» Wedding PR: Developing Your Speaking Platform

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. As a highly sought-after speaker in the wedding industry, she is the exclusive Wedding PR Education Expert for WeddingWire as well as the national Communications and Marketing Director for WIPA

If you’re looking to expand your public relations efforts, professional speaking can be the perfect solution to increasing brand recognition and solidifying yourself as an industry leader. Oftentimes, people get excited and jump headfirst into pitching themselves; however, this can be a mistake if you haven’t put together a strategy ahead of time.

One major piece of your speaking strategy is your platform – it is essential to creating and fine-tuning your topics ahead of the actual pitching process. Ideally, your speaking platform will consist of three or four topics that you are comfortable speaking for at least 45 minutes, but even up to one and a half hours.

meghan-blog-imageSo, what topics should you cover? Good question.

First and foremost, dig deep and ask yourself what subjects you’re equally passionate about and well versed in. If you were standing in a room full of industry peers, would you be comfortable answering everything and anything about your chosen topic? Sit down and map out every topic you can think of, but don’t be too broad. Nobody wants to hear something just about wedding planning – you have to get specific with it. Expect to have a pretty overwhelming list (you do know a lot!), but don’t worry because you’ll be narrowing it down later.

Then, it’s time for research! Look at the places that you want to pitch, whether it’s a local workshop, national conference, association meeting or retreat. Review the speakers who are already booked and what kinds of topics they are covering. Your goal is to offer subject matters that are complementary to what is already there but still offer a unique perspective.

Once you’ve narrowed your topics down to the three or four best options, it’s time to put together your three main components for pitching – a catchy title, a brief description and three or four strong takeaways. Your title should be interesting without being two cutesy, with the description explaining what your speech is all about. Keep it simple at about 75 words or less. As for the takeaways, they should include actionable items that attendees will learn and walk away from your presentation with. Don’t be too anxious about expanding too much in your pitch – you’ll have much more space in your presentation to dive in deep!

As always, test the waters when pitching. If you’re finding that you’re not getting responses, it may be time to pivot your subjects. Topics are meant to evolve. For example, if you’re focusing on technology or social media, you should expect that your content would evolve quite a bit.

Create a marketing piece, like a one-pager, that really showcases you and your topics. As you’re submitting and waiting to hear back, it never hurts to take those topics and write guest articles or blog posts about them. Making efforts to project one’s self as an industry expert can be the difference in a winning pitch!

» Build a Strong Foundation Before You Expand

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Through my many years around the wedding and event industry, I’ve met lots of people who have successfully expanded their businesses, whether it’s to other services, or to other markets. The one common thread is that they already had a successful business with a strong foundation before they expanded. I’ve also run into lots of people who have tried to expand, but failed. Usually they tried too soon, or didn’t do the leg work necessary to successfully branch out.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider business expansion:

It’s a universal challenge

While speaking in India recently, a make-up artist told me that she wanted to expand to many other countries, and she’d like my advice. I loved her enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit. So I asked her what contacts she had in those other countries, and she had none. I asked if she had ever visited those other countries, and she had not. I told her that I appreciated her desire to grow, but that she needed to do some research about those markets first. A few things to learn are how they use make-up services, what the competitive landscape looks like, what the pricing and wedding spending are for services like hers, and other key details that will impact her success.

Are you ready to make the commitment?

Are you thinking of branching out? Countless photographers tell me that they’d love to do destination weddings in exotic places. Why? Probably because they see the photos and posts of other photographers in those places and it looks exciting. Who wouldn’t want to do that? What you don’t see, is all the work that happened leading up to the event. How did they get that wedding? What connections do they have that you don’t? What networking brought them to that connection? Was that their first destination wedding, or their 20th? You have to be prepared to take on new challenges and potentially the required additional time or resources that will affect your business.

It all looks great on social media, but that’s just part of the story

The funny thing about Instagram and Facebook posts is that they typically only show the best successes and worst failures. When you see those beautiful destination wedding images on Instagram or Facebook, you don’t get the back story. Were there any logistical issues, travel issues or safety concerns? It all looks glamorous on the surface, but you don’t hear about the mosquitos, the 16 hour flights, countless hours waiting in airports, hotel issues, or in the case of my recent trip speaking in Mexico, the 10-foot long boa constrictor snake that was outside the venue. Yeah, that’s the less glamorous part of traveling for work that you don’t see, or often hear about.

