Another round of Pubcon Las Vegas is in the books. As always, the conference filled most of the convention center’s south hall and featured speakers and keynotes from all backgrounds and organizations.
My previous Pubcon article featuring some of the best women-led sessions at the annual conference was well-received, so here are some tips on making sure any event you plan or attend puts a focus on women in tech.
Many of these ideas are things Pubcon and many attendees are already doing, making it a great conference series to attend.
Planning breakfast events during conferences is great because most people don’t have plans like they do in the evening, especially in a city like Las Vegas. This year I planned a “women in digital marketing” breakfast the last day of Pubcon and invited several women I knew and had met at previous conferences. I asked them to let me know if there was anyone else they’d like me to invite as well.
— Kelsey Jones (@wonderwall7) October 13, 2016
While the 7:30am meet-up time was rough, we had a good group and enjoyed getting to know one another. Sharing breakfast has a lot of benefits: you’re fresh in the AM so you’re likely to be more open and perky; you have the whole rest of the day to interact if you want to meet up again later; and breakfast food is usually easy to plan around since it’s the same almost every restaurant you go to.
I plan on hosting another Women in Digital Marketing Pubcon Breakfast next year and opening it up on social media so we can all get to know even more of our fellow attendees.
Reach Out to Female Influencers
One thing Pubcon get a lot of commendation on this year is that they had a female keynote speaker the second day of the conference. In most conferences (especially tech), the headline or keynote speakers are usually men, so it was great to see Debra Jasper leading a session.
In the future, let’s hope Pubcon and other conferences will continue to make an effort to have women keynotes more of a regular occurrence.
Social Media Campaigns
If you want to attract more female attendees, you can use custom targeting in social media campaigns that focus solely on women in tech. This is a great way to make sure you are getting an even mix of attendees.
In addition, some research shows that women are in charge of more of the purchasing decisions in companies, which may help lead to a higher ROI.
Connect on Twitter Beforehand
One of my favorite tricks that I mentioned in a recent Marketing Nerds podcast (LINK) was doing my research on some of the women I wanted to meet at Pubcon and other conferences I know I’m going to be at.
Often if you are nervous about meeting new people, reaching out on Twitter or LinkedIn first is a great way to break the ice. It gives you an easy opening and makes the meeting in-person process much easier. I often pull something from someone’s Twitter bio, job experience, or session description (if they are speaking) and include that in my tweet or message to them.
One thing I didn’t do before my time at Pubcon this year is compile of “Women in Tech at Pubcon” Twitter list. I would’ve added all the female speakers, as well as other industry friends and colleagues that I knew were attending.
If you’re an event organizer and you have attendees’ permission, you could also do this on your own conference account as well. Twitter lists are not only a great way to promote the women that are attending your events, but it gives everyone a great resource to pull from when they are trying to find more influencers to follow.
Feature Women in Advertising and Promotional Materials
Many times, even website design and online advertising don’t feature women as equally as men. Take a look at the stock photos and illustrations featuring people on your own marketing materials and collateral: is there an equal number of men and women? Furthermore, are women shown as powerful as men?
If the only materials with women show them listening to men or taking directions in a passive way, there’s still more that you could be doing. Next time you set out to create images for your website or banner ads, choose photos of women in powerful, non-submissve or obvertly-sexual positions.
Even though this may be seen as something small, avoiding passive sexism DOES make a difference.
Make Booths More Professional
The CES show that is also in Vegas every year has come under fire in recent years for continuing to allow “booth babes” at exhibitor booths. This is exactly the type of thing that not only promotes sexism, but can make women feel unwelcome.
Make sure any booths, expos, or events your company is holding has clear guidelines on what’s acceptable. Staffing events with the most qualified people in professional attire makes the entire event more professional.
Do a Lunch Meet-Up
I know I mentioned breakfast earlier, but lunch can have a whole different vibe and be a great way to get to know more women in tech. As an attendee, you can find tables during lunch that have seats open and have mostly women. Be sure to invite any women that are searching for a place to sit– finding the perfect lunch table is often one of the hardest parts of conferences.
Anything that makes everyone feel more comfortable during their downtime can increase inclusiveness, as people are more likely to open up and create great conversations during their midday breaks.
Similarly like the breakfast example mentioned above, the conference or attendees could organize women-centered lunch meet-ups to get to know one another or even discuss issues in tech.
Schedule Future Ways to Work Together
One of my favorite things that both conference organizers and women in tech can do together to promote more equality is to find ways to work together outside of the event. Pubcon frequently has speaker features and recaps on their blog, for example.
I also try to do is ask more women to be on the Marketing Nerds podcast or I will make plans to introduce them to someone that I think would further their goals and interests. If I’m going to more conferences after the one we are currently at, I’ll ask if they will be there too and offer to meet up for drinks or attend one another’s sessions while we are there.
The camaraderie that comes with face-to-face time fosters a spirit of support and positivity.
Talk About It!
As much as we fight the urge to point it out (because it’s uncomfortable sometimes), it is important to talk about gender inequality in tech and digital marketing. By bringing it up and making it a focus of your networking and content strategy, you can increase the visbility of the women that make up our industry. Some of the best search and marketing professionals I know are women, and they deserve their kudos and spotlight as much as everyone else.
Thanks to Pubcon for giving me a press pass to attend and cover the event!
Screenshots taken Oct 2016.