Earning media coverage at a trade show is hard work. Getting that meeting with a journalist or industry analyst is critical.
While finding new business opportunities is almost always the most visible goal for a trade show, garnering “more than your fair share” of publicity at the show and enhancing your relationships with journalists and industry analysts can significantly increase the return on your trade show investment.
With their keynote speeches by industry notables and large number of product introductions, trade shows attract media and industry analyst attendees. Knowing the value of these attendees, show management creates a program for media attendees that includes services such as special media registration, meeting rooms, press kit distribution and appointment scheduling. Media attendees are typically overwhelmed with meeting requests from exhibitors who want to tell their story.
Trade shows can play a huge role in your PR program, not only in gaining exposure (coverage) at an industry event, but perhaps more importantly, extending your relationships with the media and analyst community. It is a great opportunity to introduce your company executives who are attending the show to the media and provide a more interesting interview for a journalist
The key, of course, is preparation. There are a huge number of tasks to be completed – pitches, media kits, press releases, booth materials and arranging meetings with the media. This last activity is by far the most important and the most difficult. Given the overwhelming number of requests for meetings, it is your job to provide a compelling reason why the journalist should meet with you.
Show management will frequently provide pre-registration lists of all media and analysts attendees to exhibitors. Step one is selecting the media attendees you would like to meet. Certainly, those who you already have a relationship with are no brainers. As an alternative, attendees from your target publications are good choices.
Once you have your list, creating a pitch that will interest these busy people is your next task. One tip here. The media is there to cover the news – i.e. what’s new about the industry as observed by what’s going on at the show. Your meeting pitch should focus on how your news fits into an industry context. They certainly need to understand what your company does and what you are announcing at the show. However, they are not there to hear you brag about yourself. They are much more interested in industry trends, company strategies and insights you may have on what is “new and interesting” at the show. The more industry context you can provide the journalist, the more likely you gain the meeting and be included in their coverage of the show.
With this approach, you will hopefully gain all the meetings you can handle. In a future post, I’ll provide some ideas on how to “work the press” at the show and cover the all important follow-up.