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» Like, Love or Dislike It: Social Media Matters

social-media-matters-webinarWebinar recap!

It’s challenging to stay on top of the latest social media sites and trends — especially while you are busy running a successful business. However, social media doesn’t need to require lots of time to make a big impact on your client reach.

During this month’s webinar hosted by WeddingWire Chief Marketing Officer Sonny Ganguly, we discussed the ‘big four’ social media sites your clients are loving — and where you need to be active this engagement season. Plus, Sonny shared expert tips to effectively leverage each top social media site to your business advantage.

Here are some of the webinar highlights:

  • Visual sharing on social sites is key. This is part of the reason that Instagram and Snapchat have risen to popularity so quickly! Overall, 3.3 billion photos are shared on top social sites daily. Don’t miss an opportunity to show off your work on a regular basis!
  • Your clients love social media. The majority of today’s engaged couples are Millennials in their twenties and early thirties. 89% consider themselves active on social media and 56% report that they would only consider booking pros they can find on social media.
  • How do they use social while planning their wedding? First, they turn to virtual pinboard site Pinterest to get inspired. Next, they move to Facebook to learn more about vendors they are interested in, and also turn to Instagram to see your aesthetic.
  • They follow the wedding pros they’re interested in. 61% of couples ‘follow’ or ‘like’ the professionals they want to learn more about. Why? Most commonly to get inspiration for their wedding, to see the quality of your work and to get more info about your business.
  • Where should you invest the most of your time? The top four sites to invest your time and connect with your clients today are: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. You can cut back on time on Twitter, Google+ and Tumblr due to a lack of interaction with your clients or general sharing traffic on those sites this year.

For more great social media tips, stats and information about connecting with couples on top social sites, watch the full webinar! Don’t forget that past webinars are available within Premium member’s accounts to view anytime.

» WeddingWire Networking Night NYC

On Monday, October 17th, local wedding professionals gathered at the W New York Union Square for WeddingWire Networking Night NYC!

At the Networking Night, New York City area pros had the opportunity to network with other local professionals across all service categories, meet members of the WeddingWire team, and listen to an educational presentation on social media by WeddingWire’s Associate Director of Customer Success, Kyle Mihalcoe.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the presentation, our lastest issue of WedInsights all about Keeping Up with Today’s Millennial Clients, and photos from the evening below. If you want to continue the conversation with some of the pros you met at the event, check out the WeddingWire Networking Night NYC board in the Pro Forums.

We would like to say a special thank you to the incredible event partners who helped make the evening possible:

We’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack – congrats to Massiel of Butterfly Bakeshop!

exo-photography-51-spaceexo-photography-71-flowerwall Continue reading

» Avoid Being a Wedding Industry “Slasher”

Pro to Pro Insights

Leila Lewis, photo by Valorie Darling PhotographyThis post was written by Leila Lewis of Be Inspired PR. As a business school graduate from Santa Clara University, Leila (Khalil) Lewis’ career began in publishing, where she worked in marketing and editorial roles for business and lifestyle publications. Since transitioning into the wedding business in 2004, Leila has over 10 years of wedding marketing experience under her belt, and is the industry’s go-to for wedding public relations services, brand development and business consulting.

As a business consultant that specializes in collaborating with wedding industry creatives, I am consistently working with different wedding professionals who are trying to kick-off their new business or revamp their old business. Commonly wedding pros that come to me for business help are what I like to call “slashers.”

What is a slasher?

blog-slashers-finalA slasher is someone who offers multiple services and/or products. They may be a wedding photographer, but are also a wedding planner/stationery designer/DJ/caterer. If you’re a creative person, it’s easy to fall into the trap of being a slasher and wanting to offer up a wide variety of your skills and passions to your clients. You’re already in the wedding industry and have an eye for aesthetic, so you decide to take on different hobbies that relate to the industry: calligraphy, baking, floral design, etc. While these skills can help you for all things wedding-related, tacking it on as another tab on your website can confuse your clients and can actually distract your business instead of helping to it grow if you’re not careful.

