The power of the roundtable event in B2B public relations
The roundtable is a hidden gem of high value engagement and content creation
As PR practitioners we have many tools at our disposal when considering the best channels with which to reach target audiences. In a recent blog we talked about some creative PR tactics you can use that could deliver more ‘bang for your buck’ to your campaign than the traditional press release, and one of the channels we highlighted was the roundtable event. But what we’re keen to understand is whether those seeking to elevate their brand in the market really appreciate the high impact, high reward value of these discussion events. Let’s look again at the power of the roundtable discussion to build engagement.
What is a roundtable?
First of all, to assess this we need to define what a roundtable event is, and also, what it isn’t.
A roundtable event will bring together a small number of leading thinkers and knowledgeable experts, usually less than 10, to discuss a particular topic. These events create a forum for insightful, engaging and often lively conversation on a key issue that’s getting attention in the industry today, either something that’s getting people talking, or getting them excited, or perhaps something that’s keeping them up at night.
The format of the event will be a structured discussion, facilitated by a moderator, that focuses on a handful of key issues from within the agreed topic. This can either be done in-person with the participants gathered around a table, or can be hosted online, with the option of the session being recorded which then gives you content you can draw on following the event. Participants will be invited because they are authoritative experts on the subject, and because they are able to bring a different perspective to the discussion than the other invitees. The hosting company may wish to invite one or two of their customers, as well as independent consultants, analysts, academics, commentators and journalists, to bring the different sides of the debate together.
Key to the success of roundtable events is to ensure they are positioned appropriately and to make sure they are not hijacked by any of the participants as a platform to promote products or services. If the discussion becomes a sales pitch, you will immediately lose your audience.
Why do a roundtable?
The objective of a roundtable event is to open lines of communication to build relationships with key experts and influencers, and to attach authority to your brand by association. The event itself may have a small audience, but the value derived from your engagement with the invitees and even with those who do not end up attending but whom you engage with when outreaching to secure participation can be exceptionally high. This outreach can create new links between your organisation and leading industry thinkers, it can forge new partnerships that could help drive new opportunities in the future, and through gleaning the different insights and perspectives on key issues it can even unlock insights into the industry that help inform your business strategy and ensure your future success.
Following the event you then have the opportunity to capitalise on the discussion and create content you know is going to be highly engaging. You know it’s going to be of interest because you’ve already secured the time and resources of highly sought-after experts to participate, and they have willingly given their time to lend their voice to your forum. Outputs from the discussion can be disseminated into whitepapers, press releases, articles, blogs… the content creates itself!
What do we know about it?
We have worked with clients on many of these events and one thing we can absolutely say is, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our clients come away from these events excited about new opportunities, new engagement and new content that will keep them in the discussion for months and years to come.
These events are not a flash in the pan, in most cases they can be the spark that ignites a new campaign, or helps propel an organisation into a new market or a new space, lending credibility and authority to an organisation we already know has great stuff to say to its audiences.
As part of a wider, comprehensive PR and Communications programme, roundtables can be a really effective tool in your arsenal for securing not only that high value, high impact direct engagement, but a solid pipeline of genuinely engaging content and collateral.
If you want to know more about how EC-PR can build an effective communications programme for your technology services business, please get in touch.