With the return of in-person trade shows following a hiatus due to COVID-19, companies are once again investing big dollars to exhibit at trade shows in hopes of showcasing their wares and generating big sales. But trade shows are more than a platform for pushing your new products and meeting with customers. They are opportunities to share your brand story and connect with key media influencers in your industry.
Here are a few valuable public relations tips on how you can gain exposure and attention at your next trade show.
1. Set PR Goals
First and foremost, determine what will define PR success at the trade show. What media do you want at your booth? How much engagement on social media do you want to generate during the show? What news announcement do you want to distribute at the show to create buzz? Do you want to host an event or special guest appearance to draw attention to your booth?
Set clear expectations and attainable goals.
2. Determine Your News Angle
Many companies schedule new product announcements around major trade shows, which is a slam dunk for creating a press release, but with hundreds (oftentimes thousands) of exhibitors competing for visibility and attention, it’s important to stand out. Determine how to position your news announcement to generate interest in visiting your company’s trade show booth.
Regardless of whether or not you have an exciting new product to unveil, consider additional newsworthy stories that may be of interest to the media – and, ultimately, your customers.
Here are a few ideas as thought starters:
- Product line extension
- New features added to a popular product
- New packaging/branding
- Research your company has conducted and its findings
- Expansion into new markets/company growth
- Awards or milestones your company has reached
- Sustainable options/features/initiatives
- Celebrity appearance or special event/demo at your booth
Whatever angle you decide, make sure it is relevant to the media you are contacting and a topic of interest to their readers and followers. Based on your news angle(s), prepare press releases to distribute prior to and during the show. Journalists are busy and will receive dozens of emails and press releases each day leading up to the show, so keep your information concise, distinctive, compelling, and relevant.
3. Initiate Media Outreach
Once you’ve determined the key messages you want your customers – and thus, the media – to know from your appearance at the show, it’s time to reach out to the media. And by reach out, I don’t mean send out the press release and wait for the phone to ring. Contact journalists and influencers weeks prior to the event with personalized emails to let them know what type of announcements your company will be making at the show, what company executives will be available for interviews, and any demos/events scheduled. Offer to schedule one-on-one appointments to ensure they have access to company executives to ask about business developments and new products.
Trade shows are one of the best venues to meet and establish mutually beneficial relationships with media contacts, and it starts with media outreach. While having your product included in a show wrap-up article is a huge win, meeting the media in person is the first and very invaluable step to build long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.
NOTE: When you do schedule appointments with the media, make sure you exchange mobile phone numbers. Time on the trade show floor is tricky and sometimes appointments are often missed, so it’s good to have their contact information to reconnect and reschedule.
4. Social Media Promotion
An important step in effective trade show PR is to participate in the online chatter before and during the show. Research the organizers, media, bloggers, and influencers that are talking about the show and the hashtags and links they are using. Create social media content specifically around the trade show to promote your presence and drive traffic to your booth, and use appropriate hashtags so your content can easily be found and shared, helping you reach a wider audience.
5. Prepare Booth Staff
An often overlooked step in effective PR at trade shows is preparing your booth staff to handle media inquiries. Designate one to two people to be the primary contacts and provide them with a schedule of all media appointments. Instruct staff working the booth that anyone with a press credential on their badge should be directed to one of the designated contacts. Make sure that one of the contacts is always in the booth and has access to press materials and key talking points. These contacts should be instructed on how to communicate with the media while in the booth, whether a reporter is waiting on a scheduled interview or is a walk-in with specific questions.
6. Follow Up
Within a few days of the trade show, make sure you follow up on any requests for materials, samples, information, or interviews. Thank the media that took the time to stop by the booth and offer them additional information, as needed, by sending a follow-up note. For the ones who couldn’t make it to your booth or those who didn’t attend the show but may be interested in your news, send them any press announcements distributed only at the show and offer to set up a post-show interview. Follow-up is a critical step in building and fostering new (and existing) media relationships.
Following these steps will help you gain visibility and take advantage of PR opportunities surrounding trade shows. Working with our clients to create trade show strategies that align with sales, marketing, and branding efforts, FUEL integrates PR efforts to maximize our clients’ trade show investments.
Ready to boost your trade show PR efforts? Give us a shout.