Thousands of industry events and conferences take place every year, but only a handful command attention as launchpads for world-changing visions and disruptive solutions to age-old problems. These are the events that attract the thought leaders on a mission to upend the status quo, and the masses of people who want to follow them.
A typical corporate event attendance plan covers the bases by ensuring the brand is visible at conferences where buyers are in attendance and thinking about purchases for the year ahead. A savvier and more strategic event plan also ensures the company’s thought leadership is visible at events where influencers, media, and industry heavyweights seek out new ideas that will shape the next 20 years.
The team at RH Strategic keeps tabs on hundreds of events across business, technology, security, healthcare, education and government each year so that we can nominate speakers and help clients win attention from media and influencers that attend.
We’ve gathered the top 12 events across several technology market segments where radical ideas, disruptive products and visionary leaders rise to the top to help you decide where you should invest time to lead change in your industry — and the world.
Aspen Security Forum
- Date: July 17-20, 2019
- Location: Aspen, CO
- Industry focus: Security and policy
Being able to attend at the Aspen Security Summit places you directly in front of those that are making the decisions that impact our country’s security posture. This event is more than just cybersecurity, however, and incorporates dialogue on homeland defense, privacy protection and nation state actors. Featuring federal-level speakers and industry experts, this event fosters intimate conversations and sharing of ideas that can have a significant impact on the future direction of cybersecurity investment and policymaking.
RH Strategic PR Hack: The Aspen Security Forum does not have a trade show, so your best opportunity to make an impact is through asking questions, connecting with key community members and sharing ideas. Being provocative with your positions and opinions can be an effective way to get noticed. Consider sharing real-time social content from the event to ensure you can showcase your brand as part of these crucial conversations.
- Date: April 8-10, 2019
- Location: San Diego, CA
- Industry focus: Education
ASU GSV brings together the top minds at the intersection of technology and education. Attendees include CEOs, education leaders, policymakers and thought leaders for dialogue and to drive action that raises learning and career outcomes through scaled innovation. This is a more intimate gathering than other education technology conferences and is an excellent high-level networking venue.
RH Strategic PR Hack: Prepare sessions on innovative solutions to common problems to showcase the value you offer to educators around the world. The smaller venue enables the opportunity for deeper connections with media and other industry peers.
The Atlantic Festival
- Date: September 24-26, 2019
- Location: Washington, D.C.
- Industry focus: Technology and Policy
The Atlantic Festival is an immersive look at the cultural impacts that technology can have on the world around us. The event features in-depth interviews with some of today’s biggest innovators and leaders in technology, politics, business and the arts to dig in to how our world is evolving and the influences that shape our society. To truly challenge the status quo, this event also incorporates live performances, film screenings and art exhibits to immerse yourself in paradigm-shifting experiences.
RH Strategic PR Hack: The Atlantic Festival can be a powerful experience to reset your definition of story telling. Embrace the mediums and the tools that are available and take a risk through a creative medium such as video to tell your story. As technology innovators, we push ourselves to deliver a quality experience for our users. Taking that same approach with product launches, sales enablement materials or customer engagement communications can deliver a new experience to your audience that can truly shift their perceptions of your brand.
- Date: August 3-8, 2019
- Location: Las Vegas, NV
- Industry focus: Security
BlackHat USA is the world’s leading information security event, providing attendees with the very latest in research, development and trends. BlackHat offers on-site trainings and workshops to deliver hands-on experience for all levels of security professionals.
Black Hat is known as the hacker conference. The latest exploits, hacks and vulnerabilities are disclosed here with many researchers debuting their work at the conference. BlackHat has taught us that anything is hackable, from cars to voting machines.
Before pitching BlackHat, make sure you have peer-reviewed research at the ready. This is a great opportunity to interact with true thought leaders, those that are writing code and working to shape the future of information security.
BlackHat is generally followed by an even nerdier conference, DefCon. This is where the true secrets of the cybersecurity world get shared. You can interact with (in)famous hackers or government officials, sometimes it’s the same person.
