Blog Header
The Insights Blog

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

Inside the 5 Badges of the Conference Caste System

At every conference or tradeshow, you get a badge.  I have a box full of them on my desk, an increasing number of them with the title of "Speaker" affixed beneath my name.  I recently had a conversation with some colleagues about the importance of being a speaker at an event.  Often, the most important benefit is not just the visibility of speaking, but the license that speaker tag gives you to have a conversation with other speakers.  If you think about it, the badges at a conference are like a caste system.  Your badge identifies which group you belong in and can often dictate how people embrace or shy away from a conversation with you. 

There are usually only five types of badges that you can get at a conference (listed in order of importance):

  1. Speaker
  2. Media
  3. Sponsor
  4. Attendee
  5. Vendor

Imb_cesbadges Being a speaker is usually the best choice, because it positions you as an expert at the event and you also have a chance to demonstrate your expertise in front of a subset of attendees.  Media is usually second best, because just about all the sponsors and vendors want to get media coverage.  Last week at an event like the Consumer Electronics Show, however, most people would agree that media was definitely number one because of the relative importance of media coverage to that event.  The interesting thing about "media" at CES (as well as at most other large events today) is that this group is usually divided into two categories: bloggers and press.  For CES, the blogger badges were gray, and the press badges were red.  Thinking this would be a good chance for a bit of a social experiment, I went and got both badges … the blogger badge by virtue of my blog, and the press badge as a result of my writing being republished by the good folks at Digital Media Wire (sorry I missed the Insider event, Ned).

What did I learn?  Probably not surprisingly, the blogger badge got a lot less attention and special treatment.  It was an odd feeling to walk through certain booths first with my gray badge and then switch to the red one.  There were different rooms for bloggers versus press, and in the press room there was real food (not just snacks), rows of press releases that you could pickup and many invites for private parties or events.  Clearly, there is a gap in perceived value between bloggers and journalists from the organizers of CES, as well as many of the vendors exhibiting at the event.  It really is no different than a caste system where individuals are judged based on the color of their badges.  The question is, when will we see this situation change?  Already, there are signs that it is changing.  Most notably, the fact that there is a blogger room and blogger credentials at an event of this size at all.  The way I see it, in another few years, events like this will start to embrace bloggers and media on the same level and apply a similar criteria to who gets credentials.  This means the real metric will be audience and reach.  Regardless of whether you write for a blog or something else, your credentials will be based on the number of people you reach.  It’s just a matter of time before it happens.

2 thoughts on “Inside the 5 Badges of the Conference Caste System”

  1. Hi Rohit – I have to smile at your listing vendors dead last in the priority of badges, from years of doing trade shows as a vendor myself, that’s certainly true. The one exception being the “babe booths” (apologies to all, no intent to be chauvenistic, but unfortunately it’s still true – at so many shows a large part of the attendees are guys pretending to take pictures of products while just taking pictures of the women at the booths).

    If you don’t mind I’ll refer to your list in a post of my own later this week, I’m doing a short one on the changes I’ve seen in trade show advertising over the last few years… from a vendor perspective trade shows are certainly a very different (and for many less important) world than they used to be.

    As always, thanks for the well written posts. Cheers,
    Harry
    https://www.harrybishop.ca

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Vector Smart Object

About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries … and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

Rohit Bhargava About (1)

Speaking

Do you need a speaker that can help your audience be more innovative and anticipate the future?

For more than a decade, Rohit Bhargava has been inspiring audiences at NASA, Disney, Schwab, Microsoft, SXSW, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other clients with his signature non-obvious keynote presentations. He is a master at weaving recent stories into his talks in a way that helps audiences better understand the world today, while also preparing to lead the future.

Non Obvious Insights
Layer 97
Non Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) you’ve been missing.

Books

#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object

Contact

Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message