No live events, no problem: how we staged 50 speaking engagements in just 100 days

In 100 days Roku organized 50 speaking engagements for the company’s leadership team

In-person events are a powerful tool to raise the profile of your brand’s figureheads. Covid-19 wrecked the best-laid plans of many PR and comms professionals, but that didn’t stop Sophia Economou, programming and content partnerships communications coordinator at Roku, and one of this year’s Future 50, from staging a record number of appearances for the company’s top team.

If you want to turn your company’s senior leaders into figureheads capable of influencing a sector and raising the profile of your brand, industry events are a major opportunity. Every conference, panel and fireside chat, from Advertising Week to Variety Entertainment & Tech Summit, is a chance for our senior leaders to turn heads.

Last year, the pandemic shuttered in-person events in an instant. But in a huge year for TV streaming, it didn’t stop us getting Roku executives in front of the market. In 100 days, we organized 50 speaking engagements for the company’s leadership team. How did we do it?

Heading into the fall, we had a clear strategy. We recognized that the pandemic created an opportunity where Roku could maximize visibility at dozens of industry events to shape the broader market understanding for streaming without requiring major time commitments from our leaders. With that strategic insight, we leaned heavily into developing a clear narrative for our business around the shift to streaming and identified multiple different spokespeople internally who could help bring to life different aspects of the storyline.

The TV streaming business moves quickly and is constantly changing. Being detail-oriented and able to anticipate needs is extremely important in my role, but this speaking campaign emphasized the importance of clear communication. When there are so many moving pieces, especially in a virtual environment, it’s better to over-communicate to ensure everyone is aligned and nothing gets lost. There would often be weeks where we had as many as three to four executives speaking about completely different topics across multiple events on the same day. It was my job to make sure these ran smoothly and everyone had up-to-date information to hand.

We recognized that we had limited announcements in the fall, so these engagements served as a way to keep the buzz we created over the spring and summer going. We focused on an ‘inside-out approach’, meaning we identified opportunities that went beyond an event, generating additional external engagement, like articles and social posts, to amplify reach and have a broader impact. We secured reporters as moderators and partners as panelists to help deepen relationships while also advancing our own messaging. This created fantastic ‘win-win-win’ opportunities for us and for our leaders whose profiles we were helping to build.

These events served as a great way to deepen relationships and engage with reporters outside of pitching. It will be great to bring these collaborations to life in-person.

Throughout the course of Roku’s record year, the scope of my role expanded to own all speaking efforts for the Platform Business. It’s been incredible to help build up the profiles of so many talented leaders. I also had the opportunity to lead a pitching initiative that used Roku data to highlight how consumers are increasingly opting to watch tentpole events and live sports via streaming. I’ve had a front-row seat working on major company announcements, the most recent being the debut of Roku Originals. I am a lifelong TV nerd, so getting to support the launch of our own original content was an especially rewarding experience.

While there is nothing like an in-person gathering, the virtual environment provided tons of flexibility. We leveraged this to elevate executive presence and expand the Roku bench by 62%, bringing a group of 15 diverse Roku leaders to the virtual stage for the first time. The virtual format was a great way to ease folks into external speaking, while also getting to participate in more events than we’d normally be able to.

Discover who’s been named the best emerging marketers in the industry in The Drum’s Future 50.