Speaking at Agency Hackers

Do you want to be involved in an Agency Hackers event? Great! Here’s what you need to know.

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Agency Hackers lets agency leaders mix with, learn from and be inspired by people running similar businesses.

This means we’re always looking for interesting people who can speak at our events – whether they’re live events like Agency Summit, or online events like the webinars we run for our members.

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Who comes to Agency Hackers?

The typical Agency Hackers person runs an independent agency with a headcount of between 50-80 people, and revenue of £3-6m.

Obviously, it varies. We get some agencies that are bigger, some that are smaller, and even some that are part of the big networks. But if you put a gun to my head I’d say that’s the sweet spot.

All kinds of agencies come to Agency Hackers. It’s a stir-fry of advertising agencies, creative agencies, e-commerce agencies, PR agencies and more. We try to mix it up, because if it’s too homogenous you don’t learn anything.

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What do you look for in a speaker?

Agency Hackers is about the actual craft of running a business. We look for authentic, crunchy war stories – told by people who run agencies themselves.

So great topics might be:

  • An interesting mistake you’ve made – and what you’ve learned from it.

  • New and original things you’ve done (or are doing) around marketing, culture or operations.

  • Wins or challenges that others can learn from.

  • War-stories about transformation or agency change.

  • Controversial or unusual opinions about running a business.

What topics DON’T you like?

We don’t really go for talks that are broad, vague, wishy-washy, or too “high concept”.

Agency Hackers is about the ins and outs of actually running an agency – it isn’t concerned with the health of a particular industry or technology. So we don’t look for talks about “the future of advertising” or things like that.

We also don’t like chin-stroky topics about human behaviour, global mega trends, or theoretical wisdom. If you think it would make a great TEDx talk – it’s probably too broad for Agency Hackers.

Talks that DON’T work for us would be:

  • How AI / blockchain is disrupting advertising and marketing

  • Is the smartphone making us stupid?

  • Is social media a force for good?

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Who can speak?

Generally, we look for talks by people who are currently part of an agency business.

We do do sometimes have talks by consultants – people who make their living selling stuff to agencies. But they’re less common.

We’ve just found that agency leaders prefer to hear from people who are “living it” like them.

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What kind of speaking formats are there?

We have lots of formats – so if you’re not a natural public speaker, that’s no problem. We will work with you to find one that lets you tell your story in the best possible way.

Formats include:

  • Traditional stage talk with slides

  • “Campfire session” – where you take part in a small discussion with interested delegates

  • Fireside chat, where somebody asks you questions

  • Webinar – where you either present or you’re interviewed

That’s me – pale, male, hopefully not  that  stale. I don’t really speak at Agency Hackers. I leave that to agency leaders.

That’s me – pale, male, hopefully not that stale. I don’t really speak at Agency Hackers. I leave that to agency leaders.

What is your speaker diversity policy?

Actually, nobody has ever actually asked me “what is your speaker diversity policy”?

But it’s something I’ve been thinking about, so here goes.

Basically I want to do the right thing – but I don’t know what the “right thing” is.

Diversity means lots of things. To me it means gender and skin colour. Diversity is something I’m mindful of. Every time I run an event, I look at our line-up and think: do we have enough women? Do we have enough people of colour?

Often, we don’t. Not really.

First, gender.

Most of our speakers are white men in their 40s. That is because most agency owners in our audience are white men in their 40s.

Looking back over our events, 75% of our speakers have been male.

That looks bad. But maybe it’s just reflective of our industry? According to research by the Wow Company, 23% of agency owners are female. So maybe we’re actually just reflecting our audience?

I don’t know.

Now, race. As far as I know, there are no industry stats on what percentage of agencies are run by “people of colour”.

But looking back at our previous line-ups, yep – they are pretty white. That’s something I’d like to change. But I don’t really know how. Proactively reach out to people with people who aren’t white and ask them to speak? That feels a bit tokenistic – maybe they’d be insulted.

Oh man. I don’t know.

Basically – we’re still figuring this out and trying to do the right thing as best we can. If you think we could be doing better and you have a constructive suggestion to make, I’m all ears – get in touch (ian@agencyhackers.co.uk)