Previous page

OpenSSL Heartbleed Update
by Ryan McGeary on


Last week was tricky for any web service that used a version of the OpenSSL library vulnerable to CVE-2014-0160. The Heartbleed SSL vulnerability shocked the world and was probably the Internet’s worst wide-spread security flaw to date.

BusyConf’s Response to Heartbleed

BusyConf was using a version of OpenSSL that was vulnerable to Heartbleed at the time of the announcement. The affected systems at BusyConf were protected immediately with mitigation steps and later patched with new SSL keys and certificates deployed as soon as it was safe to do so.

  • April 7, 2014 10:24 UTC: BusyConf learned of Heartbleed vulnerability affecting all OpenSSL v1.0.1a-f installations.
  • April 8, 2014 01:31 UTC: Our hosting provider (Heroku/AWS) recognized and started to implement mitigation steps to recognize and block the exploit vector exposed by Heartbleed. This helped prevent attacks until further security measures could take place.
  • April 8, 2014 11:30 UTC: BusyConf requested re-issuance of our SSL certificate. SSL Certificate authorities were overwhelmed with requests and set expectations for delays.
  • April 8, 2014 14:20 UTC: All of our hosting provider’s SSL endpoints were fully patched to protect against the exploit.
  • April 9, 2014 12:12 UTC: BusyConf received our new SSL certificate from the certificate authority.
  • April 9, 2014 13:45 UTC: BusyConf deployed our new SSL key and certificate to all servers closing all known vulnerabilities originally exposed by Heartbleed.

When each of our third party service providers announced that they also patched the vulnerabiliity, just to be safe, BusyConf also changed all relevant passwords and rolled all relevant API keys with each service provider.

What You Should Do as an Event Organizer

While we have no evidence that the exploit affected any of our customer’s data, to be safe, we recommend that customers update passwords with all secure services that they use, including BusyConf. We recommend that everyone change their BusyConf management passwords.

What You Should Do as a Conference Attendee

Because attendees do not store passwords with BusyConf, no action is necessary for any attendees of conferences that use BusyConf to help manage their events.

It’s worth noting that sensitive credit card information is never passed to BusyConf’s servers. All sensitive data is passed directly to our payment processor. This helps us ensure the highest levels of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard to keep your information as safe as possible.

We use several third party services to help manage the BusyConf platform. They all have also made official Heartbleed announcements:

How to Find Speakers for Your Event: 12 Actionable Tips
by Ryan McGeary on

Tight Bugdet

Planning your event can be stressful. Coordinating the budget, finding the venue and hiring an expert speaker are all important in the planning process.

If you are planning a conference soon, you may need to find guest speakers. Here are some resources to help you find the perfect speaker for your next event.

1. Surf through your LinkedIn network contacts.

There is no shortage of professionals on this site, which is one of the most popular social networking sites online. Review profiles, participate in groups and read the content of your contacts to identify potential speakers for your next upcoming event. These professionals are often more than willing to consider speaking engagements.

2. Use the National Speakers Association website for professional speakers.

This organization trains professional speakers and can connect you with professionals who specialize in public speaking. Booking a speaker can be done through their published directory. There are also local chapters of the National Speakers Association.

3. Speaker Match is another great resource for finding speakers.

This site allows you to post a request for a speaker at your upcoming event. The site has thousands of speakers with completed profiles online for you to reach out to for your next event.

4. Look for certified speakers from leading organizations.

Organizations like Toastmasters, Certified Speakers Organizations and similar groups provide advanced certification training to their members. Consider learning more about local chapters in your area and look for available speakers.

5. Issue a call for proposals.

A call for proposals, also known as a call for abstracts, gives potential speakers the chance to directly submit their ideas for talks. This gives you a large pool of qualified speakers interested in speaking at your event. You can then assemble a review panel to review the proposals that are submitted.

Our tool, BusyConf allows organizers to set up a call for proposals and start receiving speaker proposals in less than 15 minutes.