How can being a slasher affect your business?

You might think that having more service options will increase your amount of business, but that’s not always true.  Often, it can be better to pick your area of expertise, and hone your skills and offerings in that specific area to do it very well.

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» Get Your Ticket for WeddingWire World 2017

www2017-logoTickets are now on sale for the the leading industry conference for wedding pros, WeddingWire World!

We’re excited to announce that based on popular demand, we’re bringing the latest education and top speakers to both the West and East coasts in 2017. WeddingWire World will be held on May 1-2 in Los Angeles, CA and on August 14-15 in Washington, DC.

Pick the location and date that works best for you, and register now to lock in the lowest ticket price that will be offered! Don’t delay – the low introductory rate of just $99 for standard tickets and $199 for VIP tickets is only available until 11/15/16.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Informative Presentations: Learn from industry experts, business leaders and top performing weddings pros to leave with actionable ways to set your business up for more success than ever before.
  • Personalized Education: Enjoy a variety of breakout sessions based on your business needs, and meet with an experienced Customer Success Manager one-on-one for custom account support.
  • New Connections: Meet new friends and connect with friendly colleagues at the event. Come together for daily celebrations and enjoy lots of networking over two fun-filled days.

For more information about WeddingWire World, visit the website and be sure to relive WeddingWire World 2016 by taking a peek at the highlight video. Stay tuned for more details on speakers, agenda and travel accommodations, coming soon! Save your spot>>

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» How to Take Home More Industry Awards

A key way to expand your business and stand out from the competition is through winning industry awards. Whether you’re a new business or a seasoned pro, earning both recent and frequent accolades, collecting stand-out client reviews, and sharing your best work is a pivotal part of your business success.

In our latest infographic, get insights from Education Expert Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting with these six helpful tips to earn more industry awards!


For more information, watch the full webinar! All past webinars are available within your WeddingWire account under the Education tab for Premium members to view on-demand at any time.

» Highlights from Wedding MBA 2016

We had a great time at the Wedding MBA conference 2016 in Las Vegas last week! It was wonderful to connect with thousands of pros from all over the country and beyond, share some great education, and celebrate together throughout the week.

Here are some of our favorite conference highlights:

Lots of Learning

We loved getting to share some business tips, industry insights and education with you. Our team and Education Experts presented 11 times at the event — on a wide variety of topics from tech to social media to websites and more. Stay tuned for our presentations which will be emailed to attendees later this week so you can re-visit the presentations for any notes you may have missed.


Fun at the Lounge

Thank you for stopping by the WeddingWire Lounge to say hello to the team, and grab some fun swag. We met with hundreds of pros to share account advice, set your business up for success on the site, or to collect your product feedback for future updates and improvements. We hope you enjoyed the fun surprises including the t-shirt press, the 360 photobooth and the slot machine prize give away.


Celebrating with Pros

It wasn’t all business and learning — there was plenty of fun and celebrations along the way! It was great to unwind after a full day at the conference Tuesday night and take in some Vegas nightlife and great music at the annual party in Hakkasan Nightclub. Plus, we loved toasting to the end of the conference and sharing all we learned along the way at the conference ending Happy Hour on Wednesday evening following the final session of the day.


Thank you again to our wonderful partners: Jason Jani of SCE Event Group for DJing our party and Happy Hour, DJ Jer Events & Lighting Design for making our Lounge pop, Promovizion for the awesome shades, and Open Air Photobooth for the photobooth fun at the party. Review the photobooth photos here!


For more event take aways and to stay updated on all the latest WeddingWire happenings for pros, be sure to follow WeddingWireEDU on Twitter and Instagram. We hope you see you again next year!

» Soon Your Reviews Will Be Working Harder for You

Soon we are adding a new search and filtering functionality to the reviews on your Storefront. Couples will be able to easily find reviews related for the type of event they are planning. We’ve found through user testing that more relevant reviews can resonate even stronger with potential clients. For example, if they’re planning an outdoor wedding, users can easily select that particular search term to see just the reviews of past clients who had that type of wedding. Similarly, if a user wants to see anytime a particular employee was mentioned and they search by name, all reviews mentioning will display with that search term bolded in each review.


