Panelists, unite!

I was asked to be on another damned panel in February, this one for the Software & Information Industry Association’s Information Industry Summit and I just got notice from them that if I want to attend the whole two-day gabfest, they expect me to pay them and love doing it:

“We are pleased to offer you a special one day registration rate of $495 if you wish to attend the entire Summit; this represents a savings of up to $1,100 off the full conference price of $1,695.”

Well whoop-dee-doo.

What incredible nerve. Though it may be worth the price of admission to see me sitting on the same panel with Roger Simon of PJ media, I nonetheless had a patented Jarvis conniption.

We as panelists come as their trained monkeys to give these conference organizers the only damned content they have and they expect us to pay for the bananas? Well, peel this!

It’s time for panelists everywhere to unionize, to rise up and form the International Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Amalgamated Blatherers, Local 1. We demand free nametags — with ribbons. We demand good bottled water on the table. We demand decent swag briefcases made of real fabric or leather, no plastic. And we demand a cut of the gate.

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  • hey

    whenever I’m at these conferences, I always assume that, at the very least, the speakers got comped for the conference. given the value of publicity for careers and promoting one’s company, I don’t expect that most people get paid to speak at them, other than those whose career is speaking (P. Drucker…).

    If they’re trying to sell this as an integrity preserver.. HA! Likely they’re just being cheap.

  • jr

    Where do I sign up. I have never been a conference Blatherer but I’m sure with the unions backing I could get lots-o-gigs.

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  • over the past few years i’ve been a keynoter/panelist/presenter in my field (education and national service). on occasion i’ve been paid well ($1,000+/day) and on occasion, i’ve covered all my own expenses, including airfare. i do it because i’m passionate about the people whom i believe my content can help, and i’m passionate about the field. you can tell who’s in it for the money and inflated sense of royalty.

    i’m not knocking you, my friend, but if you don’t mind, i vote for an open shop on this union thing. i’d prefer to do it for my own reasons. please try to keep the shouts of ‘scab’ down as i walk past the burning drum ;)

  • Speakers as Affiliates?

    Jeff Jarvis should be outraged at the conferrence producer who offered him a reduced attendee fee for his role as a speaker, instead of a fully comped pass. Every conference speaker (with the exception of pay-to-play speakers) should have full conference access, as well special recognition on-site.

    Jarvis also asks for a “cut of the gate.” Now that’s more interesting than an honorarium. What about it? Why couldn’t conference producers treat some of their speakers as affiliates, and give them a percentage of revenues for each registration they drive?…

  • For academic conferences, it’s pretty normal to have to pay your own way, including fees for attending. It strikes me as unusual for a corporate event for which they’re charging big bucks, though.

  • LC

    I’ve been out of the industry for quite a while but, at least in the first decade of the PC/LAN revolution, most (if not all) conferences gave all speakers a comp pass (at least for the day and, frequently, for the entire show); VIPs (and I think Jarvis would qualify as such) also got fees.

    Just another example of how far downhill the industry has gone.

  • Gosh-a-rooney! I’d be delighted to be asked to be on any panel for any topic but they would have to:

    A.) Pay big bucks

    B.) Expect nothing from me but nod’s of agreement and a sage expression

    C.) Pay big bucks (did I mention in adavance?)

  • This came up in my own profession (LibraryLand) this week when two speakers invited to give a talk to the Public Library Association learned that because they belong to the American Library Association (of which PLA is a division), they are expected to pay registration fees to speak at PLA’s spring conference.

    I sort of grok the concept of sharing with one’s own, but these two folks (Jenny Levine of Shifted Librarian is one) didn’t lobby to give this talk; they were invited. Much pious discussion of how we need to Give Back to the Profession has followed. Mind, I have given plenty of talks gratis in my own associations, but if I didn’t belong to one of the many many organizations and was invited to speak, I’d assume it was on their dime.

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  • Edw3rd

    Events seem to be going the way of Reality TV – I’m afraid it is ALL going to be pay-to-play pretty soon. Three times in the past year I’ve been invited to speak at high profile events in the marketing industry and after the initial agreement to speak, each one of them THEN said, btw other than the keynote, we consider these all sponsored talks. Forgettaboutit.

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  • We run a conference that is comparable to the SIIA event, with the slight difference that ours runs three days rather than two. Like SIIA, we allow speakers to attend the day of their presentation without cost but we ask those individuals to pay a sum to cover the cost of their food if they choose to attend for the full event. In those instances, where an individual isn’t associated with an institution but is traveling “on their own dime”, we’ll do our best to arrange some form of subsidy. In some instances, we’ll cover the total cost of travel. If you have a problem with the set-up presented to you by a conference organizer, speak to them directly about your individual situation. But I wouldn’t assume that they should be expected to cover your expenses in full for the total conference. Speaking is both a perk (“The world notes your wisdom and expertise”) and a burden (“How much is that hotel room going to run?”). That’s why speakers are invited, with the option of saying “no” being available to them.

    Just for the record, I will say that I thought your panel was the best of the day which I attended…