Once speaker proposals are in, you can start rating and reviewing them to choose the best.

Call for proposals

6. Reach out to your local Chamber of Commerce.

Business owners join these organizations to increase visibility for their brand or business in their area. The chamber may be another resources worth tapping into for your event.

7. Check niche professional organizations.

Regardless of the industry you are in, any professionals join industry organizations to build on their expertise. Members ofthese organizations often join these groups to take their careers to new heights, and are always looking for new opportunities, such as speaking at your event. Connect with these organizations to find knowledgable speakers.

These organizations sometimes use LinkedIn Groups to organize.

8. Use industry publications, both online and offline.

Guest bloggers are often looking for opportunities to expand their web presence and establish a reputation as an expert in a field. These guest bloggers showcase their expertise in their work. Sending an inquiry letter to a contributor may be an opportunity for you to connect with a speaker.

Use BuzzSumo to find influential publications in your industry and reach out to them.

9. Participate in online forums.

Forums are online communities designed to help people get information. In participating in these forums, you not only get the chance to learn and have questions answered, you also get more an opportunity to identify a potential speaker for your upcoming event.

Use Forum Finder to find forums in your industry to participate in.

10. Check your local university.

These institutions are often the first point of contact for finding an expert to weigh in on a subject or new study. Professors can also be ideal guest speakers in that they are skilled communicators and educators.

Many universities have a speakers bureau that connect conference and event organizers like you with professionals interested in speaking opportunities.

11. Look to nonprofits in your area.

Leaders in these organizations are often very active in the community and are comfortable speaking in front of audiences. Consider a local nonprofit as a potential resource for a speaker. This can also be a chance to add a chartiable component to your event.

12. Use your own network.

Your friends or colleagues may have recently attended a conference or community event. They may be able to refer you to a guest speaker that they have personally seen in action. This would be a great approach in that your referrer can tell you firsthand how they felt as an audience member at that event.

Once you have great speakers lined up for your event, check out our blog post on essential conference planning tips - speakers.

7 Essential Conference Planning Tips: Speakers
by Osman Sheikh on

Tight Bugdet

1. Use Speakers to Promote Your Conference.

Conference speakers usually have a following in their field of expertise. This is a chance for you as a conference organizer to promote your conference. The easiest way to do this is to simply ask speakers to publish information about the event on their social media pages.

Publishing your speaker list on your website is also a simple method of promoting your conference through your speakers.

If you are using BusyConf’s conference management system, make sure attendees know that they can link directly to their session within the conference agenda. Here’s an example:

By empowering speakers to promote their own sessions, you also help them promote your conference. This also helps conference attendees engage with speakers before and after the event.

2. Organize a Conference with Multiple Tracks

If your event includes a mix of sessions on different topics, or sessions targeted at different skill levels, then organizing a multitrack conference might be a good idea.

Multi-track conferences allow you to have more speakers and give attendees more options as to what sessions to attend. Event engagement is also increased when attendees have the option of attending the session most relevant to them.

Another benefit of organizing a conference with multiple tracks is that your conference can provide a greater level of expertise.

Instead of having a single track on one broad topic, your conference can include multiple tracks that are more in-depth. For technical and academic conference, having relevant and in-depth sessions is a must.

3. Know What Equipment Speakers Need

One issue that a lot of events have to deal with is not having equipment that is compatible with speaker’s computers. Avoid the last minute scramble for cables or software by asking speakers what equipment and software they will need for their talks. You can do this by emailing speakers, asking speakers to fill out a survey, or by adding a custom form to BusyConf’s speaker proposal pages. Different venues have different audio/visual equipment, so ensure that your speakers know how their slides will be presented.

4. Appreciate Your Speakers

Speakers can make or break your event.

Whether your conference has good speakers or bad speakers, people will decide if your event is worthy of attending based on your speaker list.

Planning an event is hard work, and so is speaking in front of a large audience. These are all reasons why you should appreciate your speakers.

