IP Expo, a place where a Canadian astronaut, a Lord of the Rings themed tech talks, and an Oktoberfest themed happy hour all sit under the same roof. As a PR, running around a tradeshow from interview to interview is par for the course and, much like the dentist, necessary and usually better than expected. However, this year IP Expo threw me a curve ball.
Thanks to the founder and director at Compare the Cloud and Disruptive Live (thanks Dan!) I was allowed to do something that many PRs don’t get the chance to do – be a journalist for the day. I was asked if I would be interested in co-hosting the afternoon segment of the Disruptive Live broadcast from IP Expo, having 15-minute conversations with a variety of vendors. Luckily, I was familiar with the process as I had secured one of these interviews for my client earlier that day.
My much more qualified co-host, Bill Mew, and I spoke to a variety of vendors about a number of companies. We discussed their thoughts on what was impacting the technology sector and what their thoughts on the show were.
To answer a few questions off the bat: no, I have never done anything like that before, and yes, I was absolutely terrified. But, it was a great opportunity and I’m not one to back away from a challenge!
In fact, I ended up learning quite a few lessons from my time in a journalist’s shoes:
- Asking questions is a lot harder than it looks
Journalists, and especially those in front of the camera, make their jobs look easy. Of course, anyone can ask a question, but it’s about asking the right questions and framing them in a way to bring relevance and context to that interviewee. It’s a magic act of listening to answers from interviewees while thinking of their next question. And no, my co-host did not have cue cards with questions on them.
- 19 is a few stages too many
It’s an unfortunate truth that while at a tradeshow, no one has time to get the full benefits of what it has to offer. The vendors are busy at their stands converting conversations into business, PRs are busy running from one end of the expo to the other to make it to different client briefings, and journalists are diligently filing stories in the press room. Because of this, I was confused as to why IP Expo had 19 stages set up for scheduled talks. NINETEEN. The sheer volume of stages, and subsequently talks, meant that the majority of speaking sessions were diluted in terms of audience numbers.
Who knew? If it hadn’t been for a conversation about PR best practices, then I wouldn’t have got the opportunity to chat with journalists, vendors, and other influencers in the industry. Chatting to people in the industry can lead to a multitude of opportunities that you didn’t even know existed. Be open minded, talk to people, and you never know what opportunities you can unearth for yourself or for you clients.
- Cloud and hybrid are everywhere
One interviewee said it quite succinctly, if you’re not seeing the word ‘cloud’ on a stand then you’re seeing the word ‘hybrid’. While this isn’t mind-blowing information, if you think back to conversations that were being had just five years ago, just as the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, cloud and hybrid have become integral to the IT infrastructure of the future.
- You actually can’t see the great wall of China from Space
According to the aforementioned Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, you can’t, it’s too thin and closely follows the grooves in the mountainous terrain. You CAN, however, see the M25 – depressing I know!
- Savannah O'Hare