How to Generate Tradeshow Buzz Like a PR Boss
Industry tradeshows are one of the oldest and most popular tools in the marketing toolbox for generating sales leads; they are also one of the most expensive. The industry average for a 20×20 tradeshow display costs between $40-$60K, according to ExhibitUSA – not including employee travel costs, hotel stays, food and beverage, audio and visual, alcohol, or entertainment.
To almost no one’s surprise, tradeshows continue to be one of the most powerful tactics for companies seeking a direct return on investment. Where else can you meet face to face with prospective customers and partners while getting to spy on your competitors?
If you have been using tradeshows solely as a sales tool, you’re missing out on opportunities to expand your PR footprint by building credibility and buzz for your brand, as well as getting to meet key trade media in person.
Whether you’re attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) or EDUCAUSE, there are great ways to build buzz and garner media coverage.
Be a detective
If you are an exhibitor, speaker or sponsor, chances are, you’ll have access to the registered list of media attendees. If not, or if the organizers won’t share the list with you, use Google to find out what media covered the event last year; there’s a strong chance that if they’re still at the same publication and covering the same beat, they’ll be the ones attending again. Reach out to inquire if they’ll be attending again and if they can make time to stop by your booth. If they aren’t assigned to cover the conference this year, ask if they can connect you to the right person at their publication.
The early bird gets the worm
If you wait until the week before your event to ask reporters for a meeting, you’ll be greatly disappointed. By that time, their calendars are already full. Traveling for tradeshows is a big investment for reporters, and they typically have a number of things they want to see and accomplish. They will have sessions they want to hear and interviews their editor has already assigned. Ideally, reach out 3-4 weeks in advance to ask for a meeting. If a reporter’s schedule won’t allow a face-to-face, schedule a phone interview in advance to brief them on your news so that if they do swing by your booth, the pressure is off for both of you and you can just hit the high points.
Create a sense of urgency
If your client has big news to share, don’t wait until the day of the show to make a splash! Give your media contacts a heads up at least a week in advance and share the release with them under embargo, so that they are able to gather all of the information and conduct any interviews they need to tell a great story, BEFORE they step foot on the tradeshow floor. This way, your story is more likely to run AT THE START OF or DURING the event, which can create greater buzz and capture greater attention.
Social media can’t be done in a vacuum
If your company has been inactive on social media channels up until now, leveraging a conference is a great starting point to build a following. Assign one person to be in charge, but encourage all employees to engage with the Company’s social media channels during the event. Use the event hashtag in your posts so that anyone following the conversation will see them. Use the weeks leading up to the event to leave teasers about what you’ll be showcasing, where your booth will be located, and to start generating conversation and building followers that you want to meet with at the event. Don’t rely on a colleague sitting in an office 3,000 miles away pushing out canned tweets that don’t reflect any real-time interaction from the event. Mix it up with photos, quick video interviews and direct quotes from speakers at the event.
When the show is over, you’re just beginning. You’ll want to follow up with any media and analysts that you met with at the conference to see if there they would like a follow-up call, if they have any questions, or if there are any materials that they would like to see. It’s YOUR responsibility to close the loop and move the tradeshow meeting into media coverage. And, for anyone that you weren’t able to meet with – because there will ALWAYS be cancellations – make sure to follow up to reschedule the meeting by phone. Connect with reporters you met on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter and have your client do so as well – use the tradeshow as a catalyst to get the conversation going.
Tradeshows are a large investment of time and money for companies. By putting the right amount of time, effort and strategy behind them, you can create measurable value beyond sales!
By Colleen Martin, Principal
As public relations professionals, one of our main responsibilities is to build relationships with the media on behalf of our clients. Developing a good rapport with a member of the media can result in interview and byline opportunities you’ve pitched as well as opportunities where a reporter proactively reaches out to use a client as an expert in an upcoming piece.
In order to foster a great relationship with a member of the media, a PR pro must first understand the keys to successful pitching. Understanding what a reporter is looking for will enable you to draft pitches that will not only be worthwhile to the reporter, but also to you and your client.
Here are five things to remember before you develop your pitch:
- Facts, Facts and More Facts: The media loves hard facts, so beginning your pitch with a reputable, eye-opening statistic to address a pain point is a great way to get a reporter’s attention and spur his/her interest in the topic you are pitching.
- Hard News Is Great News: You can pique the media’s interest by pitching them hard client news such as new products, acquisitions, partnerships, etc. In some cases – when newsworthy enough – you can even use these types of announcements to kindle their interest through embargos or exclusives.
- Breaking News and Events: Whether it a recent election or a major conference/event/holiday, you can use timely news hooks to get the attention of a reporter that may already be covering a related story
- Catchy Subject Lines: A subject line can make or break your chance of catching the eye of a reporter, as they are often working on-the-go or trying to meet a deadline. Your subject line should be as short and clever as possible, as well as readable from a smartphone or tablet.
- Ready-to-Go Content: Reporters are often juggling multiple stories at once, so they may pass on a story idea if it requires them to interview a source and ultimately write another piece. Having “Expert Tips” or “Top-10 Lists” at the ready can increase your chances of coverage. In some instances, it can also lead to a byline opportunity for your client.
Keeping these tips in mind, you can now confidently draft a pitch that will get a second look and help you open the door to new and greater opportunities for client coverage.
The Anatomy of a Success Pitch
By Maggie Markert, Strategist
“What exactly is public relations?” I get asked this question all of the time (side note: mainly from my mother). For years my answer always included some form of “we work with the media and journalists.” While this still holds true, the answer has shifted a bit as the public relations (PR) landscape has taken on new forms and new channels.
While traditional journalists are still present and relevant, bloggers are now also regular targets to pitch. Bloggers have quickly made their rise in the PR world, and in some cases can be equally or more influential than a journalist. By definition a blog is a website on which a person writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences. According to NM Incite, 6.7 million people publish blogs, and another 12 million write blogs using their social networks. With so many people blogging today, it’s important that PR professionals tap into this segment and build relationships with these writers, just as they would traditional journalists.
It’s also important to keep in mind that a blogger may be a journalist for a traditional publication, but who also blogs on the side- perhaps about the same beat they regularly cover, or something entirely different that they are interested in. These blogs can be as equally important for consumers, especially with 81 percent of U.S. online consumers citing that they trust information and advice from blogs.
One last distinction that should be noted is the difference between bloggers and vloggers. Bloggers typically write pieces, where vloggers capture videos. With so many social video platforms taking off- Snapchat ,YouTube channels, Instagram Stories- targeting vloggers should also be a standard practice for PR professionals as well.
Embrace Contributed Content
Pitching the same reporters, bloggers, etc., can sometimes feel repetitive. As PR professionals, it’s our job to think of new ways to get our clients into key publications. It’s easy to get a client’s hard news written about, but it’s a bit more difficult when the news is few and far between.
One popular and effective way to get clients into publications is to offer contributed content or bylines. In these contributed pieces, top-level executives or experts in a particular field can discuss forward-thinking thought leadership topics. Bylines are a good way to showcase a Company’s expertise on a certain topic. As a best practice, it’s good to vary the expert who authors the bylines to showcase the depth of leadership and experience at the company.
People tend to think of social media as an entity that is separate from PR. However, social media is just another channel that PR Pros can use. PR pros should aim to leverage all relevant social media channels to further engage audiences and build awareness. Repackaging news or articles, or creating the perfect 140-character sound bite and hashtags are all part of the new PR.
It’s important for PR professionals to stay current with emerging and established channels to optimize brand awareness and engagement. Public relations goes beyond pure media relations to engage multiple publics through multiple channels- and in today’s world it’s about meeting your customer where they are, whether that’s a traditional trade publication, the daily newspaper, or the latest vlog.
By: Lindsay Hull
A client with a strong pipeline of newsworthy announcements is as exciting as winning the lottery to most PR professionals. The media craves hard numbers, customer partnerships, funding, and new products. More often than not, however, early stage companies don’t have a never-ending stream of announcements. This can be a major challenge, but nearly ten years in the industry and numerous start-up clients have given me some great ways to make sure that a lack of hard news doesn’t mean a lack of great hits.
Look to Executives and Unique Employees
It might be time to refresh your media contacts that cover entrepreneurial journeys. There are full publications that solely focus on productiveness, leadership, and management styles. Entrepreneur.com and Inc.com often feature small companies and start-ups with distinct perspectives. The New York Times has a recurring section called “Corner Office” dedicated to leadership and management.
In addition, find out if any of the company’s employees have any extreme hobbies or interests that impact their business style. Does the CEO fly a plane or volunteer with his therapy dogs? Sometimes it’s the people at an organization and their stories that grab the attention of reporters, which can lead to coverage of the company.
Local publications like to see the impact that your client is making in the community. Does your client participate in local volunteer work? Has their company grown recently in size and/or revenue, adding more jobs? Do they simply have a cool office space? All of these angles can lead to securing media coverage. Explore the various news sections of your clients’ local media outlets and see what angles are available.
Create Your Own Content
With a 24-hour news cycle, publications are always looking for high-quality, pre-packaged content from experts. Now is the time to pick a couple of “topics to own” – areas where your client is expert – and pitch targeted bylines to publications that accept them. If you’re not sure where to start, set up an interview with the executive you’re working with. Ask good, reporter-style questions and look for an angle that’s a little bit different than all of the other articles on the topic.
Chances are that you are already monitoring news in your clients’ industries. Use this to your advantage. If a competitor is getting covered, pitch those same media contacts. If a certain topic is trending that your client can speak to, introduce them to the relevant reporters and editors for follow-on stories. In times of sparse news, it also pays to think outside your core media list and look to writers in associated areas or verticals.
There is no shortage of PR professionals working to get their clients media coverage. In fact, it is estimated that there are four times more PR pros than journalists in the U.S., all competing to get their clients coverage. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that no matter which path you choose to secure media coverage, knowing your audience and standing out from the crowd should be at the core of your strategy. Happy pitching!
By: Alyson Kuritz