Appreciating your speakers simply means acknowledging their contributions to your event and having respect for their time.

While giving speakers free tickets for their colleagues, and reimbursing travel costs are common and expected ways of acknowledging speakers, another idea for showing speakers your appreciation is organizing a pre-conference meet up for speakers. This allows speakers to network with each other and even give each other tips for their presentations. At the conference, try and give speakers a great introduction to help them give their talk a good start.

5. Organize a Review Committee for Speaker Submissions

Handling a large number of incoming speaker proposals can get overwhelming, especially if you are using email or surveys to college session proposals.

To organize speaker proposals, use an abstract management tool like BusyConf to collect, rate, and review speaker proposals.

For larger conferences, try inviting reviewers with domain knowledge to help review speaker proposals and abstract submissions.

With BusyConf, you can invite reviewers and collaborate with them to choose the best speakers for your conference. Domain knowledge helps reviewers choose submissions based on their relevance to the conference’s topic.

6. Collect Speaker Information Early

As the conference planning process continues, you will eventually need speaker information and materials such as head shots, biographies, website links, and social media profiles.

Trying to get in contact with speakers at the last minute to collect this sort of information is a hassle, and a lot of the time, speakers are too busy to gather and send it to you.

Collecting speaker information and collateral early helps you with critical conference planning tasks such as creating a conference agenda and website.

You can follow up with accepted speakers to request collateral from them via email attachments, or use a conference speaker management tool to collect this information as speakers submit their talk proposals and abstracts. Collecting information such as job title, honors, company, website, and social media links is essential.

7. Help Speakers Succeed

While seasoned and professional speakers should have no trouble delivering a high quality presentation in front of a large audience, public speaking is still a daunting task for others.

Before the conference, send speakers resources such as videos or articles on becoming a great public speaker. They will appreciate this and your conference will benefit from better speakers.

Other options for ensuring the success of your speakers include sending speakers presentation templates or information about the conference attendees.

Event Marketing Best Practices
by Ryan McGeary on

Big Event Sign

Event marketing is one method for promoting products and services. By following a few best practices, a company can organize an event with a successful return on investment. The point of event marketing is to bring the right people together who want to hear your company messages. This ensures that the event leads to future sales.

1. Determine the Business Goal

When planning an event, it’s important to know what you want the outcome to be. High attendance can no longer be the main goal. Instead, companies need to aim for a smaller, but targeted audience. You know who your target market is after you decide on the topic and program for the event.

2. Market the Event

The only way to get the right audience is with advertising and marketing about 40 to 60 days before the event. Direct mail works well for those you know, but social media helps you to attract others who fit your profile of the ideal customer. You have to announce the upcoming event in press releases, through Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and with emails. Using social media is a good way to being talking to attendees about the event. Another way to advertise is by contacting influential bloggersand other social media experts who write about your industry. Inviting these people to the event will ensure coverage on popular blogs.

3. Focus on Engagement

At the event, the focus should be on engaging with people on a personal level. The event allows for face-to-face meetings with customers and prospects. Connection, engagement and interaction are the best ways to achieve your event goals. One new trend in event marketing is having current customers share their experiences with potential customers. These peer-to-peer conversations have more meaning for prospects than receiving messages from the company itself. The trick is recruiting customers willing to share their positive experiences with people at events. Another important part of engagement is having the sales people at the event to answer questions, qualify leads, and sell the company’s products and services.

4. Following-up After the Event

It’s important to contact attendees after the event via emails, phone calls or any other communication methods you feel are appropriate. It’s also vital to continue the conversations about products and services using social media. Companies need to stay in touch with event attendees to increase sales. During follow-up conversations you need to make it clear that you are available to help with purchases.

Event planning, whether it’s a convention, conference, or trade show, is an effective way to meet with prospects, talk about company products or services, and find qualified leads. Although marketing is essential for a successful event, it takes place before, during, and, especially, after the event. It’s is no longer just about advertising an event to get a huge crowd. It’s now about the benefits an event offers a target audience in order to achieve goals.

