Conference spam, part II

Below, I complained about a conference — I’ll now say it is Streaming Media — giving out my email address without my permission to vendors. And it’s worse than that: Three of them called me at home! I was irritated but now, reading the comment from conference organize Dan Rayburn, below, I’m pissed. He said:

We allow any press member not to have their name included on a list that we give exhibitors, however we don’t allow that for speakers. Since speakers get a free conference pass, get to promote themselves, get to mention their websites, and get in front of thousands of people at the show, on the website and via the webcast etc… we expect them to also give back and allow companies to contact them who may want to meet them at the show. The networking is a big value of the show.

The problem we all face as one person pointed out is that too many PR people send out e-mails to people who are not targeted to their topic. That’s a problem that no conference organizer can do away with unless they just stop allowing people to network with one another.

What crap. They get free content out of us panelists. I didn’t attend a single session. And I have to put up with spam and invasions of my privacy at home? Bullshit.

I don’t think I’ll be streaming media with them again.

: LATER: In the comments, Rayburn, in my view, digs his hole deeper. Here’s his comment. My reaction:

This shows exactly why so many conferences are so screwed up and worthelss. His attitude is that everybody who’s speaking is speaking to sell shit and then he sells tickets to people to be sold that shit on top of more sponsors who sell more shit.

Gee, I thought people went to conferences to learn things.

Why did I go to the conference? Because Rayburn asked me. I viewed it as a favor. He clearly did not.

Why didn’t I go to any sessions? Because I didn’t find anything of interest. I can now see why.

And I find it pitiful that he’s now dragging in the people who joined the panel — as a favor to me. Yes, I made clear before and at the panel that IdolCritic was a production of my new company but there’s no business to be done for it now that the season is almost over. When I invited Black20, I hadn’t invested in it; I knew that J. would be good on the panel. I invited Fred Graver, a real visionary from Vh1, but he couldn’t make it so the conference added someone. I now feel bad that by inviting them, I opened these people to the spam email and calls from the conferences shills.

It is time for conference speakers to go on strike. No speakers, no conferences.

  • From now on Jeff, Make them pay you to be there.

    You attract people to the conference. You are a reason people pony up money to be there.

    Set your per-diem and make em’ pay.

  • Hey Jeff,

    So you thought the conference was worthy enough for you to speak at, organize a panel around a topic, invite companies to sit on your panel that you work with or have personally invested in, got exposure for yourself and these companies you are associated with etc.. but then didn’t go to a single session at the show besides the one you spoke at. Well I’m confused. What were you expecting to get out of the conference if you don’t attend any of it except your own panel?

    As a conference organizer, how is it ok that we allow people to show off what they are doing, promote themselves and the companies they work, give them a free pass to a three day show, webcast their session online, promote their session as an on-demand video – yet then they don’t attend any of the 3 days of the show, don’t go to any of the networking events, don’t participate in any of the events taking place on the exhibit floor etc….. but then don’t like it when we want attendees to be able to contact speakers before hand for networking.

    Maybe it was a great session, I have not had a chance to watch it yet, but of the four speakers on the panel, two of them we brought in, two of them you did. Both of the ones your brought are companies you work with and have a personal interest in seeing promoted, so that is valuable to you, but you’re saying that none of the other 30 sessions we had, or 95 other speakers we had was of any interest to you? If that is the case, that’s fine, and fair. Not everyone is a fit for our conference, or any conference – but then why speak?

    Also, please note that you did not send in a speaking request via the website, which gives you the ability to opt out of all communications and specifically tells you to list work numbers. Yes, people should not be calling you at home, but when you sent in that number to me, it was not classified as a “home” number – how am I suppose to know that?

    The bigger question to me is, if you were not speaking at the show, would you have attended it at all? If not, then why speak? If the show holds no value to you but the ability to promote something, then personally, I think the show is not a fit for any speaker – which in my eyes is fine. Our show is not a fit for everyone and I am ok with that. I’d rather a speaker say this show is not a fit, I would not attend if I was not speaking and then not speak.

    Most conference organizers will tell you that they want people who have an interest in being there and want to be at the show for something more than just being able to speak and promote themselves. I think anyone would find that fair and reasonable.

    If that is not a fit for what you want, hey, that’s ok. We learn and move on. If our show is not a fit for you, then I will thank you for speaking and hope that you find a show that you feel is a better fit for you in the future.

    Dan Rayburn
    Conference Chairman

  • On October 10th, of last year, after I invited you to the West event that you could not attend, you sent me an e-mail saying “hope you’ll include me in the east event.” So I did include you as a speaker because YOU asked about the East show. But you make it sound like I twisted your arm and forced you to speak when you really didn’t want to and I wasted your time. You asked me to include you and you sounded interested in it, so it seemed like a fit.

