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Old 06-05-2007   #1
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The Truth About SES Speaker Exclusivity?

So what is the deal, we have Rand saying people are talking about it.

We have SEW saying it is not true.

Then we have Danny Sullivan saying he was the one who wrote the exclusivity part into the speaker contracts.

Hmmm...
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Old 06-05-2007   #2
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There's a slight chance that someone asked to speak on a similar topic at both SMX Seattle and SES Toronto which are about a week apart. If someone uses the exact same presentation for both conferences, there's not much value there. The old clause that Danny mentioned makes sense if you think about it.

I love people who blog whilst drunk

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Old 06-05-2007   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilgreenmonkey
There's a slight chance that someone asked to speak on a similar topic at both SMX Seattle and SES Toronto which are about a week apart. If someone uses the exact same presentation for both conferences, there's not much value there. The old clause that Danny mentioned makes sense if you think about it.

I love people who blog whilst drunk
Seeing what time it is I guess you had a liquid lunch mate!!
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Old 06-05-2007   #4
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The Original Story On Speaker Exclusivity

Okay, I have the background of the speaker exclusivity and what happened and on what will most likely happen. Back in early 2004, SES had originally had their East Coast shows in Boston but for this show, if was moved to New York and moved up datewise. Brett Tabke from WebmasterWorld when informed of this, got a little concerned (I remember because I was the one who informed him of the change) since PubCon VI in Orlando was already on the books. It was no biggie at the time, I mean PubCon prior to this date had only been a few hundred attendees and the mix was quite different from SES in those days - in fact we used to post meet-ups for WebmasterWorld folks who were attending SES to get together and if there were a dozen people that was a lot.

Suddenly Google Florida hit and the biggest algorithmic change in Google's history hit the SEO industry. PubCon ended Friday in Florida and SES started Monday in New York. Many people scrambled and changed their SES airline tickets to accommodate PubCon as well since the dates for PubCon were right up against SES New York - I know because I was one of them and I personally know of half a dozen others who did the same thing. I hadn't planned on attending PubCon then but felt that I needed to learn as much as possible about this new algorithmic change.

Apparently a lot of other people thought the same way because suddenly Brett had a real conference on his hands and the 300 or so that he expected turned into around 800 - he ran out of bags, printed schedules, had to order additional lunches and the session rooms were packed and standing room only. So naturally you get that many folks - speakers included - gathered around and enjoying the 'ahem' PubCon festivities and you have a haggered bunch headed up to New York to SES. Yes, some of the speakers looked as if they hadn't slept in days and in many cases it was true. I was amongst several attendees at the airport in Orlando jetting up to New York for the next one. Did speakers have time to change their presentation to make them unique for SES? Probably not, I even remember a few slides that still said 'PubCon' on them during SES.

I don't blame Danny one bit for implementing the new 'rule' stating a two week window of exclusivity before and after a SES show - it made sense, it adds value to a conference but alas, it has rarely been enforced. We saw the same thing happen as Ad:Tech and other shows added more dates, and the more those of us on the conference circuit began to attend conferences, the more we ran into each other and typically it was one conference right after the other. This was never more apparent than last April when WITS, PubCon, SES Toronto and Ad:Tech San Francisco all went back to back and I flew 10,600 domestic miles and stayed 15 nights in hotels back to back. Amazing as I bumped into more conference speakers in different cities and in airports than I ever had before, but now, it seemed like we had learned our lesson and were better equipped on how to accommodate that much conference going and travel and still be able to give 100 percent at every conference, in fact even though many of us did all three major conferences, we ended up having a great time and other than almost missing connections, we managed alright.

I have never seen the speaker exclusivity enforced, although it still exists and is present in every speaker guideline given to every speaker. I think we all learned from what happened and as conference organizers we all attempt to give everyone room in the conference space even though sometimes, though not intentional, it happens. Obviously some speakers are so sought after that it would be silly to enforce it - I believe that Danny was just trying to put a rule out there in the attempts that people would follow it in order to limit what happened back in 2004 in New York.

I haven't heard of anything exclusive between SES and SMX and as one of the conference organizers for PubCon, I can tell you that we don't have this policy. Like Rand and Tim Walsh noted, there is plenty of room and I personally don't think that there is any need for concern.
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Old 06-05-2007   #5
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Thanks Joe...

