Our teams are always out and about supporting clients at trade shows, and some of our biggest achievements come from our experience and diligence at the Consumer Electronics Show each year. So how do we create media relations magic for our clients? Easy, it all comes down to a sound strategy to drive everything we do at the show. However, the tradeshow season has only just begun. With the likes of National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show 2015IFA and multitude of other trade shows taking place this year, it’s not too late to evaluate your strategy for success.

If you’re looking to use an upcoming trade show as a platform for awareness-building through media relations, here are a few tips to consider:

1.      Determine what success looks like, and be realistic. Figure out what the c-suite of your company would deem a big win for coverage coming out of the show and work backwards into making it a reality. If you don’t think it’s feasible, have an honest conversation about it and negotiate a reasonable, realistic goal to set expectations prior to the show so there isn’t significant disappointment afterward. 

2.      Identify the unique story you have to tell. For example, there are a host of exciting and new products at CES. There are also a host of interesting, yet completely gimmicky products as well. You need a combo of great technology advancements and a strong consumer use case in order to stand out. Once you determine your unique story, create a compelling visual that will help you to stand out from the competition and position you to capitalize on the wealth of potential broadcast opportunities available.

3.      Fire up your P.I. skills. Figure out who the best contacts will be at your “brass ring” publications and start building relationships (if you don’t have one already) months in advance leading up to the show; find out what they are covering, if they have any interest in the show and what they are looking for to see how you can fit in their story. If your key contact isn’t attending, find out who from their team might be, or simply ask how they are planning to cover the show, if at all. If you are a newcomer to the market don’t be surprised if you get passed up quickly – media get hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches for major trade shows. But not all hope is lost, there are still opportunities to catch their attention…

4.      Formulate a media plan beyond the show floor. You can’t rely solely on booth briefings to drive significant coverage. Pre-show opportunities abound at shows like CES, and it’s crucial to take advantage of the news window as early as possible. Take a look at one of our case studies on how we took the news past the show floor during the National Retail Federations’ The Big Show.

5.      Walk in the media’s shoes. Media literally walk miles and miles each day at trade shows. Don’t be offended if they are 10 minutes late because they were fighting through a crowd to get to your meeting. And remember that they don’t want to carry around a bunch of materials. They certainly don’t want your printed media kit to weigh down their backpack and they might not even want your USB. Give them easy (and preferably, early) access to pictures, videos, technical specs, etc. for when they need to write up stories from all their CES meetings. And remember you’re not the only one competing for their attention.

Don’t let your trade show experience take a turn for the worst because of poor planning. Even after years of executing on major tradeshow support, we’re always reviewing and refining our approach on behalf of our clients to achieve the best results possible.