Why You Should Choose an Event Planner
by Ryan McGeary on


Planning an event whether it is organizing for a conference, seminar or trade show involves many hours and varying degrees of skillsets to get the job done successfully. Attempting to put together an event without the necessary skills, time and resources, can cause the total cost of your event to go over-budget. Hiring a professional event planner will leave you with peace of mind knowing that the event will be highly organized and well run.


If your event will feature speakers, they will need equipment to enhance their presentations. The list of available equipment is numerous and setting up the equipment will be difficult if you are not familiar with them. Planners can reach out to vendors and technicians they work with to arrange for such things as hand and table microphones, projectors, video recorders, dimming lighting systems and PA systems. If your event has teleconferencing options, they can organize the necessary communication links.

Dining and Catering

It’s important to work closely with your caterer so they know what your plans are for the event.The caterer will be familiar with the location of the event and can plan an organized seating arrangement and layout of the food. Chairs, tables, tablecloths, dishes and cutlery can all be taken care of by the caterer, relieving you of all those stressful decisions. Dietary needs will need to be taken care for vegetarian guests, and food allergies will need to be taken into consideration when planning the menu.

Overnight Guests

If you are planning a multi-day conference or trade show, out of town guests will need a place to stay. An event planner can arrange accommodations with local hotels or student housing at nearby campuses. Planners are experienced in negotiating special rates for your attendees and can block off rooms at hotels to ensure that no one is left without somewhere to stay. They can also organize transportation of guests to and from the event, especially if they are unfamiliar with the transportation options in your area.


Event planners are very detail oriented and live by their to-do lists. They can draw on their networking system and call upon contractors, vendors and suppliers to make your event successful. And most importantly, your guests will have a better event experience overall.



4 Great Event Marketing Ideas Using Social Media
by Ryan McGeary on

Gone Viral Sign

In today’s digital world, there’s no better means of marketing than the internet. From webpage advertising to banners in apps, the internet has revolutionized the way we get word about new ideas, products and events. One of the best ways to market via the Internet is social media. If you are running an event or show that you need to spread the word about, social media can be a great outlet to reach people and fast. (Users of social media essentially do the marketing for you with a click of the share button and it’s free, too!) If you want to learn more about marketing your event on social media, then check out the list below. It contains 4 great ways to harness social media platforms in order to promote your event.

1. Use photo and video sharing apps to give a sneak peek.

Some of the most popular social media sites today are photo and video sharing apps like Instagram and Vine. Instagram, owned by Facebook, allows you to share photos and videos with friends who follow you, and Vine, owned by Twitter, allows you to share videos with friends. Both Instagram and Vine are a great way to build excitement about your event by sharing visual sneak peaks of what attendees can expect. Show a clip of speakers rehearsing or photos of the decoration and setup. Giving potential attendees a glimpse into what they might get if they come will make them even more motivated to show up.

2. Tweet with your own hashtag.

Long before your event, create a specific Twitter hashtag for it. Include the hashtag in marketing materials and original promotional material, and you can start generating buzz around Twitter about it. Tweet regularly about the event with the hashtag, and people will start checking Twitter to get updates and learn more. Retweets and favorites on Twitter can also help spread the word to more people as friends of those tweeting find out about your event.

3. Use LinkedIn

Particularly if you’re hosting a corporate or professional event (or an online webinar), LinkedIn can be a great resource for spreading the word about an event. Experts suggest posting event details and a link to RSVP on your company’s page. Then, people that check your company’s page can find out about the event or choose to come, or they can share it with people they’re connected to who they think will find relevant. You can also share info about the event with related groups on LinkedIn; they are groups of professionals with common interests, and will most likely all be drawn to the same event.


