The New Year is fast approaching, and with it comes the return of the industry’s biggest conferences and expos—CES (consumer tech; Las Vegas), RSA (security; San Francisco) and MWC (mobile; Barcelona) to name a few.
While there may be no better place to rub elbows with top journalists, securing valuable press coverage can be challenging without the right media strategy.
Many PR traditionalists believe that a compelling announcement or product/service launch during the event is the ticket to press coverage. For mega brands or companies with truly new and unique hooks, it’s an effective approach. Yet for the majority of other organizations who lack serious industry clout or something significant to unveil, trade shows are a different animal. But all is not lost—there are other ways to break through the noise and get coveted media attention.
- Utilize Partnerships: Companies without a strong story to tell on their own may want to explore joint efforts with their business partners. I once worked with a start-up that was able to use its relationship with a major mobile carrier to boost its presence at CES. Not only did the company physically use the carrier’s splashy booth space, it was also able to capitalize on greater press foot traffic. As a result, the company secured significantly more media coverage by teaming with the partner than if it had decided to go out on its own. The same can be done with industry associations your organization belongs to.
- Create Your Own News: As competition heats up, the organizations that will get noticed are the ones that think outside of the box and offer up assets that no one else can. When executed strategically, stunts can be an effective way to get on the media’s radar, and at the same time increase brand awareness among thousands of attendees. RSA in particular is notorious for hacking stunts. Additionally, the media will tend to favor companies that are able to discuss emerging trends AND provide legitimate insight into these issues—by way of real-world customer case studies or proprietary data.
- Hustle On-Site: If your company or client is expecting to have in-person media interviews, you must have PR representation on-site. This is non-negotiable in my opinion. Massive conferences are often frenzied, and can be logistical nightmares. Having someone on-site managing media enables companies to have tighter control over confirmed interviews, or troubleshoot issues that will inevitably come up along the way. This also allows you to directly network with and/or pitch media on the trade show floor that you may have not otherwise been able to reach if you were back at the office. And if all else fails, don’t forget the power of a free coffee or cocktail.
- Pay Your Way: Balancing earned media with paid opportunities is also an effective way to boost a company’s trade show coverage. Aside from going the traditional event sponsorship route, media sponsors often offer affordable ways to ensure your company secures placements. For example, IDG Enterprise, iSMG, infosecurity, SearchSecurity and ZDNet are all listed as global media partners for the RSA US 2017 conference. Get in contact with these publications early and see what opportunities may make sense for your business.
- Self-Publish: Regardless of how many press meetings or interviews a company might have, I always encourage my clients to publish first-hand perspectives on owned channels (LinkedIn, corporate blog, social media, etc.). I do this for a few reasons. First, not every relevant reporter or blogger will be at the conference, and will be in search of on-the-ground insights from those that are. Second, it gives you an opportunity to tailor content for your customers and their areas of concern–most general conference coverage will not do this. Third, more and more media properties are using platforms like LinkedIn and Medium to source articles, giving your content an opportunity to be seen and read by broader audiences.
The road to trade show coverage is never easy, but the right media strategy can make all the difference. If you have questions about how you can make a splash at major events in Q1 and beyond, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me at 212-398-9680.