course on your end too, there's post-engagement, there's pre-engagement. I mean, there's this whole continuum where people just focus on that one day. How do you take all of this amazing content that you've spent the entire year curating and putting into this perfect lineup and then getting more out of it? Because there has to be more to just that one day, right? Emma Pearce: Yeah. Absolutely. I think you're quite right. There's so, so much so fast. Like SaaStock 2018, we launched our ... we film everything, record everything, not just for posterity but of course for information and commercial usage. And we launched our SaaStock on demand platform, which is our live platform. We think about it like a Facebook live streaming, where you can log in on the back end, and you couldn't make the event but you can still buy a pass to watch the content. So we had people speaking who were like my mum really wants to watch me speak. Can she please get a pass to the live stream? Randy Frisch: That's amazing. [crosstalk 00:20:41] Just because my grandma came to one of our event 'cause she wanted to hear me speak, so- Emma Pearce: That's cute. Randy Frisch: These are important things. Emma Pearce: These are important ... your grandma needs to see you in your element [crosstalk 00:20:53] absolutely. Randy Frisch: She was probably the smartest one in the audience [crosstalk 00:20:57] Emma Pearce: No, yeah, we've had people's father-in-law and stuff turn up to events. It's super nice. My mum and dad have yet to come and watch me speak at an event, so if you're out there, Mum and Dad, and you're listening to this, you're doing a terrible job. But no, what was I saying? So yeah, we have that platform. You can do that on demand, but you also get post-event access to it. If you spoke at the event or I believe if you attended the event, you can access that for the rest of the year. So you've got oh gosh, I loved the speech by Cal Henderson from Slack. Really interesting insights in there, but you know what I've lost my notepad or dropped my phone in water. Well you can watch it again. You can capture that presentation, get those slides and have that as a repository. So that's for the delegates and the people that want to attend. I think we were talking about this before of there's always a fine art in terms of the slide distribution. What we love our speakers to do that's so important is they create fresh content for our event. We don't accept content that's been published anywhere else. We don't accept content that you can just see on somebody's website. We really work with our speakers to make sure what they're doing is tailor-made for SaaStock. But in that sense, sometimes, you have people with their IP where they're happy to present slides with data points or whatever at an event. But in terms of that slide distribution, they need a bit of cool off time or whatever that might look like to be able to revise their deck, make sure they take out any sensitive information, as there's always that kind of tightrope walk between the immediacy of wanting to be able to go oh you've just watched Emma's presentation on curating content on events, but you wanna be able to give that person my presentation straight away. But I might be there well, actually look I need to change two or three slides. There's always that difficulty in terms of capturing the onsite information and making it readily available to use post-event. And then this is where I guess kind of fits in more with what we were talking about before, my content marketers. So the head of content marketing will also use all of those data points, those commonalities, everything we were talking about before to curate things like post-event very targeted, segmented post-event communications just for knowledge and knowledge paths. We wanna be able to go okay, here's five key insights from SaaStock that we captured. We also have ... our community is so engaged that everybody post-event is on Linkedin, on Twitter, et cetera, posting all of their ... what they loved about SaaStock, what they found out, who they enjoyed hearing from. So one of the great things about being an event organizer is that once you get a foothold in the community and they love you, they wanna do that, because all of the information that you've curated has helped them. And they want to share that with their networks, so it's almost a never-ending not quite Chinese whispers but you know what I mean, that never-ending, that rolling ball of people coming up with new things that they learned at the event. And that feeds through certainly for the few months after the event, but you still see things ... I still see things now coming up where people are saying oh yeah, that presentation I saw at SaaStock or those people I met or that meeting I had or that party I went to. It kind of is a virtual circle, I think is the word I was looking for, of content that's community driven and driven by us. Randy Frisch: Yeah, I think that's a great point. Putting together these events as you would know and anyone listening who's gone to these imagined ... it takes a full year to execute one day, and as a result, we meant it to continue for that year to come. At Uberflip, when we put on CONEX, we actually viewed it as an opportunity to build content for that whole year to come. Obviously as you touched on a lot of the recordings, ones we can use ... well we even leverage all the people who are there to do interviews and build case studies and do customer testimonials if any of our customers come. So we pull a lot of that extra ... there's a lot of of our content being created not just for the event, in our case, but to fuel the year to come.  