Companies often use trade shows as a stage for announcing new products or company developments and look to their marketing and PR pros to promote these announcements via media coverage. But with so many companies competing for coverage from the same reporters, especially at larger events like Dreamforce or TechCrunch Disrupt, how can you guarantee your news will get attention? The following tips should help increase your chances of grabbing headlines at your next trade show.
1. Ask yourself if what you’re launching and planning to announce is really newsworthy or relevant. After spending months working on a new product, it’s easy to get caught up in internal momentum and fail to realize that what we think is an industry first really is another variation of something already out there.
If the news is truly game changing, it should sell itself, but even the most important and exciting news may get overlooked if what you’re pitching isn’t relevant. Do your homework and determine what themes will be talked about at the trade show and align your news accordingly. Reporters covering the event will want to tie their coverage to these main themes. For example, planning on launching a new product at #DF16? You’ll have a much better shot at getting reporters to bite on your story if your spokesperson can comment on AI or your news announcement plays into the larger AI themes happening there.
2. Get a press list as early as possible and begin your outreach weeks ahead of the show. Remember, you’re not the only company trying to get media coverage during the event and reporters’ schedules fill up well in advance, leaving even the most newsworthy announcements with no one available to report on them. If the event doesn’t provide a media list, research who covered the event in the past and create your own media list. It’s likely the same people who covered it last year will be assigned to the event again—if not, they might be willing to point you to the right person.
3. A free meal or cocktail is always a good way to nudge your way onto someone’s calendar, so consider hosting a media only breakfast or happy hour event to allow reporters an exclusive look at your news, just remember to keep in mind when and where. Hosting an event across town from the conference hall that ends when the keynote presentation starts will likely result in a lot of “no thank you” responses. It also helps to think outside the box and get creative with how you present your news. There may not be time to interview at your booth or cocktail party when people are so busy running around at trade shows. I once had a client offer reporters free car service from their hotels at CES and held interviews during the car ride. This was a great way to not only ensure an interview, but a memorable and unique way to building relationships with reporters.
4. Be sure the team attending the event on behalf of your company is prepared to talk about your news in the way you want them to be talking about it. Months of planning and crafting the right messaging can all be wasted if the people you have onsite are not prepared when an impromptu run-in with a reporter turns into a misinformed article.
And don’t forget to remind your team to get social. They will be busy working at your booth or meeting with customers and may not have the time to promote your company news on social. Prepare posts in advance and assign a booth photographer so your team can easily promote on social channels during the show—just don’t forget to include the trade show hashtag!
Trade shows are busier than ever, and it takes more than just a good press release to get your news covered in the press. If you plan in advance, get creative and more importantly, have news that is interesting and relevant to the show, securing media coverage should be a slam dunk!