Is your company planning to get a booth at a popular industry tradeshow to show its latest innovations? Do you want to stretch your tradeshow investment and magnify your company’s brand awareness during the event?
If you answered yes, then PR is the perfect weapon in your marketing arsenal to launch before, during and after the tradeshow.
Remember, one important sub-segment of the people attending an annual tradeshow is the media. Journalists and bloggers regularly comb tradeshows to learn about technology advances to share with their audience, and to get the scoop about how existing technologies are evolving to address new markets and needs.
The trick to getting your brand more attention than the competition is to make it easy for the media to find you, understand your value proposition and work with you on an ongoing basis.
Here are 8 tips to keep in mind when creating your PR plan for an upcoming tradeshow:
Tradeshow PR Tip #1: Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to get going! Start working with your marketing and PR resources about 3 months in advance of the tradeshow to make sure the PR plan fully comprehends the marketing plan. You want to make sure both communication activities are in synch. Will there be a live demo? If so, then work with marketing to announce the details to the media to make sure media show up.
Tradeshow PR Tip #2: Media hit list. Do some Internet research to find out which media outlets will be attending (or covering from afar) the tradeshow. Sometimes the tradeshow organizers already have a media list and will share it with you if you are planning to have a booth at the event. Feel free to ask media professionals about one month in advance of the tradeshow if they plan to go to the event or know of any colleagues who are going.
Tradeshow PR Tip #3: Message design. That early start you got will pay off here. You should know which technologies your company wants to feature at the tradeshow by now, so you can start developing the key messaging you will need when reaching out to industry media. If you are launching a new product in time for the tradeshow, then you should create a Media Alert or Press Release for the announcement. Contrary to some opinions, press releases are not dead. They still serve a purpose, which is to communicate information in an predictable format using language that is stripped of emotion and overt bias so that media outlets can decide, on the merits of the news presented, whether to cover the announcement or not.
Tradeshow PR Tip #4: Spokesperson(s). Make sure you identify who in your company is going to act as the primary spokesperson(s) with the media. You don’t want too many people talking to the media as you might end up with competing quotes that could lead to confusion among media, customers and prospects.
Tradeshow PR Tip #5: Media training. It’s not a bad idea to give your spokesperson(s) some media training if they’ve never had it before, or a refresher course in case it’s been a while since the last one. This way your spokesperson(s) can feel more confident about handling all kinds of questions from those crafty, soundbite-loving journalists and bloggers. Media training is often available from reputable PR agencies, and some former TV anchors and reporters also offer media training.
Tradeshow PR Tip #6: Exclusive. If there’s a particular media outlet that carries a lot of weight in your industry, you can always offer an “exclusive” with one of their journalists to let it be the first to break your company’s new product launch. Warning: be careful to not let any other media outlet accidentally break the news or you will have an unhappy journalist on your hands.
Tradeshow PR Tip #7: Interview schedule. Be sure you stay organized as you book one-on-one interviews with industry media. You don’t want to double-book one of your spokespersons and risk infuriating a journalist who’s taking time out his or her busy schedule to drop by your booth. Create a well-organized interview schedule that shows the times, media outlets, names of journalists and contact numbers and emails. That way if something comes up and you have to reschedule an interview you can easily reach out and coordinate a new time with the journalist.
Tradeshow PR Tip #8: Follow-up. This one is a simple concept but one that many will forget to their own detriment. Follow up each interview with thank-you emails in which you ask if the journalists and/or bloggers might need additional information to complete the article or blog post. Also, discreetly ask if there is a date they think the piece will be published. If you don’t hear back from them immediately, then give them a few days to decompress from the tradeshow and catch up on some writing assignments. Follow up again within a week, however, so that you don’t miss the window of opportunity.
I hope these tips will help as you look toward planning a PR strategy for your next tradeshow.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR agency for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer is one of the only agencies in the country specializing in technology, healthcare and energy PR to provide blended performance-based pricing. To contact Dave directly, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.