That was my understanding.
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Old 06-05-2007   #6
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I agree... but we are going to notice the drop in sponsored parties....

guess we will have to just throw our own.
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Old 06-05-2007   #7
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I think that the party scene is dictated by the number of attendees, as the conferences swell to enormous sizes, companies don't want to foot the bill for an open party, hence you see what happened at SES New York this past Spring with mostly private, invite only parties. The smaller conferences will still have decent parties IMO. It will be really telling to see what happens come San Jose and if we will really have multiple parties every night of the conference going on at once like we did in August of 2005.

I know that Google has limited their parties and aren't doing one in Toronto for SES but I believe they are doing something up at SMX now? That may be a sign.
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Old 06-05-2007   #8
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Yahoo is not doing anything in Miami this time... change of system forgot the budget....
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Old 06-05-2007   #9
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Only solution to the party crisis is consolidation!

Maybe Incisive wants to make SMX an offer?
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Old 06-05-2007   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Only solution to the party crisis is consolidation!

Maybe Incisive wants to make SMX an offer?
Has to be worth as much as YouTube!

And if you get it you are buying the drinks
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Old 06-06-2007   #11
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re: consolidation

You know, I think that's what's likely to eventually happen. There are only so many good dates for a conference in a year, and eventually I think someone will decide to hold a conference that overlaps either partially or wholly with another.

There are only two possible responses to that: Blink, and move your conference (which makes you look weak) or go head to head and see which conference is really considered more valuable.

In the short term, I think that would be bad for everyone.

Natural selection is rarely bloodless.

In the long term, well, I'm starting to get to the point where I'm less concerned about my airline status points and visibility and more concerned about seeing my kids grow up and maybe actually working on my clients accounts.

There are just so many conferences you can go to before the ROI simply doesn't add up - whether you are a speaker or an attendee. There is a maximum number of people who can/will attend a conference, and how many they will attend each year, and how much they are willing to pay, in terms of time and money. It's not infinite.

Additionally, some sponsors may have deep pockets, but they are also not limitless. There are just so many conferences each year they will be willing to sponsor.

My opinion,

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Old 06-06-2007   #12
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PubCon's strict speaking policy

In all fairness, we have a pretty strict speaking policy ourselves. Our policy is that we want people to be the best presenters and speakers they can be. We want them to speak at every conference they can get in to. There is nothing like real world experience to improve ones public speaking skills.

Which reminds me of an old Jonny Carson joke:

" Fact: The #1 fear of most people is speaking in public. The #2 fear is dying.
So at any funeral, most people are happier in the box than giving the eulogy."

Brett Tabke
...not sure why my regular Brett_Tabke act is not working (the irony - the irony ;-).

Mod. note #2: NeoSeo and Brett_Tabke accounts merged.

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Old 06-07-2007   #13
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Well, I think I probably have the real background, since I put the clause in.

The first East Coast show for SES was in New York, then later moved to Boston for a few years because Boston was cheaper to run an event in. The entire Boston versus New York versus Florida thing was a non-started in adding stuff.

As for Florida, it already had hit when SES NY happened in 2004. In fact, it sparked attendance for SES Chicago. It wasn't really a factor in any of this.

Brett running PubCon right before SES NY was a factor. You had speakers trying to do both shows, and some turned up tired. It wasn't good for the show. In addition, you had other people trying to run shows in the same city the day before or after an SES, which also felt a bit like crashing the party.

So, I eventually added this clause to speaker guidelines. Those aren't a contract nor are they somehow enforced. But speakers do read them, and over the years, a few would actually ask if it was an issue if they were at another show within the timeframe. I can't recall ever telling someone they couldn't do both. Instead, the clause did exactly what it was meant to do -- send a signal to competing shows -- especially Brett -- that if they kept trying to bump up directly against SES, there was the potential that speakers would have to choose between shows. Suddenly, PubCon found dates that were not longer so close, which I think was better for everyone.

That's lasted until this year, of course. Now PubCon is going directly against SES Chicago, as anyone can see. The speaker clause might be enforced, but it doesn't really have to be. Speakers who commonly do both will absolutely be forced to choose one way or the other by pure logistics.