And we do a bunch of cool series. So I think there's a lot that content marketers can kind of learn about the opportunity to leverage content coming out of these events. Emma, I couldn't be more appreciative. Just remind us, when and where is the next SaaStock? Emma Pearce: Oh the next SaaStock. So we have our flagship event which is gonna be 4,000 SaaS founders, executives and investors in Dublin on the 14th to 16th of October, but actually SaaStock's on a little bit of a global mission to take over the world in 2019. The next event that SaaStock will be curating is gonna be our last in American event, which is gonna be in San Paolo in April the 23rd to 25th. And then just in case you guys are thinking I've got a really easy chilled out year ahead of me, you might be mistaken in thinking that, because then we are in Asia in Hong Kong, May the 14th through the 16th. Then we'll be in New York for our east coast event June the 4th to 6th. Then we get a nice little break for the summer, couple of months off. And then we're back in San Francisco for our west coast event September 10th through 12th. I mentioned the flagship in October and then closing out the year December 4th to 6th in Sydney for our Austra-Asia event. Randy Frisch: Wow, so I'm just gonna hang out with you and I'll see the world and I'm always happy to speak at the same time, so I can justify it. But sounds like you have a busy schedule ahead. I'm so appreciate of you taking the time to chat with us. We're gonna keep you around just after this short break, 'cause we got to know the work side of you. I got a fun question lined up to get to know the behind the scenes of Emma. Emma Pearce: Oh my gosh. Randy Frisch: So stick around here on CONEX. All right Emma, so we have you for just another minute or two. You put together events and you get to bring out these amazing SaaS leaders, but we wanna get to know what you're interested about behind the scenes.  So if you had the opportunity to bring your secret ... the person that you admire the most. I was gonna say your secret admirer, that sounds a little like Single White Female. That person you admire, the person you'd love to put on a stage and be able to hang out with backstage. Even if it wasn't a SaaS leader, it's probably outside of their ties to your personal interest. Who is that person and why would you choose that person? Emma Pearce: So I actually did it. I used to run an event called Money20/20, a financial services event, and I brought a well-famous behavioral economist Dan Ariely who wrote the book Predictably Irrational, which is if any nerds out there are interested in uncovering the motivations of why we do things that we don't understand why we're doing them, definitely encourage you to read Dan's book. Yeah, I actually brought him to the stage for that event. I did a fireside chat with him, and you know when you're' just a little bit like starstruck. I know it's not me like oh yeah, I met a famous musician or actor. I was just pretty starstruck by an academic whose work I think is really amazing. So a little bit of a sad nerdy answer but there you go. That's who I am as a person. Randy Frisch: Yeah, I love it. It shows your true colors. And I'm curious who yours would be. Anna Hrach: Oh man, this one's hard. So also Emma, real quick. I think that's amazing. I'm totally into all the behavioral science stuff. I think that's awesome. I would have to go the celebrity route. I'm oddly obsessed with Iggy Pop. I think he's fascinating in every way ... like I would just go and put him onstage and he would do whatever he wanted to do. There would be no rules, no script, and it would still be entertaining. Randy Frisch: I love it. Anna Hrach: I just mostly wanna see what he would do. Randy Frisch: That's fair. That's fair. It's that what's gonna happen. The unknown. I like it. Anna Hrach: What about you? Randy Frisch: For me, I was thinking about it as I asked the question 'cause I'm like shit, it's gonna be turned on me next. I've always thought ... and I'm not the biggest basketball fan, but I would love to hang backstage with Shaq. Like Shaquille O'Neal. That guy just seems like he's probably got the craziest stories. The easy answer would be LeBron James, but I want to hear about Shaq's behind stage. And I bet he would just entertain an audience- Anna Hrach: Probably. Randy Frisch: He wouldn't even need a script. I think that guy's hilarious. Anyhow, that's just a random one. I haven't thought about it until now. Anyways, Emma, this has been so much fun. I definitely hope I get to SaaStock. I'm gonna put that on you to get me on stage to make it happen. But it sounds like an amazing event, amazing audiences and I'm sure a lot of our audience will find their time to get to one of those many trips you have coming up for 2019. In the meantime, if you've enjoyed this podcast, please check out all of our other episodes. You can go to Spotify, Sticher or Google Play. You can go to the Convince & Convert site, the Uberflip site. And when you do, and you have those opportunities, leave us feedback. Until next time, on behalf of Anna, I'm Randy. Thank you so much for the tuning in.    
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