Grab Your Party Hat and Your Beverage: The Ups and Downs of RSA Conference Planning

Events, Public Relations Posted Jan 27, 2017 by Liza Vilnits

As my colleague Jennifer recently shared, the clock is ticking until the RSA Conference (T minus 17 days!) and things aren’t slowing down at the small but mighty CHEN PR headquarters.

Every year, sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s we take a deep breath and send out that first calendar invite to get together to start thinking about the conference. Immediately after that, at least one person heads to the fridge for a beer or glass of wine.

If you’re a reporter you’re rolling your eyes right now thinking, Yup, I hate PR people.sarah-k-tweet

We know, we see your tweets and we hate ourselves for it too.

But, we do it for our clients! J The competition is brutal, and we’re just vying for an opportunity to impress you with their best-in-class, innovative, enterprise-focused buzzwordy [insert specific technology here], and the execs who not only envisioned the business problem and innovated the perfect solution but also serve as gateways to knowledge about trends, tactics and research related to hacking, regulations, cyber espionage, data privacy, ransomware, IoT and so much more.

lifes-a-pitchWhat comes next is a lot of pitches, follow-ups and more follow-ups. And if you, the PR person, get lucky, you’ll move on to the next stage of exec schedule coordinating, EST to PST time converting and San Francisco Google Mapping. And lastly, confirmations, at-a-glance docs, briefing docs and client prep.

It’s both crazy and rewarding and everyone has their favorite and most dreadful part of the process. Here’s what some of my colleagues had to say about what it’s like being a PR person prepping for the show:

“Every year there’s the race to RSA – gathering clients meetings, getting the more-often than not pushback from reporters who are still figuring out their schedule, and the internal commotion here at CHEN PR as we manage as many as 10 or 11 client meetings, parties and presentations. Though I do enjoy seeing the new parties and/or helping clients conjure up new party themes to start something new and unique – like this year a client is doing a cocktails and ping pong night.” -Kayla

“It’s always a bit stressful and enormously busy planning and scheduling press and analyst meetings for those clients attending the RSA Conference.  There are numerous internal meetings and client prep calls leading up to the Conference and you can count on frequent adjustments.  Then there’s the attention to detail test—the pulling together of everything into one cohesive document that includes topics/messaging, logistics, confirmations and supporting briefing docs included.  However, every year no matter how chaotic, things always seem to come together. It’s really rewarding when you see the fruits of our labor—conversations that end up in articles, relationships built amongst clients and press and analysts, and for some of us from CHEN PR that will be attending this year, we get to meet up with new and familiar faces and take in all of the talented, respected and passionate security experts that keep us all secure.” -JT

“When it comes to gaining the attention of the media, RSA is a hugely competitive environment. What better situation to test your PR mettle? Whether it’s scoring a coveted speaking slot or filling a client’s dance card with meetings and interviews, RSA is the ultimate proving ground.” -Mike

In the end, while the day-to-day prep can feel overwhelming at times, it’s always been overshadowed by the end-result – the relationship-building conversations, the top-tier coverage and the over-the-moon clients. Fingers crossed that RSA 2017 follows suit.

Now, let me get back to those briefing docs…

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