It might not be as popular as Facebook or Twitter, but is a great way to promote an event especially because everyone who is on it is looking for things to do and people to meet. Connect with pre-existing groups of people and communities on Meetup, and share your relevant event with them. Chances are they will be interested in going, and many times you’ll be able to entice an entire group that knows or attends events together.


Creating a Sponsorship Prospectus for Your Event
by Osman Sheikh on

Sponsorship Prospectus

Congratulations. Your event just went from being an idea to a real thing. You have a planning committee set up, maybe a few speakers and activities in mind, and a general overview of what you want your event to be.

You start looking into venues, equipment rentals, tools you need to plan your event, event marketing costs, and the dozens of other costs involved with planning an event.

You come to a realization: you need sponsors.

Sure, you can cut costs and go lean, maybe skip a few unnecessary items, but the reality is, most people are bombarded with a variety of different events they can attend. To put on a quality event that is worth attending, you need a sizable budget, and one of the most common sources of funding for events is sponsorship revenue.

What is a sponsorship prospectus?

The first step to courting sponsors for your event is to create a sponsorship prospectus, also known as a conference concept document.

The purpose of a sponsorship prospectus is to effectively communicate the value of sponsoring you event.

For sponsors, the value of sponsoring your event can come in the form of more customers, increased brand awareness, and/or an increase in community engagement. A potential sponsor’s goal when reading your sponsorship prospectus is to gauge whether your audience is relevant, large, and active enough to invest in it.

Having a good sponsorship prospectus is essential for any event trying to find sponsors.

Getting started

The first page of your sponsorship prospectus should be a high level overview of your event with metrics on the event and the demographics of its attendees.

The statistics you should include depends on whether or not this is the first year the event has been held. If your event recurs annually, then you can use statistics from past events. The number of attendees, and demographics of those attendees, such as careers, age, education level, and geographic location, should be considered.

Metrics about the event, or the organization or team behind the event, are also important. Metrics that potential sponsors may be interested in include social media activity surrounding the event and the social media reach or popularity of the event organizers.

Use graphs and charts to communicate these metrics visually.

Showing off your event

The next page consists of the qualitative aspects of the event – how long the event has been running, the format of the event, topics covered, the target market of the event, and more information or short biographies of the event organizers.

It is important to frame the event description to appeal to sponsors. Show sponsors the opportunities they have to reach a certain demographic or target market, to influence a community, or be a part of something big.

It is also recommended that you include pictures of past events.

Closing sponsors

The final few pages of your sponsorship prospectus should communicate specific sponsorship information such as sponsorship levels and slots, along with pricing.

You can use sponsorship tiers, such as bronze, silver, and gold, where each tier includes a certain amount of sponsorship perks, such as free tickets, sponsor logos on banners, or sponsoring an after party.

Alternatively, you can present this information as à la carte sponsorship slots, where each sponsorship opportunity is sold separately. For example, sponsoring a talk would cost a certain amount, while sponsoring a drink-up would cost more. Having sponsorship slots allows sponsors to choose which aspects of the event they want to sponsor and allows the event organizers to have more sponsors.

Remember that the sponsorship prospectus is effectively a sales pitch, so it is important to include the reach of each sponsorship level or slot. For a sponsorship slot on the event website, this might be the number of visits the website receives.

Finishing touches

After editing, reviewing, and maybe a few changes, your sponsorship prospectus is done. Except for one thing.

Sponsors need a way to pay you. You can have sponsors send a check by mail, or use event management software like BusyConf to sell sponsorships online.

P.S: If you’re looking for a way to make your event better and increase sponsorship revenue at the same time, BusyConf’s mobile event schedules have a banner that you can sell as a sponsorship slot. Contact us for more information at .

How to Promote Your Event on Your Business Blog
by Ryan McGeary on


When you’re caught up in paying for advertising, handling your social network accounts, and setting up an event, some marketing channels get overlooked. Don’t forget about the on-site marketing tools you have, such as your business blog. When an interested party finds out about your event and wants more information than a tweet or Facebook update provides, they head to your website. If you aren’t sure how to effectively promote your event through your business blog, use a few of these pointers to get you on your way.

