This post was first published by Lisa Sorrentino on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.
As public relations professionals, we live and breathe news. Often, the best platform to announce our clients’ news is at an industry trade show. Most recently, one of the biggest shows in the tech world came and went, leaving our heads spinning and hearts pounding with excitement. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the biggest shows of the year for several of March’s clients, and it typically drives some of the biggest pushes for messaging and news announcements for companies.
During the ramp-up for any show, PR pros are crazed with schedules, logistics, messaging and last-minute to-dos. Now that CES has come and gone, here are some of our event PR best practices that will help you make a conference a success for your client.
1. Prep, Prep, Prep
Whether it’s your first show or your 100th show, preparation is paramount to the success of your team and sanity. Knowing who to reach out to media-wise to offer conversations with your client will help align goals on the PR side with those on the editorial side. Getting a pre-registered media list from the event organizers is key for any show!
You may also be dealing with multiple executives attending the show with different schedules of availability for press interviews. Juggling that can be stressful, but I’ve found that maintaining a living scheduling grid for all appointments has saved my life more than once! This way, you have all the information you need about timings and locations right in front of you, all in once central location. This tool can be used in other aspects of your planning as well such as tracking and reporting post-show.
2. Know Your Message
When trying to secure press interest, the dream is that media will just reply back and say “Yes, I’d love to meet.” But that’s not always the reality. They may have follow-up questions about the points they can talk about. Knowing the answer right away can save time and give the reporter the confidence that you know your stuff, and understand their needs.
Letting too much time go by without answering someone’s question can result in your meeting slot being taken. This is one of the strengths of working as part of a team of tech PR pros – going to the more senior colleagues on your team and hashing out the answer is a great way to get things done quickly during the stressful trade show period.
3. Understand Your Audience
Offering conversations to the right people at the right publications is very important. Just as you are stressed out, so are members of the media. It’s hard to remember that they are sifting through numerous emails and interview offers, not just yours. Their time at the show is valuable and they want to make sure they are utilizing it correctly. This is also where “knowing your message” comes in as well.
4. Run Point
You don’t always get to physically attend every show you prep for, but when you do, it’s extremely important to be the point-person for any and all interview comings and goings. Staying focused and having the interview schedule (discussed during the prep phase) on-hand to quickly answer any client or media inquiries is paramount to the success of the show for your client – as well as your success while client-facing. Being on point, while maintaining point, is the key!
5. Close the Deal
Trade shows don’t stop when the last interview takes place. There is much follow up to be done post-show. Receiving a recap from the on-site person (if possible) is a great way to conduct post-show outreach. Knowing if anyone requested more information about a specific topic is great so you can make sure those materials actually get to the media to finish their story.
Also, it’s important to make sure that everyone who had interviews scheduled actually got to meet – because we all know that “things happen.” Offering post-show catch-ups and making sure that journalists don’t have any lingering questions stemming from conversations will help keep your client top of mind for that publication.
Be the Star of the Season
Overall, trade show season can be stressful, but it happens to be one of my favorite times of the PR year. Moving quickly, getting results and making the client happy is what we do, and in my opinion, there is no better time to really shine and make that happen than at a trade show. As long as you prep beforehand, know your message, understand your audience, stay on point and close the deal – you’re good to go!