Make Your Next Trade Show Exhibit
By Karen Friedman
comes to promoting, selling, or creating awareness of your product
or service, there’s practically no such thing as receiving
publicity! So, if you happen to land some coveted floor space at a
well attended industry trade show, media opportunity might be yours
for the taking. The question of course is---how do you attract that
sought after coverage and how do you make it work to your advantage?
starters, don’t be fooled by thinking attracting coverage and
receiving coverage is equal. Attracting coverage at many
trade shows is actually the easy part, especially if the venue, like
the Philadelphia Flower Show is a hometown favorite that appeals to
thousands of people. But just because reporters are floating about,
doesn’t mean they’ll float your way.
Generally, most reporters, especially broadcast reporters, who cover
trade shows, have little, if any direction. Assignment editors
looking for time and space to fill, typically point reporters in the
direction of the venue with seemingly explicit instructions such as
“See what you can come up with” or “Maybe you can find something new
and interesting.” Depending on the time of year, reporters are
frequently charged to tie their reports into a holiday or season.
For example, if a trade show sports jewelry, the reporter might be
assigned a story on what types of jewels people are buying each
other this holiday season. If the floor features the latest in
high-tech gadgets, reporters will be looking for the newest or most
unique item that their readers haven’t read about before.
Segal, PR guru and noted author of How To Get Your Fifteen
Minutes of Fame and More, says while trade shows are some of the
best opportunities for leveraging coverage, there is so much
competition that it’s increasingly difficult to stand out. He
advises people to: “stop chest thumping and start realizing that
reporters don’t care about you…they only care about how your product
or service helps their audience.”
there are ways to generate the ink you think your company, product
or spokesperson deserves.
Wait Until Show Time: Organizers plan in advance and so should
you. If you have a cool gadget, interactive media display, or plan
to announce a new product, let organizers know in advance. When a
reporter pops in and is looking for something visual or innovative,
they might point the person in your direction.
Reporters Are Not Easily Impressed: Reformatted brochures or
slick annual reports do not tell your story in a reporter friendly
format. However, your press kit does not need to arrive with
brimming balloons and overflowing beach balls that get batted around
the newsroom and will not land you coverage. Your kit should tell
your story, provide key information and include your booth number,
media contacts and phone numbers.
Benefits: Not every trade show is a media magnet. For example,
new fillings on display at the dental convention might interest an
industry publication, but not generate much interest among
mainstream media. Yet, if the latest in dental needles was
completely pain free or a new brand of toothpaste really could wipe
out cavities forever, your pitch will likely score more attention.
Victory With Visuals: Reporters need visuals. Put photographs,
displays or posters up at your booth so they can see what you’re
talking about. If you’re handing out photos, make sure they are high
resolution and available in various formats and can be accessed on
your company website for reprint. Include short captions and
photographer credits. If a reporter is attracted to your booth,
visuals increase attention and provide a backdrop for interviews.
often however, public relations efforts focus very heavily on
capturing media attention and fail to spend critical time
understanding how to benefit from their fifteen minutes of fame. As
a reporter, I’ve walked away from many a trade show staffer who
talked about his company and could not simply explain how his
product would benefit or improve the lives of my viewers.
example, do you know what “multiple, heterogeneous operating system
versatility” is? I didn’t think so. I didn’t know either. But not
too long ago I worked with an executive who literally described his
company’s product in those exact words. That may work for an
engineering magazine, but drowning reporters in jargon is a
publicity death sentence. If the executive said:
“Because we can securely handle thousands of data transactions on a
single server, our customers benefit from incredible computing
power, more efficiency, reduced costs and can spend more time
concentrating on their business”, he’d have a better chance of
failing to recognize the importance of training staffers and
spokespeople, organizations risk losing an opportunity to leverage
coverage. A good spokesperson understands how quickly and
effectively to position his product or company. A bad spokesperson
can sabotage a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in a
matter of seconds.
Training: If your staffers aren’t media trained, keep them away
from the trade show. They need to know what reporters want, dos and
don’ts of interviewing and how to develop a short attention grabbing
description that they can share with almost any audience. Don’t
refer the reporter to a PR person back at the office. If they walk
away, chances are, they’re gone for good.
Follow Up: Don’t assume the reporter will call you to follow up.
Give them a couple of days and then call to find out if they need
additional information, pictures or interviews. Reporters hate to
admit this, but the easier you make their job, the happier they are.
ask the right questions. Take a moment to find out who you’re
talking to, what they cover and what would interest their readers or
listeners. Then, try to become one of those readers and visualize
what you would want to read about if you were them. When you learn
to speak from an audience’s perspective, you will build credibility
and position yourself as someone who gets it. By doing that, you are
positioning yourself as a resource, building relationships and
opening opportunities for the reporter to call you in the future.
That’s what leveraging is all about.
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