Monday, December 2, 2002

Vendor bias

Guess this is as good a place as any to vent. I was invited to speak at a conference next week in DC. Attendees will be c-level marketing executives from the nation’s top law firms. While there are plenty of qualified possible speakers out there, the conference organizer invited me because we’ve known each other for six years and he considers me to be something of an authority when it comes to certain uses of technology within the legal profession.

When I called to confirm details for the event a few weeks ago, I found out that I’d been removed from the panel. I was surprised, as noone had bothered to notify me before. I asked why. Was told that since my company wasn’t sponsoring the event, they didn’t want to give me a speaking opportunity which could benefit my company. (Interestingly, the conference company didn’t bother to inform the conference organizer – which infuriated the organizer. But that’s a separate topic.)

Nevermind that I’ve written books on the subject, have spoken at dozens of conferences over the past five years, and write a monthly column on the subject of law and technology. Nope – it’s all about the money. In one conference I speak at regularly, my speaking slot is secured only after my company agrees to pony up well over $20,000 to sponsor the event.

While I appreciate that conferences must make money, and that frequently they make money by way of vendor sponsorships, is it too much to ask that a line be drawn between editorial and ad sales? Or am I missing something?

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