July 15, 2013

Ramp up your trade show marketing: PR opportunities abound!

Make sure your trade booth staffers are on the lookout for media representatives and familiar with the schedule of media appointments.

Make sure your trade booth staffers are on the lookout for media representatives and familiar with the schedule of media appointments.

Trade shows are an important component of most companies’ marketing initiatives. While participating in the show expo can be a valuable way to connect with customers and prospects at local and national levels, the promotional opportunities afforded by the event extend way beyond the exhibit booth. Boost your company’s return on investment and marketing success with a well-planned public relations effort to gain significant editorial coverage before, during and after the event.

Before the event

Start with pre-event publicity to maximize interest in and coverage of your activities through press releases, media alerts, invitations, and your company’s web site, newsletters and social media programs. Also take advantage of all the opportunities offered by trade show management, such as access to media lists and coverage in the event’s newsletter, show guide, website and social media.

Find out whether the show needs keynote speakers, panel discussion participants, presenters or authors of conference papers. Secure one of these opportunities for your business leaders and you’ll strengthen your industry reputation. Plus, you’ll form relationships with the trade editors, who will come to think of you as thought leaders and industry experts. Each speaking engagement offers the opportunity to send editorial advisories ahead of the event.

For editorial briefings, you will need a press kit to leave with the editors you meet with, to send to those with whom we’re unable to visit, and to leave in the press room of the trade show. Contents could include press releases, backgrounders, fact sheets, images and other supporting materials. In addition to print documents in a pocket folder, your press kit should be made available electronically, either on a branded CD or jump drive. If the trade show’s website has a virtual newsroom, upload your press kit there.

Begin your outreach at least two weeks prior to the event to set up on-site interviews, schedule visits to your exhibit and invite editors to your speaking engagements. Also consider activities to develop meaningful relationships with editors, such as inviting some of them to your company-sponsored seminars or hospitality events at the show. Hosting a media dinner at one of your marquee events is another possible media relations activity that will benefit you and your company for years to come. This will enable your executives to interact with editors who are important to your organization, to thank them for their past coverage and to present some highlights of your company’s recent developments.

During the event

The day before the event opens, drop off your press kits at the press room and your exhibit booth. Make sure your trade booth staffers are on the lookout for media representatives and familiar with the schedule of media appointments. Also provide them a list of all media registered for the show and details on how to contact you when a media representative stops by.

When you’re not busy coordinating press interviews or meeting with editors at company-sponsored activities, look for opportunities to engage media representatives by attending the show’s networking events or by visiting their magazine’s exhibit booth. If possible read the magazines and review editorial calendars before your meetings so you have a feel for the tone and editorial focus. Take the time to listen to their objectives for the year and then suggest ideas on how you can help by participating in their staff-written articles and/or contributing by-lined features, testimonials or other types of editorial materials.

After the event

Following the event, you’ll want to evaluate your media relations strategy and pinpoint the deliverables for immediate and future publicity. Send out a press release on your speaking engagement, look for ways to repurpose your conference paper into a feature article, and follow up on editorial commitments that you secured at the show. Also continue the coverage on your website, newsletters and social media by posting your presentation, speech and videos of exhibit hall interviews and announcements. Keep on top of all these opportunities and your efforts will reap the benefits in valuable short-term and long-term media exposure for your company.