Futurists and Speakers Bureaus

In my first blog, I mentioned that several other career fields began around the same time as futurist, and I queried why they might be considered more erudite than futures studies. Why do we never see these professionals referred to (with scare quotes) as “engineer”, or “physicist” or “social scientist”? Initially, my thoughts were that articles using scare quotes would all be negative, but then I realized that sometimes these quotes are used for emphasis, or perhaps because the journalist doesn’t understand that futurist is an actual career field.

One of the fields we use in this Futurists in Media study is whether the article is positive, neutral or negative. I have struggled with this a bit as I’ve been getting acclimated with the process. There have been few articles that I considered to be really negative, but then I had to figure out neutral versus positive. Many of the neutral articles seem positive because the author is really being objective. Of the 862 articles in the study so far, 454 are +/positive; 238 are neutral and 46 are -/negative. I’m not sure how to really analyze these other than numbers. With several people adding to the database, I’m sure we do not all view the articles in the same way, and something I put down as neutral, someone else may have judged to be positive. [Andy’s note: my anecdotal observation is that percentage of negative articles has been steadily going down.

Recently there was an article about the National Speaker’s Bureau. So I thought it would be interesting to see how many are members of the APF (Association of Professional Futurists). Of the 69 speakers in Technology and Future, there were only two: Glen Hiemstra and Rebecca Ryan (0.029% of APF members).

This got me thinking about other speakers bureaus — a sample of the front page revealed:

  • Big Speak – I went through 176 (about half) of the available speakers and four are APF members (Lisa Bodell, Glen Hiemstra, Rebecca Ryan, Thomas Frey) (0.023%)
  • Premier Speakers Bureau – Of the 64 in the category of futurist, three (David Smith, Lisa Bodell, Joel Barker) are APF members. (0.047%)
  • American Speakers Bureau – lists three futurists, none of whom are in the APF.
  • And lastly I went through the Washington Speakers Bureau, which has 46 futurists. The delightfully ubiquitous Lisa Bodell is the sole APF member. (0.022%)

How do we either get more APF members in the news, or get more professional futurists to become members of APF? Should we invite the more prolific speakers to apply? If so, how do we vet their bona fides before inviting them? Should we ask APF members of various speakers bureaus to include in their speaker’s bio that they have APF membership? Do we start providing swag to inspire new members to join?  So, happy hunting to everyone, go out there and make us proud. — Lloyd Chesley

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment