With summer coming to a close, trade show season is ramping up. But just exhibiting at a trade show doesn’t guarantee you visits by trade press or ensure you media coverage. You have to work it … intelligently and strategically.
Some companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more!) to design, build, ship, set up and staff a trade show booth … and then do absolutely nothing to bring media to that booth. Why not help your company maximize the return on its trade show investment by mixing in a little high-powered PR 2.0 magic?
Think about it. You have your best products on display. You have your technical experts and top executives on hand, perhaps some from overseas. You have sharpened your messaging. You have created a unique booth experience for your customers and prospects. Why not add the media?
Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to:
- Invite the press into your exhibit, engage them in interviews and demonstrations, and have them help you reinforce your message … with stories that will appear online or in a magazine or a newspaper long after the show is over?
- Extend the reach and frequency of your brand messages to the thousands of customers and prospects who couldn’t attend the show?
- Earn media coverage that supports and adds credibility to your advertising and new media promotions?
- Validate your prospects’ and customers’ enthusiasm for your company, as they read about your products in a publication, blog or media outlet they trust and respect?
PR support at a trade show simply – and inexpensively – helps maximize your program’s return on investment. And best of all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it. Here are some basics:
1. Reach out to media before the show, sharing what you’ll be offering at the event – products, demonstrations, experts and executives available for interviews – and insights/perspectives on industry trends or issues your people can address. Show management will often share the list of media registrants with exhibitors; use it!
2. Follow-up with key reporters and bloggers a week or two before the show to lock-in interviews or demonstration appointments. Don’t forget local business or news service bureau reporters who may not have registered yet. One Associated Press reporter visit can generate hundreds of story placements;
3. Prepare press materials, including video demonstrations, product images, fact sheets, FAQs and news releases, and save on flash drives that can be distributed electronically or from your booth (so you can meet reporters face-to-face);
4. Create a micro-site on the Web and promote it to media and customers to make all of your press materials, videos, etc. easily accessible;
5. Conduct media training (or a refresher) for your key spokespeople to maximize the value of media interactions and prevent snafus;
6. “Troll” the exhibit floor and hallways during the show to engage and pitch reporters on the spot (without encroaching upon their refuge, the media center, of course!). Standing around hoping you’ll see some media doesn’t cut it; keep moving to meet more media head-on.
7. Post news and/or updates live from the show floor via Twitter, other social media platforms and your company website (you might even want to survey visitors about industry issues and announce the results each day); and
8. Follow-up with media after the show, making sure their questions are answered and their photo/video needs are handled. Continue to drive them to your micro-site for additional content captured at, and after, the show itself. Make yourself a resource to the new media friends you’ve made.
By integrating some PR 2.0 techniques and a little extra energy into your mix, your trade show appearance can keep generating earned media and interview opportunities for months to come. And that can translate into BIG ROI.
Let us know what PR tactics have worked for you at a trade show.