With this new functionality, it’s more important than ever to collect reviews from all your clients to showcase your offering! We automatically ask questions about which services each couple uses after they complete the review to make sure they will be associated with the correct filters.

We make it easy with the WeddingWire Review Collector. Just add your client’s contact information and customize your email. We’ll take care of sending reminder emails on your behalf if they don’t take immediate action. Request reviews »

Don’t forget! Couples’ Choice Awards 2017 is coming soon. The deadline for your reviews to be considered is December 31, 2016. Make sure you ask your clients for reviews today to help boost your chances of winning.

Questions? Visit the Support Center for more information about your account or email support@weddingwire.com at any time

» The Key to Setting Realistic Goals

Pro to Pro Insights

Jennifer Taylor, Taylor'd Events GroupThis post was written by Jennifer Taylor. Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui.

Most of us are familiar with setting goals, whether personal or professional. It could be to cut down on your caffeine habit or it could be to boost your revenue to reach a certain benchmark. Whatever they may be, goals give us direction in life and provide us with a definition of success. Either you’ve met a goal or you haven’t – right?

Now, of all of the goals you have ever set, how many would you say you’ve reached? Don’t be ashamed – we’re all guilty of creating goals and letting them fall by the wayside for a variety of reasons. (Isn’t that the point of New Year’s resolutions?)

Fortunately, there are a few measures we can take to ensure that our goals become a priority rather than an afterthought. Even if you don’t achieve them by your ideal date, any progress is welcome – as long as you are getting closer to the finish line.

Take note

There’s no shame if your best thinking is done in the shower or in bed right before falling asleep – just make sure you write it down! One of the biggest reasons people’s goals go unmet is simply because they haven’t jotted it down in a place they see every day. The process of writing something down ingrains it in your mind and seeing a reminder every day will keep it on the forefront of your mind.

Don’t hide them

Even though your goals may just be for yourself, it always helps to have a support system at your side. Share your goals with friends, family and colleagues so that they’ll keep an eye out if you need an extra boost. Get with your team at the office to discuss everyone’s goals – that way, you can develop an interlaced network of support and, together, you can all push each other to achieve short- and long-term goals for the company.

A reward never hurts

Most people seek validation to a certain extent and operate well under an incentive-based system, so create a reward structure for you and your team. If, for example, you have a personal goal to speak at a local conference, treat yourself to a spa day once you’ve booked it! This works for employees as well – there’s nothing quite as motivating as a paid day off or an all-expenses-paid trip to an industry event.

Now, it’s time to grab a notepad and write down anything that comes to mind! Oftentimes, we hold ourselves back from aiming high simply because we don’t think that we could ever achieve something. Unfortunately, lack of trying is the only surefire way to never reach a goal. Dream big and take those reach goals and break them down into manageable (and actionable) steps – that way, you’ll be able to track your progress and continue to push yourself to the next objective!

» Where to Find WeddingWire at Wedding MBA


Wedding MBA is almost here! We can’t wait to meet pros from around the country attending the educational conference this week in Las Vegas. If you are attending, take a look below to learn where to find us, and about some fun happenings you won’t want to miss.

Learn from Experts:

Start the conference by connecting with the team. Bring your online marketing questions to our Ask the Expert room Monday morning from 9-11:00 AM in the Saguaro room. Throughout the conference, attend exciting and informative sessions from WeddingWire CMO Sonny Ganguly and our Education Experts Alan Berg, Andy Ebon, Meghan Ely & Kathryn Hamm.

Meet the Team:

Visit the WeddingWire Lounge for a one-on-one consultation, collect fun swag, take a picture in the 360 photobooth,  select your favorite style at the t-shirt press, and come back for more surprises each day. Plus, be sure to stop by the WeddingWire family booths — GayWeddings, liveBooks and Newlywish. They would love to meet you too!

Celebrate at the Annual Party:

Mix and mingle at our annual WeddingWire Party! Conference attendees are welcome to join us Tuesday at 9:00 PM at the Ling Ling Club, located above Hakkasan Nightclub in the MGM Grand Las Vegas. Come ready to unwind, dance and enjoy great music!