RH Strategic PR Hack: Don’t send your CEO. Send the actual experts on the front lines of hunting exploits and writing code. The attendees at BlackHat are wary of superficial marketing speak. Original research, new vulnerabilities or experimental studies are the key to break through to this audience. This is an opportunity to flex your brand’s technical acumen and display that you are a contributing member of the larger security and privacy community.
- Date: January 8-12, 2019
- Location: Las Vegas, NV
- Industry focus: Consumer Technology and policy
While it’s too late for CES 2019, CES 2020 should be on your plan for 2020. CES is the world’s largest electronics trade show. It has stood the test of time and is considered a must-attend by manufacturers, marketers and, increasingly, thought leaders. In addition to the core tradeshow and conference tracks, countless pop up conferences, fireside chats and informal gatherings of innovators and makers.
Why does CES matter even if you don’t make consumer electronics? Chances are your next potential large customer is there. Chances are the business media influencer you’ve been trying to get in front of is there. Chances are a potential investor is there.
RH Strategic PR Hack: Happy hours are effectively cliché at this event. Consider hosting an influencer brunch or outside activity to help boost your chances of getting a coveted RSVP. Additionally, paid engagements such as Pepcom may worth the investment to get in front of key media. We also recommend having an agenda in place before heading to Las Vegas. While some events are best left to serendipity, the scale of CES and the geographic sprawl make this a logistical challenge and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to meet with a reporter at the Venetian because you’re in the Mandalay Bay cab line.
- Date: June 10-12, 2019
- Location: Scottsdale, AZ
- Industry focus: Technology
The Code Conference, produced by the founders of Re/Code is where the most important leaders in tech are faced with hard-hitting questions and candid conversations about what’s next for their companies. Seasoned journalists Kara Swisher and others dig deeper into challenges and opportunities of industry stalwarts, and talks with the new generation of technology titans who are casting the future.
The organizers do a great job of luring provocative technology influencers on stage and rarely pull punches with the questions they ask or the topics they encourage speakers to explore. This is a great “agenda setting” event for the technology industry.
RH Strategic PR Hack: Be willing to listen. Those on stage are the tech leaders fueling TechMeme headlines and podcast hot takes. Their decisions, innovations and visions are what sets the agenda for the rest of the industry. Silicon Valley is constantly seeking the next disruption and your ability to deliver it can start with the conversations that happen on stage at Code. Code also gives an insightful look at how the media will cover certain topics and trends. The social impact of technology, emphasis on privacy and what the next definition of “innovation” are all on tap in 2019. Focus on your value-add and be ready to execute.
Grace Hopper Celebration
- Date: October 2-5, 2019
- Location: Orlando, FL
- Industry focus: Women in Technology
The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. One of the event’s visions is for “a future where the people who imagine and build technology mirror the people and societies for which they build it.” That is a powerful statement and it reflects the ideals of this event.
RH Strategic PR Hack: One of the big themes from the Grace Hopper Celebration is “mentorship.” By showcasing a commitment to mentoring and empowering the current and next generation of technology leaders, you can position your brand as a valued and forward-looking member of this community. Spotlight the contributions from the women in your company and highlight the value they bring. Showcase the technologies they’ve developed and the impact on your company’s most-important missions.
- Date: TBA – Fall 2019
- Location: TBA
- Industry focus: Healthcare
Discover the answer to the question “What’s next in healthcare?” by attending Health 2.0. This event focuses on the innovations that shape healthcare and personal care through interactive sessions and demonstrations. Health 2.0 emphasizes the human connection to healthcare and the technologies that enable it. If you’re focused on big data and managing patient outcomes through data, you won’t be left out here.
Health 2.0 works hard to look farther into the future, digging into forward-looking trends such as the role of blockchain in healthcare, what artificial intelligence’s future value will be for providers, and the race to personalize medicine and therapies.
RH Strategic PR Hack: This is a great event to showcase your thought leadership through being a visible member of the community. Prepare a content outline in advance of the conference and even take the time to ensure that you have conversations or interviews with other community members coordinated ahead of times.
