Quality Editorial Content Is Key to Conference Success

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Forbes Media Chief Operating Officer Mike Federle talks to Expo about future plans for Forbes’ high-level executive conferences.
Expo: How do you plan to build out your conference business?
Mike Federle: On a basic level, we will be adding more new conferences and growing the ones we have. We are also considering extending our conference brands. Reinventing America is a great example. We have been using it to bring people together to talk about a renaissance in manufacturing, but there are opportunities to bring the same concept to other industry verticals, such as Reinventing Energy, Reinventing Education or Reinventing Agriculture.
Expo: Are you considering other event formats?
Federle: Yes. One area where we see opportunity is with smaller live events, which would be half-day or day-long programs for a targeted audience. We have several events in this format on the drawing board, but it’s too early to talk about them.
We have one virtual conference-tradeshow called the Forbes and NAPFA Advisor iConference, which we do in partnership with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. It makes money for us. The virtual event format hasn’t taken off to the extent we once thought it would, but we think it’s a great model and we will continue to experiment with it.
Expo: There are so many business conferences and new ones rolling out all the time. How do you expect to differentiate Forbes?
Federle: Forbes Media has many strengths and one of them is the connection we have with billionaires and business leaders around the world. Equally important is the content strategy for our conferences. Ideas start with editors from the magazine and website or our network of more than 1,000 contributors.
We also produce video at our conferences and, of course, we have editors there. They post video and stories online, and highlight them in the magazine. This creates a virtuous circle where more high-level people to want to become involved next time.