The media has the power to influence your trade show efforts whether it be via television, radio, or print. Your job is to target your endeavors to create a positive company image and brand awareness of your products or services. How do you do that? Outlined below are 14 important points to cover during the pre-event phase that will help maximize your trade show effort.
• Define and select your target audience so that you can tailor your message to the needs, concerns, and interests of your prospects.
• Ask show management for a comprehensive media list complete with contact name, address, phone number, and e-mail address of all trade, business, and local press, radio and TV stations. Also ask them about their media plan for the show.
• Find out which publications are planning a show edition and their deadline for press releases. Realize that many of the trade journals work at least three months in advance.
• Build a working relationship with the press. Get to know the editors and writers, and the needs of their readers. Volunteer to be a resource for them. Ask about particular stories they are working on and consider information you may have to help them.
• Realize that editors are interested in timely, newsworthy information; industry trends, statistics, new technology, or product information. Do-it-yourself tips, techniques, or strategies; useful advice; human interest stories, including celebrities you have coming to the show, is also welcome.
• Investigate other media outlets not covering the show that might still be interested in information. For example, chamber of commerce magazines and newsletters; local and regional business magazines; industry-specific newsletters; cable television or local talk radio programs.
• Understand the dos and don'ts of press kits. A press kit should include timely information; a one-page company bio sheet (corporate structure, executive staff chart, sales figures); complete product information (specs, distribution methods, pricing); product photos; key contacts. Don't include outdated, false, or exaggerated information, or photos of your CEO or top executives (unless they are available for interviews).
• Minimize your press kit information so that it is lightweight and easy to fit into a bag or briefcase. If your company is relatively unknown, be creative with your press kit folder—for example, bright neon colors or graphics attract attention.
• Save on fancy, expensive folders as they do not impress the media. Exciting, newsworthy information is what they want.
• Reserve press conferences for major announcements, new product introductions (but only if they are truly new or improved), or general industry trends—what's hot and what's not. The media get very upset attending a press conference which is poorly organized and where nothing newsworthy is shared.
• Use online press kits from PR Newswire to post your press kit online and make your company news available to the media, industry experts, and consumers before, during, and after the event. Online press kits increase traffic to your trade show booth and extend your reach far beyond the exhibition floor because they let all the important audiences access your press kit information. Your corporate information is always at hand and lives on long after the event.
• Mail, broadcast fax, or e-mail press releases about your product or service focusing on what's new. For example, highlight a new application or new market, and wherever possible, include statistics. Always include a contact name and number along with your booth location.
Arrange interviews with editors several weeks prior to the show. The media will usually decide at the last minute whether or not to attend. Continue to send them updated information and photos so they remember your company name. Look for specific angles to interest the different media.
• Have a plan in case a crisis occurs immediately prior to the show—for example, your CEO resigns, or there is a takeover bid for your company. Be prepared with answers to the media's and visitors' awkward questions.
• Use your Web site to display useful advice as well as promote your show participation. Make an offer on your Web site for visitors to collect important information, such as an executive report, when they visit your booth.
Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, is The Tradeshow Coach, in Lake Placid, NY, and author of Meeting and Event Planning for Dummies, which focuses on working with companies to improve their meeting and event success through coaching, consulting, and training. Go to www.thetradeshowcoach.com to sign up for a free copy of ExhibitSmart Tips of the Week.