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Landing a Head-Turning Keynote Duo

At PCMA’s Convening Leaders conference, Hillary and Bill Clinton will take the stage together for a moderated conversation aimed at event professionals and hospitality suppliers. Here’s how they were booked and what they’ll discuss.

Of the dozens of educational sessions happening at the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders 2024 conference in San Diego from January 7 to 10, those that are focused on artificial intelligence and on planners’ value and visibility to their executives are especially well represented.

However, the one session that’s likely building serious buzz among the roughly 3,500 planners and suppliers who will be in attendance is the morning keynote session on day two. There, a former U.S. President as well as a former U.S. Secretary of State will sit together and talk about how geopolitical events around the world might affect meetings, conventions, trade shows, and business travel both domestically and internationally. The power duo that will appear on stage at Convening Leaders is Bill and Hillary Clinton.

How PCMA Got Them
Meghan Risch, chief of staff and vice president of corporate communications for PCMA, tells MeetingsNet that when it comes to seeking out keynote presenters for Convening Leaders, "our education team collaborates” with PCMA President and CEO Sherrif Karamat “to identify impactful speakers who can not only build upon current trends and challenges, but who also resonate with our community.”

In this instance, PCMA worked with Harry Walker Agency, an international speakers’ bureau. “Our request was for influential leaders to share their reflections on pivotal moments in history, discuss pressing global issues, and illuminate how important meetings and events are to the free exchange of ideas and to democracy,” says Risch.

The terms of the agreement for the Clintons to speak at PCMA were not disclosed, though the opportunity to be in front of so many corporate, association, and independent event planners who regularly book keynote presenters possibly might have been a factor in their decision to participate. According to the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, the fee for just one of the Clintons to speak at an event can range from $250,000 to $500,000.

The Association Executive’s Perspective
In a recent industry podcast, PCMA’s Karamat notes that “this is going to be an hour-long conversation with a lot of questions for two incredibly talented individuals. The idea [with the session] is to speak to environmental issues, and then we'll ask many questions about the thinking [that’s taking place] around the world today—what the Clintons make of current geopolitics and the impact it might have on the business-event space. We will also be able to see some of see their personal side, and what they've been up to lately.”

“The former president, of course, is never shy in front of a microphone, and certainly is amenable to answering questions and being very open,” Karamat adds. “And in [a recent radio interview], the former secretary of state demonstrated her personality in a more casual manner, and I'm hopeful that much of that will also come through in our session. I think this is going to be highly entertaining and educational" for the in-person attendees of Convening Leaders.

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