03/27/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

CEO Sighting - Where They Went in 2009

Despite this past year's tough economy, executive scrutiny and limited budgets, top level conferences continue to attract executives from the most respected organizations in the world. Businesses are clearly still hungry for "safe" channels to network with their core customers and disseminate their content.

Today, Weber Shandwick released its annual "Five Star Conference" research - a study examining the top speaking engagements of CEOs and C-level executives from the world's top 50 most admired companies - and found that the global speaker circuit is alive and well. Top-tier business events are not only surviving but thriving. This year, we saw CEO participation at top-tier events nearly double and underscoring this rising trend, other C-level executives (CFOs, CMOs and CIOs) saw a significant increase as well.

Our results highlighted how many of the most admired companies in the world are continuing to use speaking engagements as a key part of their communications strategy to demonstrate leadership strength and competitive differentiation. CEOs are not shying away from the spotlight but rather are using these channels to network and drive growth.

So, where are these top executives popping up?

Some of the usual places such as DAVOS and Clinton Global Initiative made the Top 10 but we also saw some forums you would not necessarily expect, such as the Chief Executive Club of Boston and CECP Board of Board conference. Also, an influx of new events drew a high caliber of both private and public sector officials - specifically, the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit and the National Summit.

One final point to highlight are the topics being discussed at these events. We saw a focus on reinvention - reinvention as defined as how leading brands worked to re-energize their business and reconnect with their core customers. As we look to 2010, we expect the speakers' circuit to continue to expand and expect to see the resurgence of the "extended" executive bench at these top events. We also expect these same companies to continue to manage against this expectation for true reinvention. They'll be at these events to discuss talent, ideas, and brand experiences.

Until next year...