Hello readers, it’s great to be back for another lesson. This topic is one that all readers can benefit from: “how to attract media attention at trade shows”. As you will see, this is easier than you may think and the rewards of adding a public relations strategy to any trade show you exhibit at, or attend, are bountiful. Now let’s get started with our lesson…
Important Basics of Media Coverage:
For those of you who may be wondering what the big deal is about getting media coverage, let’s cover some basics. Positive media coverage is extremely valuable. To put this into perspective; if you were to receive positive media coverage of your company or products in a certain publication, the impact of that article to the readers is much higher than paid advertising in the same publication. If you have any idea what advertising rates are like, you can see why media coverage is quite literally valuable. The reason an article has such a bigger impact is because your product or company was just validated by an unbiased 3rd party (the editor), whom readers of the publication have come to trust for information. On the other hand, if you had just placed an ad in that very same publication, readers know the information in an advertisement is biased since it was written by someone who is looking to sell something.
While there are significant differences in how media coverage vs. advertising is perceived by readers, I’m not advocating to stop advertising and only focus on public relations; if for no other reason than that it’s simple to run and ad three months in a row, while it is pretty much impossible to get a similar article published three times in a row in the same publication. There is no doubt about it, advertising is an important marketing tool and repetition is important and can only be achieved through ads. When you implement advertising campaigns, aligned with strategic public relations activities designed to attract media to cover your company and products in articles, you are able to enhance and complement the money spent on advertising. This delivers better results and more leads for your sales team.
Trade Shows are Great for Meeting Media Contacts:
In general, trying to attract a very busy media person who has many deadlines to meet on an average daily basis is difficult. You can send pitch letters all day in hopes of arranging an in-person interview with no luck. But when announcing to targeted media contacts that you will be at a certain trade show they are attending, your odds for arranging a meeting increase dramatically. Notice, I said targeted media contacts. That means, you need to find the contact covering your particular type of company or product and the publications have to be relevant to your business. Just getting media coverage in any miscellaneous publication will not reach the key prospects who would be interested in buying your product.
How to Find Out What Media Are Attending a Show:
When exhibiting, you should have access to a list of media attending the show. This list is maintained and provided by the show and tends to change significantly with time and while you should try to get the list as early as possible, keep getting later updated versions to contact individuals that have been added later on. You will most likely need to contact the show directly to request this list; it is extremely rare to find it on the show site. Typically a PR contact for the show can send this to you. If you are an attendee, the show will most likely not provide you with the list, but if you know someone exhibiting, ask if they can request it and send to you! The list is typically provided as a spreadsheet, with the media contact names, title, publication they write for, address, phone number and email.
Pitching the Media for Meeting at the Show:
If you are looking to attract media to make time in their schedules to have a meeting with you at the show, start your introductions about a month or so before the show, because their schedules fill up fast. Do your homework on their publication first. Find the appropriate media contact to pitch for a meeting, look at the articles they write and what is on the editorial calendar. Be sure that you are telling them about a new product, an improved product, or an innovative approach to the market. Suggest some areas your product would fit into an upcoming story already planned and offer other possible article ideas that you feel may be of interest to them.
One other thing that will attract attention in a pitch is offering to be an expert source for articles they are working on. When making contact to arrange an at-show meeting, list your areas of expertise and suggest a few story ideas. This goes a long way in showing that you are either already a reader of their publication, or took the time to learn about what type of information is of interest to them and how you can help them. Media contacts are always in need of good expert sources to provide information for articles.
If your product has already been on the market for quite some time; the pitch for a meeting will not hold much weight and you are better off just looking for media badges while on the show-floor and at networking events. If your product truly is interesting, you will have an easier time attracting them to learn more in person, than through a pitch. Alternatively, if your company has done any special market research or has new interesting case studies to share, try using that as an angle to set up meetings.
What to Have Available for Media at a Trade Show:
One of the most important items to have available is a press kit; either a traditional kit in a folder, or on a cd. The kit should have two or three of your latest press releases. Also have the company spokesperson’s biography, company brochure, product data sheets or other product information sheets and most importantly a business card for your company’s media contact. Make sure to place the Media Kits in the Press Room at the show. The amount you bring will depend on the size of the show and how many editors have registered to attend. That will give you a feel for how many kits to bring for the press room, meetings and extra ones available in the booth to hand out to media who visit the booth.
Top 5 Tips for Good Media Coverage:
1.) Company Spokesperson: Have at least one dedicated company spokesperson, or several if your company is large enough.
2.) Speaking Points: Have a list of speaking points and key benefit messages for the company spokesperson to weave into their conversations.
3.) Media Training: Get media training if possible for all company spokespeople to learn how to best answer tough questions, so your company doesn’t wind up with bad press by accident.
4.) Defined Process for Booth Staff: Have a defined process for how booth staff should interact with media contacts. Preferably have them hand a press kit and ask for the media contact’s business card and a local number or cell phone where they can be reached for the spokesperson to call them.
5.) Script: If you insist on wanting all booth staffers to be able to speak with the media; prepare a list of the topics they are allowed to discuss, along with speaking points and key benefit messages for them to refer to. Implement role-playing exercises pre-show and at the booth before the show opens. If your company has a PR professional, they should oversee this exercise and provide feedback/suggestions, otherwise have a Marketing Manager work on the role-playing activities.
Well class, that’s it for this lesson. As you have learned, meeting media at trade shows can be pretty easy, and you read how media coverage can provide great results for attracting attention to your company. It does require some planning, just like everything related to a trade show does.
Linda Musgrove is President of the Trade Show Training firm, TradeShow Teacher. She focuses on significantly improving Trade Show Results through Products offered on the TradeShow Teacher website and strategic, customized Trade Show Training for individuals, departments or entire teams. Musgrove presents goal based Trade Show, Marketing and Networking Seminars at Industry Conferences and creates customized training programs for Trade Show Producers to offer exhibitors. She authored "The Complete Idiots Guide to Trade Shows", a Trade Show Training Manual titled "Trade Show Training for Increased ROI" and writes columns for a variety of Trade Show industry publications. To learn more, visit http://www.tsteacher.com