Toast to New Friends:

After your final day of education on Wednesday, it’s time to celebrate all you have learned! Enjoy drinks, music and networking at the event closing Happy Hour, located in the WeddingWire Lounge starting at 6:00 PM.

Let’s Connect:

Don’t forget to follow @WeddingWireEDU on Instagram and Twitter! We will be posting key takeaways from Education Expert sessions, reminders for important event details, special contest information and more. Plus, we will be sharing some great posts from other conference attendees, so be sure to tag us and #WeddingMBA to be featured.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

» Helpful Tips to Avoid Digital Disasters

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

In today’s world, unfortunately there seem to be many chances for technology-related problem’s to occur – such as password compromise, information loss or spam attacks. While these issues may seem stressful, there are ways you can take simple steps to help avoid them for you and your business.

Here’s an overview of easy ways to help avoid common digital disasters:

Register Your Domain

The foundation of all-things-internet is the domain name. When you register a domain name, there are four functions associated with it.

  • Registrant – Website Owner
  • Administrator – Website Manager
  • Technical – Usually Webmaster
  • Billing – Accounting

Roles may all be held by a single person; however, it’s not recommended. It’s preferable to have at least two people with full control of your domain.

Domains are renewed annually; however, you can register them for more than one year (especially your primary domains).

Your domain registrar (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc.) will notify you, periodically about pending expiration of a domain. The best way to prevent expiration is to link a credit card to the domain and make calendar reminders to check in on its status every so often.

Good news — even if a domain expires, there is 30-day time period to redeem your site and get it back in business.

Pro Tip: Anytime you change webmasters or other personnel on file with your domain registrar, do not forget to update it! Failure to do so can lead to domain problems.

Protect Your Hard Drive

A typical hard drive lasts about three years. The best way to protect your business and personal files and information is to replace it at or before three years to be safe. If you don’t, here are some other pre-emptive measures to keep your business running.

First, it is mandatory to have an external hard drive wired directly to your computer. If the computer has a 500 gigabyte hard drive, it would be wise to have a 1 terabyte external drive.

Second, it is wise to have a wireless backup drive, located in a different part of your home or office. As with the first backup, make sure the capacity is larger than the original computer.

Third, have an external drive backing up by broadband to the cloud. There are several popular products, such as: BackBlaze, Carbonite, and others. This final group is extremely important, especially if you are affected by a disaster such as a fire or flood. There is nothing worse than permanently losing data. Saving key documents securely in the cloud is the best way to make certain it doesn’t happen to you.

Set Strong Passwords

Over the last few years hacking is on the rise. The more obvious hacks are big companies such as Target or Yahoo! among other high profile companies and groups.

Don’t think just because you are a one-person operation that you are somehow immune to such intrusion or danger. Whether talking about email, websites, credit cards or anything else, it’s time to take action and be cautious.

The best methods of self-protection are services such as 1Password.com or LastPass.com. These tools will help you generate different passwords for each of your accounts – which you should update often. With just a little effort, you won’t have the need to use the same password for multiple accounts. Plus, you won’t have to simply rely on commonly known information like the names of your dogs or family members!

Focus on Your SEO

Search Engine Optimization requires daily awareness and upkeep; SEO is not a one-time operation. When you build and launch a website, it will only be the first effort to create search engine optimization for your site. It should be monitored and updated often to establish the best performance for your business.

For those of you who use WordPress for your website or blog, one of the best tools is a plug-in, Yoast SEO. It is one of the simplest devices to recognize and apply good SEO practices – no high level of expertise required!

Protect Your Mobile Phones

The device we use most often is our cellular phone. Every year, companies such as Apple, Samsung and others make new versions of their phones – and they are not cheap — often with new models in the $750 range.

Of all the disasters striking a phone user, the worst is the immediate loss (or theft) of their phone. The shock of such a loss is quite jarring.

The iPhone has a feature (for iPhones, iPads, and computers) called FindMyiPhone. You can track down your phone, shut it off, or otherwise take it out of commission should it become compromised with your personal information accessible.

Remember, There’s No Need for Paranoia!

The best approach for safety is a good defense. Making sure you use these tactics will keep your business thriving, and prepared for unforeseen issues that may arise in the future.