1. Provide frequent updates on your event. Write about topics such as the latest speakers you have lined up, the event venue, important registration dates and reminders, behind the scenes information, and related topics. Mix up the topics and space the posts out so you have a steady stream of content directly relating to your event. You don’t want to post three updates at once, then go a few days without anything at all.

2. Invite your readers to commentand give their input on your event. Use a blogging script that makes it easy for readers to give you feedback. You may be surprised at how useful the comments are, especially in fixing problems you may have overlooked when you’re in the middle of organizing your event.

3. Build authority for your event by posting about related industry news and developments. You want to give your readers a reason to trust that your event is worthwhile, so setting yourself up as an authority figure in the field is important. Talk about current events and the movers and shakers in your industry. This also gives you content not directly related to your event, so you build a long term following on your business blog.

4. Set your business blog up so it auto-posts to social networks with each blog post. This not only automates the process, but also gives you more content to work with on your social networking sites so you’re killing two birds with one stone. If you’re using a popular blogging script such as WordPress, you have several plugins available that take care of this need. You may need a third-party app or custom solution if you’re using a different type of content management system.

Don’t let your business blog languish when you’re preparing for an event. Give your readers the information they need about the event, and provide sticky and relevant industry content so they build trust in you and are likely to have multiple visits to your site.

5 Ways to Plan an Event on a Tight Budget
by Ryan McGeary on

Tight Bugdet

Although we all dream about planning events with a huge budget to work with, that’s rarely going to be the case. Occasionally, there is only a limited budget available, and as such, we must make the best of what is at our disposal.

Here are 5 ways in which to plan an event on a tight budget.

1. Establish the event type and then select the venue.

When it comes to choice of venue, you should stick very closely to your overall budget. The venue may well be your greatest expense, and therefore, you should make the final decision early within the planning process.

2. Do not be afraid to negotiate.

The art of negotiation is an integral part of your overall itinerary when you are planning an event. Never be afraid to try to negotiate, because the worst case scenario would be a simple “no.” Vendors tend to prefer working with clients who prove to be honest about their budget at the outset, so be upfront with them and do not shy away from full budget disclosure. It’s also possible that you might be able to avail lower rates with the site vendor by offering to advertise the venue during the actual event.

3. Seek the assistance an event planning expert.

By seeking the help of a colleague or a team that plans events professionally, you may be able to benefit from prices that would not have been available to you otherwise. After all, this could be their particular area of expertise, and they may well be familiar with vendors and other professionals who are able to provide goods and services that are within your pricing structure.

4. Utilize the resources you have to hand.

Using your team’s skills can be key to success. If you are unable to afford a professional event planner, do not shy away from soliciting help from fellow friends and co-workers. There’s a lot of work involved in planning an event, so requesting help from your team can prove to be particularly 5.

beneficial. Advertising your event through social media.

When appropriate, use social media to spread the word about your event. Use Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn to gain free advertising. If your company has a list of subscribers, send out an email about your event. The more the word gets out there, the less pressure there will be on dealing with other marketing initiatives. Get inventive by using resources like Microsoft Office (PowerPoint, Publisher, or Word) in order to create flyers and invitations. Alternatively, outsource this to a local printing company that will offer to work within the confines of your budget.


When planning an event on a tight budget, the key to success is to stick rigidly to the account, and try to utilize any help which is freely available to you. Do not be afraid to negotiate on price, and consider hiring an expert event planner. Expert event planners may be costly, but they will radically cut your workload and may even save money overall.

Previous page

Next page

Page 2 of 7

Subscribe to the Hallway Track

All Tags

ticket registration (4) event marketing (21) social media (14) event planning (39) partners (2) press (10) attendees (7) finances (6) interns (6) updates (1) speakers (8) business (5) sponsors (3) event scheduling (1) activities (1)

Recent Articles