    Yes, speakers give content and all conferences would have no conferences without speakers. But don’t conferences also give back to those speakers? Absolutely. There is no question that speakers get promotion in return. Now is it the same level of value they put in? I can’t answer that, only a speaker can decide that and if your feeling is no, then ok, this show is not a fit for you. But it’s not as one sided as you make it. Your implying that speakers provide value but the opportunity and platform they get in return to speak holds no value to them at all. If that was the case, then no one would speak at any show.

    If giving speakers the opportunity to get in front of press attendees like Advertising Age, Broadcasting & Cable, Business Week, ClickZ News, CNET, Forbes, IDC, Yankee Group, Scribe Media, Financial Times, eWeek and more provides no value to speakers and you think they would be better off by not speaking at all, then we, along with many other conferences would not exist. Clearly, many speakers would disagree with you that they do want the exposure they get and that there is a value to them.

    It’s a two way street. Conference organizers need speakers and the speakers need conference organizers. If speakers went on strike and there were no conferences, how would that benefit the industry and the customers who are looking for information and education from that industry? They wouldn’t. Everyone would lose, speakers, customers, the press, analysts and the industry.

    I don’t do this for the money, I do this because I want to help an industry grow, I want to educate people and I want to provide something back to an industry that has taken care of me. Your implication that I only want to charge people for something and make money etc…. that’s a comment from someone who does not know me. You and I never even met in person until today.

    Case in point, by business card has my home phone number printed on it along with my work numbers. Why do that? Because I am willing to take what comes with it. Do I fault you for not wanting to do that, absolutely not. We’re two different people in two different industries with different objectives.

  • Dan, I was being polite.

    And I would expect the simple courtesy of not giving out my email and phone number — home number — without my permission. Common courtesy.

    Enough. Fear not. I won’t be asking to be in your conferences henceforth and you won’t be asking either.

    And could we all speak with each other without conferences like this? Yes. Ask Dave Winer. he has done it.

  • Here in Canada, releasing a person’s personal information is punishable by a fine of up to 10,000 for the first offense and 100,000 for each offense after that. New rules regulate the release of personal information, and on this side of the 49th, the conference would have been liable for releasing private details.

    Might be a good time to write policy, and get everyone working from the same page. Always ask, it saves both side a lot of hurt feelings.

    Darcy Moen

  • Mark Rutledge

    I guess that “Abandon whining all ye who enter here” post has been abandoned.

  • Eric Gauvin

    I agree with Dan Rayburn.

    Jeff, have you lost your mind? You sound like a nutcase.

    (and according to your rules of engagement:

    “No personal attacks, hate speech, bigotry, or seven dirty words in the comments or comments will be killed along with commenters.”

    I thought “shit” was one of those words and specifically within the context of your professional relationships.)

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  • As someone who also does public speaking at conferences, Jeff, I’m with you.

    Not only are you providing content, in your case, you’re a name who helps puts butts in seats.

    Of course, I also get pissed when I pay to attend a conference and start getting conference spam.

  • Cooler Heads

    Jeff, I’m with Dan. if speaking at conferences was such a chore, you wouldn’t do it. If you don’t bother to read the details about your participation, then it’s your own fault you get spam.

    Calling you at home, though, is not acceptable. But those people will pay the price because you won’t ever write about them, correct?

  • Uh, Cooler, logical leap there> I was never given any fine print. That’s the point: I was never given the opportunity to opt out. It’s not my fault if I get spam. It’s the spammers’ and their enabler.

  • Simple solution – Set up a speakers contract. From what I’ve read – from both sides – speakers need one. Jeff if you do this it may be worthwhile to post it on your site (under a CC license) so that other speakers can take advantage of it.

    When you’re requested to speak – and it’s my experience that organizers chase speakers not the other way around – send it off.

    Don’t speak unless it’s signed – sue if the terms are broken.

    Simple. Legal. And everyone know what’s expected and what’s in-store if they break the terms.

  • Eric Gauvin

    I think publicly humiliating Dan and his conference is a great solution. I think he should sue you.

    I agree with Peter Childs. Handle it like a grown-up instead of crying your ass off to the world if something bothers you. I’m sure Dan is just as irritated by you (if not more). He and others need protection from the likes of you.

  • It’s a sad fact that there are bad/stupid marketing/PR folks out there who make the good ones look bad. But at the same time, isn’t it a commonly understood fact that, in addition to education, these events are all about networking and schmoozing and marketing? The attendees of many events get marketed to and/or spammed when they register to attend, too. Home phone calls are a different matter, but why give anyone your home number in the first place? If your home is your office and that’s the only number you have to give out, then complaining is lame.