Guest spot invitations are often a welcome way to promote your work
I do a lot of guest speaking spots on podcasts, lives, and webinars. It is part of how we all publicise what we do today.
Recently I got invited to do a talk. It was for a mastermind group designed to be live and recorded for replay. It was for an existing affiliate, so the use of my material is already covered in our affiliate agreement. This sort of thing has always been part of how we support our affiliates.
Like all efficient hosts, they sent me an agreement of their own to sign. Naturally, I had a quick look at it to see if it conflicted with the agreement we already had.
I did what I always do and searched for words like:
These are not the only words I search for when looking at an agreement but these are always the first words I look for when I am doing something that may be recorded.
The short agreement they sent for me to sign did the following things. It:
- assigned them the copyright in that session. Copyright means if I want to use any of my own material again I’d need their permission and they could even charge me.
- gave them the right to unlimited edits without coming back to me. That could mean they could edit my material to make it mean something I never intended but it could still go out in my name.
- gave them the right to extract elements and use them elsewhere (with no limitations on what)
- gave them the right to use and share the material and even charge other people for it without coming back to me for permission (or letting me make a little money too).
So, for a short publicity slot, I was being asked to sign away the right to use my own material and give them the right to do whatever they wanted.
Needless to say, we had a friendly chat and that is not the arrangement we are going forward with.
Why do event hosts send out contracts like this for guest spots?
Event hosts are always advised to have contracts that give them the right to use the material you are sharing at their events. This makes sense because the person creating the content owns all the rights in it and the host needs permission to use and share your content.
But the typical clauses we see go way beyond this.
I don’t think event hosts are intending to do terrible things to you. I think they mostly cut and paste what everyone uses and don’t really understand what they are asking you to sign.
What should you do if you want to use a guest spot?
You should really have your own agreement that deals specifically with things like this. And a lot more besides, from who is publicising what, to whether you are including books or material.
You will find that many event organisers and hosts have no agreements whatsoever. Remember it is your job to protect your business and keep control of your business assets including any IP you may own.
If the host has no agreement use yours. It saves a lot of time and hassle later.
What if your agreements don’t agree?
If you have got your own arrangements set out in black and white, it is easy enough to cross read the two and see where they differ.
If you are not happy with what is being asked of you do not sign it. Have a friendly conversation and share your version of what you will agree to.
Most of the time it is easy enough to have that conversation. Your event host probably doesn’t understand much about this either and is happy enough to agree on something that works for both of you.
Does it matter if this is a paid or a free guest spot?
The default situation remains the same. It does not matter whether you are speaking for free or being paid. The law does not vary. But we all know the commercial reality varies a great deal.
What is the organiser paying for?
If you are being well paid to create and deliver unique content for a corporate client you need to be clear in your original pitch whether you are including or excluding the right to record, replay, edit or reuse. In general, the more your charge and the more unique the project the more likely it is these things may be included.
But big corporates often issue you with contracts written in such a way that you are effectively giving them all your life’s work in exchange for a single booking! Be very careful you do not agree to assign so much that you can no longer trade as you lost the rights to all your material. We see contracts like this on a regular basis!
Does an unpaid guest spot matter?
You may want your free talk to be as widely circulated as possible in order to help promote your book or programme or business.
But you may not want it to be randomly edited by people who don’t get what you are saying or trying to achieve.
And you definitely don’t want to sign away rights in your work for a promise of a wide distribution or a large audience that never materialises. Nor do you want to sign away rights that mean you can’t use your own material in other ways later on.
What about paid appearances?
You may choose to assign some rights in any material you have prepared for clients who have paid you for unique content. But you should never sign away the rights to the material you are going to need to use again. It is so easy to get excited that someone actually wants to pay you that we forget to read the small print and work out exactly what we are paying for.
Have a proper agreement for guest spots and a lot more
Your free appearances are only worthwhile if they are part of a bigger marketing campaign. Never forget you are not appearing for free, you are sharing something of yours in exchange for something from them. And you may want to share it again! It’s not much of a publicity campaign if you can only make one appearance.
Have a look at our presenter terms agreement – it comes in two formats – online only – if you only do your speaking and guesting online and ‘in the room’ if you aim to get back in the room but need to do some online as well.
Find out more about our online and in the room presenter agreements here