Meanwhile, as there are more and more shows, it gets harder to expect speakers to block out a two weeks before or two weeks after voluntary or mandatory exclusion from other shows. But what SES does will be up to I guess Kevin Ryan now, at least for the shows after SES San Jose (Chris and I are still doing this, and I'll have to see if that two week clause is something Incisive wants to drop for that show -- though as I said, it's not really something that's been an issue at all).

Various people have written various things about what are in my contract and that of Chris Sherman. Chris has an exclusivity clause as part of his soon to end role as conference coordinator or whatever the title it is he has with SES overall. That clause is why he couldn't speak or moderate at SMX, which was just held. He specifically asked if he could participate and was specifically told he could not, because the clause prevented it.

My contract to chair SES NY and San Jose has a similar exclusion. As conference chairs, it's not quite the same thing as being a general speaker, of course (though this is also the first time as a conference chair that I had this requested as part of my contract). For SES Chicago, I'm just a speaker -- but I have this exclusion, and I fully expect I'll be held to it and unable to speak or participate in PubCon other as an attendee. But I'll check with Incisive about this. Brett had wanted to throw me a sort of SES going away party at PubCon, and I explained I couldn't participate in anything formal like that, because the contract would likely prevent it. But I'll see.

Since we're wrapping up exclusivity stuff, when I left SEW, the correspondents came with me. I told them all that they couldn't be correspondents in both places -- they would have to choose. That's because they would have access to story budgets, so that seemed reasonable to request. No one had an issue with it. I did NOT have an issue with them writing columns or content for SEW, however.

In contrast, I've been told that SEW has been telling new columnists that they specifically cannot have a bylined article at Search Engine Land. I don't know if that's still the case, but I heard it from one very trusted person. We have had some people at SEW write for SEL, but I think they were operating under old agreements. Shari Thurow had an existing column agreement with ClickZ that was enforced to prevent her from writing from us after she did an initial column.

As for SEW Forums, when they launched, many mods wanted to continue on in other places. My attitude was fine -- keep doing that. Webmaster World prevented some mods that wanted to also do SEW from participating, Jake in particular. Then Dave and Jen decided heck, they wanted to come over and did and were still kept on the WMW mod list.

I think that about covers it. Oh, one other thing -- when Chris Sherman was doing contributed content for SearchDay, the request was generally that content be exclusive to SearchDay and not reprinted on other sites. We do a similar thing with Search Engine Land now.

Overall, people do want exclusivity for various reasons. It's understandable in some cases. I generally strive to keep things as inclusive as possible. I've never said you couldn't speak at SES if you did another show period. But saying it was preferred you didn't do two shows back to back seemed understandable. I hope we don't get into a situation where people are somehow being forced to pick "sides," as it were. I hate that and have generally tried as much as possible not to make anyone feel there are sides at all they have to take. The industry doesn't need that.

Last edited by dannysullivan : 06-07-2007 at 09:21 AM. Reason: fixed various typos; i'm sure i didn't get them all
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Old 06-07-2007   #14
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> Brett running PubCon right before SES NY was a factor.

No, that's not correct. Jupiter moved the SES Boston show to NYC and changed the date AFTER we had the Orlando contracts signed and the dates announced.
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Old 06-07-2007   #15
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Brett, I'll go back and pull up all the exact dates, if you want to. But I can assure you, moving to Boston had absolutely nothing to do with you being in Florida. We moved there in 2001 because it was a cheaper city to do things in. And we moved back to NYC because the show had grown enough that it made sense to be in a city with more people, better facilities and easy ability for those in the ad industry to drop in. The city and dates were absolutely not changed because of you or PubCon, sorry.
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Old 06-07-2007   #16
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This is interesting historical info..... I see my daughter (attending her first SES in San Jose this year) using this to write about the year the landscape shifted in the search conference industry when she gets to college.

Will have to make sure she meets the two of you in August.
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Old 06-07-2007   #17
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Oh, I don't think the two were connected either, I just want to be clear that we didn't book any dates for competitive reasons - certainly not against ses at that time. We had the date set and then the show was moved (both location and date) to NYC. I don't even remember if we had our dates announced yet, but we definately had the venue contracted and plans set in motion.
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