When the PR Party is Over: Tips for Coping with Post-CES Depression

You had big dreams for your PR strategy at CES – and for good reason. Your product is awesome, your announcements were on-point, your CEO attended and his comments on the industry were unique, insightful and airtight. You even found extra budget for press events and the entire PR team was on the ground to pitch reporters at the show – they got you on-air with CNET on opening day! You were ready to take on the world – CES 2015 was your moment and no one could stop you!

But your dreams quickly became a nightmare when coverage didn’t drop on day 1…or day 2 or 3. The journalists that seemed so interested, that took up the CEO’s time with lots of questions, covered your competitor and left you out of the story. The two pieces of coverage that dropped as a result of your three-hour press event were posted on blogs that no one has ever heard of (and wait a second…didn’t that blogger say he was a contributor to Wired?).

You leave Vegas feeling anxious, let down and confused. You have all the symptoms of Post-CES Depression.

The good news is that there is a cure and all is not lost. In fact, with these tips you may even begin to look as CES as a positive PR experience and start to look forward to next year.

  1. Get a Realistic Look at Who You Met:First things first, take out all of the business cards that you collected and organize them. Take the time to write down what you remember about conversations with journalists (you should have done this already, but if you haven’t – do it now). Sort the cards based on which relationships/individuals are most important to you from a PR perspective. Then, congratulate yourself for taking the first step in building relationships with important journalists that you may not have met outside of the show – you’ve made important inroads for your company. But that won’t translate into future coverage unless you…
  1. Follow up with Customized, Individual Emails: This is not the time to send an email blast with a copy of the announcement from the show and a generic ‘thanks for meeting with us.’ Look at how your contacts covered the show, and what they normally cover. Reach out to mention that you are following up after the show with a timely and fresh angle and perspective and hook. Add the reporters to your media lists and follow up whenever you have relevant news.
  1. Timing is Everything: Don’t reach out with your customized, thoughtful email until about a week after the show. Give reporters enough time to travel home and wrap up their planned CES coverage – but not enough time to forget who you are.
  1. Re-evaluate How You Measured Success for the Show: Published coverage is the Holy Grail for PR success – but it’s not everything. When you’re evaluating how you did you should also consider:
  • Announcement coverage from reporters that did not physically attend the show, but saw your news
  • # of new media contacts for future outreach
  • # of unique visitors to your website during CES (Did that number increase? If yes, PR efforts may have contributed to that uptick)
  • # of social media shares and mentions
  • # of new leads generated (generally a marketing metrics – but if executed effectively, PR efforts certainly contribute to the bottom line)
  • Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative metrics you can truly evaluate if the show was a success from a PR perspective.
  1. Write Your Own Content and Pitch It: Did your CEO provide reporters with great sound bites? Why not use them to create content for your corporate blog, social presences or even a thought leadership press release? I always encourage my clients to write their own trade show recaps. These can be key takeaways from the show or insights on emerging trends. Your PR team can use that content for media pitches and reporter follow up.
  1. Plan for Next Year (aka Shake It Off, Move On): Take a critical look at your CES 2015 PR strategy. Ask reporters for their feedback on your announcements. Ask yourself – what did you do well? What can you do better? What investments paid off financially (e.g. press events – was one more effective than the other)? Where do you need to invest next year (e.g. Do you need to sponsor an event? Should you spend more/less money on PR?). Was your announcement the best it could be? Could it have been better? What kind of announcements got coverage? How can you adjust your content strategy?

Oftentimes, maximizing the relationships that were forged during the show and really taking a true audit of your efforts can cure Post-CES Depression. How did you do at CES this year? How are you coping with Post-CES Depression?

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