According to the PR agencies, the answer is no. According to some media the answer is yes. For about 50% of our clients the only way we can get face to face meetings with influencers is at trade shows and conferences. Because some of our client’s management teams are based in the UK or Europe, they can kill two birds with one stone when crossing the pond to participate in the conference.

The approach we take is to first make sure our client has something compelling to say and if we are smart, we’ve already been working with them on the message – whether it’s a new product release, new research findings, interesting take on today’s trends etc. Next is to work on the timing as we all know releasing “news” at some conferences and trade shows is useless as it will get lost. Often it’s better to release beforehand and use the news to suggest a meeting at the conference to go in to more detail. You could also preview research findings (under embargo) …as we are embarking on for two clients at Interop.

Whatever you do don’t annoy the reporters you are trying to reach with irrelevant pitches. It happens too often and really makes the rest of us look bad. And really think twice before you suggest an announcement at a conference. I know the sales’ teams want the buzz but it’s unlikely to happen. Below is an excerpt from a conversation Sam Whitmore had with Brian Madden. It’s straight from the horses mouth so if you won’t listen to me listen to Chris …

I’ve received about 100 emails (seriously) from vendors who will be exhibiting at VMworld next week and who’d like to schedule time for briefings. By and large these emails are a waste of time for two reasons:

First off, probably 75% of the emails are about some cloud bullshit that I don’t care about. I wish that the PR folks would pay attention to my coverage area. I’m fine with a quasi-generic mail-merge type email about the announcement.. but if you’re going to send me five emails and call me three times, at least make sure that I cover what you’re talking about. (Oh, and you won’t believe how the PR folks try to tap dance on the phone and claim that their product is relevant for desktops. “Yeah, we do VM monitoring… but we can monitor any type of VMs, even desktops!!”

Second, just about every vendor is making their announcement DURING VMWORLD. So the calls and emails I get now are them trying to schedule briefings with me as long as I agree to not disclose anything until the actual announcement during the show. And while I’ll happily agree to the embargo, I’m really thinking, “Your product has no chance in hell of getting noticed amongst the fray of 150 announcements that all hit the wire at the same time.” If vendors were smart, they would do their announcements a week ahead of time and let everyone talk about them in the run up to the show.


This post was first published by Cheryl Gale on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense, and may be viewed here.