Boost Trade Show ROI with PR 2.0

25 08 2009

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.





Seven Reasons B2Bers Ignore Social Media

12 08 2009

Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn? YouTube? Social media? We don’t need social media … that’s for teenagers and consumer goods … not our kind of business.”

at least that’s what some business-to-business executives seem to think.

If you deal with someone who thinks this way, you might be interested in the following reasons (excuses?) and responses:

1) Social media is just a flash in the pan. Right! Didn’t you say the same thing about the Internet and websites 15 years ago? Now, most workers turn to sites like Google and Wikipedia as their primary information sources. Online use is growing exponentially, and social media are growing three times faster than overall Internet use.

 2) Nobody of any real significance would connect with our company via social media. Customers, prospects, stakeholders and reporters who cover your business aren’t significant? According to Forrester Research, three out of four Americans use social media technology. At least some of your key audiences have to be among them … probably the majority.

3) We only have a few customers, and they already know us. I’ve been hearing this for 20 years. You can never have too many good relationships. There are new people who influence the purchase decision of your customers and they don’t know you or your company. There are also new prospects coming into the marketplace. Social media can help them get to know you… and vice versa.

4) We don’t have the time or money to develop our social media presence. While B2B communication budgets are tight; social media can be rather inexpensive. The real question is: Can you afford to be left out of this emerging space, where millions of conversations (and purchase decisions) are happening daily, 24/7, around the world?

5) Let’s wait and see what our competitors do. Your competitors are already there … or will be soon. The longer you wait, the further behind you’ll be and the more expensive it will be to catch up – if you can at all. Why lose the golden opportunity to boost your image as a leader, early adopter or innovator?

6) We don’t allow our employees to access social media at work. If your IT department is afraid of security risks posed by these channels, some protection is available. If HR is afraid your employees will “waste” company time on social media, you have bigger problems than we can address here.

7) Social media won’t do anything that our traditional channels don’t already do. Most corporate communications channels are one-way – they’re used only to send messages. Social media can help you have real two-way conversations – which can ultimately help you improve your product, enhance your service, build loyalty, collaborate with others, prevent crises, establish your company among thought-leaders and help you to acquire new customers.

If your colleague still isn’t convinced, ask them if they understand the power of good old fashioned word-of-mouth. Most executives would agree that word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful media for new business – especially for professional service firms, business partners and long-term suppliers.

Well, as one wag said: Social media is word-of-mouth on steroids. Enough said?

How are you pitching – or using – social media in your B2B world?





Preparing for Bad News

3 08 2009

People tend to avoid thinking about worst case scenarios, often hoping such situations will never occur or if they do, they will just work themselves out. As communicators, we are going to have to deal with these situations … and we won’t get a second chance. So a little preparation can go a long way.

When bad news happens – and it will happen eventually – you must act quickly to get your message out before someone else seizes control of the information flow. In all likelihood, their message will not be favorable to your organization, and you will be forced into a reactive mode – and fighting an uphill battle.

Here are some of the steps you can take now to prepare your company or organization (whether B2B, B2C or non-profit) for those “bad news” situations:

  • Create “worst case scenarios – craft a list of three to five organization-specific worst case situations. Ask multiple departments or executives (legal, HR, IT) this key question: “What bad news would keep you up at night?”
  • Identify your communications team – define the individuals who need to be alerted when the bad news hits and provide for immediate methods of communication ready to go to reach them such as phone numbers for mobile, home and vacation home, as well as e-mail, text message, etc. Prioritize and remember to alert your organization’s switchboard operator, as they are the gatekeeper to the organization and will receive the majority of the inquiries and will need to route them correctly. Update this information regularly and have it available via multiple formats. 
  • Know your target audiences – understand who your stakeholders are (employees, investors, suppliers, media, etc.) and how to reach them. Maintain lists of key contact information and notes regarding their preferred mode of communication.  
  • Outline your key messages – develop three or four key messages which derive from your company’s mission statement and allow you to fill in blanks with situation-specific information.
  • Establish company resources / document templates– draft skeleton templates of news releases, fact sheets, Q&As, etc. Set up a crisis “dark page” on your web site, a toll free hotline and / or company e-mail address available for rapid response. Engage (now!) in the social media tools, such as Twitter, that can disseminate your message rapidly. (Note: social media will only serve you in a critical situation if you have an established relationship with that mode of communication prior to the situation – so start now!
  • Make the decisions now– have legal review and approve as much of your plan as possible, in advance. Identify a group of potential company spokespeople and media train them for tough situations. Get your executive team onboard with the process ahead of time, and even create a flow chart to expedite the approval process, so that once a situation occurs, you’re ready to roll. 

Remember, while you can’t plan for every crisis situation, you can prepare for most. Each situation will have its own unique challenges, but these tips can help you meet these challenges with a bit more confidence and speed.

What have you done to prepare for the next crisis?

For more tips on preparing for, and dealing with, bad news, click here:  http://www.bianchipr.com/pr-social-media-resources.html.








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