Friday, November 28, 2008

Speech! Speech! But Could You Please Cut the Price?

By MOTOKO RICH writing in The New York Times, November 26, 2008

Pic Al Gore, Getty Images, NYT.
Talk is cheap, they say, but these days some people are hoping it will become even cheaper.
For decades high-profile figures from areas like politics and the electronic and print news media have been able to augment their earnings with a steady stream of well-paid speaking engagements before university audiences, corporate gatherings and other groups. Some of the speakers, including best-selling authors, have come to rely on such fees as a significant part of their income. But with a host of industries that regularly book speakers for conferences and motivational meetings now facing dire economic conditions, budgets for speaking engagements are being examined, and, increasingly, less expensive alternatives are being sought.
In the past few weeks agents at American Program Bureau, which represents authors, entertainers, politicians and others who make the lucrative rounds of the speaking circuit, have received several calls from organizations looking to book someone to speak about the environment.
“They all say, ‘Can you get us Al Gore?’ ” said Robert Walker, founder and chief executive. His agency doesn’t represent the former vice president, but Mr. Walker said that when his agents pointed out what kind of fees Mr. Gore tends to receive, none of the organizations could afford such sums in this economic climate.
So the agents recommended others on their client roster, including John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA, and Summer Rayne Oakes, a board member and occasional correspondent on the Planet Green network. “She’s not even a quarter of the price of someone like Gore, but she has a lot to say,” Mr. Walker said.
Read Motoko Rich's full piece at the NYT online.

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