- Date: March 27-28, 2019
- Location: Washington, D.C.
- Industry focus: Healthcare
Health Datapalooza brings together technology innovators, care givers and even patients to meet and discuss the top healthcare issues with federal policymakers and regulatory leads. The attendee mix makes Health Datapalooza a diverse community of big thinkers and roll-up-our-sleeves-and-get-it-done problem solvers who share a mission to liberate and use data to improve health and health care. The event takes place in Washington, DC and features a speaker lineup that represents diverse perspectives and ideas.
The event is centered around quantifiable evidence and real-world application of ideas, with a healthy dose of policy. This means that if you attend, you can jump into on-site “working sessions,” using real data, to tackle a problem and have actionable knowledge to share back at the office.
RH Strategic PR Hack: Presenting objective, results-oriented data or case studies will help you stand out from the crowd. Launching a product or service at Health Datapalooza means that you have the ability to verify its impact and withstand the industry’s tough scrutiny. Using this event as a listening post will ensure that you’re incorporating the aims of our healthcare system’s policy-makers and deliver a stronger value proposition to your customers.
- Date: October 27-30, 2019
- Location: Las Vegas, NV
- Industry focus: Healthcare
A diverse content framework, a hackathon to explore solutions to newly discovered problems and even guided vendor briefings makes HLTH an immersive and engaging event that can help your company emerge as a true innovator in the future of healthcare. The multi-track content brings together a rich mix of research presentations, breaks down the barriers between provider/patient/payer and adds in the perspectives of industry investor and analysts. HLTH does a great job of blending forward-looking vendors and technology innovators with established clinical research and real-world healthcare scenarios.
RH Strategic PR Hack: If your company is making an announcement at HLTH, amplify it by submitting this form. One thread among the healthcare events we recommend is their emphasis on the “prove it” approach and presentation of data/proprietary research. Be sure that your messaging and talking points capture the quantifiable successes your team is delivering. This event places a premium on announcements and news-making opportunities.
- Date: March 8-17, 2019
- Location: Austin, TX
- Industry focus: Technology and policy
Long-billed as “Spring break for geeks,” SXSW (or simply South By for those that are seasoned veterans) has established itself as a launch point for industry-defining technology trends such as social networking (Twitter’s coming out moment was SXSW 2007), location-based services (Foursquare, Gowalla, and others have launched here) and even ways companies work (Tim Feriss launched his “The Four-Hour Workweek” book at SXSW 2007). The South by Southwest Conference & Festivals celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW is the premier destination for discovery.
RH Strategic PR Hack: SXSW is the definition of serendipity. The event has grown in scale and sprawl and the intimate moments that defined the early days have given way to large-scale productions and activations. Keep your eye open for the pop-up opportunities to attend a secret party or unofficial meetup to connect with influencers in a smaller setting. Consider setting up open office hours at a coffee shop or even renting a near-by home to host your events and meetings.
- Date: October 2-4, 2019
- Location: San Francisco, CA
- Industry focus: Startup Technology
Disrupt is where you’ll find the renowned Startup Battlefield competition, a virtual Hackathon, hundreds of startups in Startup Alley, Workshops and legendary networking. Tech execs from the industry’s top startups and success stories gather for startup pitches, product launches and shared insights into the state of the industry.
TechCrunch Disrupt is worth considering as a startup launchpad. Past winners include Trello, Mint, Yammer and Dropbox. But there are smaller “battlefields” and pitch events alongside the main presentations that still draw a significant amount of attention. Emerging from stealth mode or debuting the full version of your next product can produce significant immediate results.
RH Strategic PR Hack: Disrupt is a networker’s dream. The room is full of the movers and shakers of the tech scene, most of whom are there to see the next big technology breakthrough. Innovation may fall in the categories of social media, enterprise productivity tools or back-end technologies to build the next consumer app or virtual reality success. Make sure your innovation story is tied to disruption and major impact to position your company for maximum attention.