Industry trade shows are not just a wonderful venue for highlighting your company’s wares to potential customers; they’re also a useful platform from which to soft launch or sneak peek company announcements. Too often, businesses invest tremendous amounts of money into booth construction, graphic design, booth staff and content, but limit their ability to take full advantage of trade events from a public relations standpoint. Beyond a hyper-focused networking avenue, trade shows also entice industry, national and even international media. These fine-tuned journalists arrive on-scene to uncover major announcements, private product peeks or germane industry news. And, because media and businesses happen to be at the same place at the same time, trade shows ultimately present a perfect locale to execute a variety of PR tactics that, if executed to perfection, will net stellar results. Check out these six tips for getting the biggest bang for your trade show buck:
Arrange a news conference: If you and your company are seeking to make a big announcement (product, staff or industry-shaking), trade shows provide a favorable locale and, more importantly, a highly targeted audience. Public relations professionals procure an on-site function room within which you can hold your news conference. Decorate that room and fill it with media kits, promotional materials, signage, review stations and even hired talent to set it apart from others. Once arranged, the PR team will get to work on media invitations and all related details.
Host a “Meet and Greet” suite: Organized within the function space itself or a very nearby hotel, companies can rent a suite from which they can conduct private media interviews off the show floor. Public relations professionals prearrange media briefings for corporate executives which are typically organized in 30- or 60-minute blocks, allowing company officials focused one-on-one time with the media to discuss everything from product news to corporate investments. The more intimate nature of suite meetings offers a more personal and less noisy/crowded space where members of the media can sit down (a rarity at trade events), have a snack and really listen to what a company has to say. An additional benefit is that, should a specific company executive be needed at sales meetings or other commitments, the team can block time in advance so the executive’s time is most optimally spent during the trade event.
Hold a sneak peek or soft launch in your booth: To keep budgets in check and cultivate deeper relationships with the media, public relations team members can, again, prearrange in-booth meetings with media or even “work” the booth or media room. With this tactic, public relations team members, who are trained to know which media to seek out, locate specific media representatives and bring them back to the booth to spontaneously meet with on-site corporate staff. These impromptu meetings are mutually valuable, especially if the company has space in its booth for a sit-down meeting. Again, media reps get some much-needed time off their feet and the company earns a concentrated audience.
Host a trade event: In past years, Axia PR has organized, designed and executed events at trade shows for multiple reasons. Some are simply to set the company apart using a unique method, while others are to establish a forum for critical meet-and-greets. Companies with sizable budgets tend toward creating fun and elegant events, outings and excursions which media, sales leads, executives, staff and even investors attend. Event ideas include the outrageous (parachuting) to more traditional but equally entertaining activities (boat cruises, go-kart racing, magic shows, mentalists, cooking classes). These events are highly theme-based (to mirror any product or service launches and other marketing efforts) and we develop them with the specific goal of not only earning media attention, but also networking, team building and, of course, sales generation.
Secure a speaker slot: When company executives lead the way in a specific area (or should those individuals wish to gain mindshare as such), public relations teams can secure speaking arrangements to help achieve this particular goal. Should your CEO be the brains behind an earth-shatteringly cool application, for example, or super-delicious recipe for tofu burgers, PR teams can secure speaking slots at trade events to further highlight your company’s particular expertise and knowledge base.
Host the media room, luncheon or coffee: Growing a corporate brand isn’t always about advertising and marketing. Sometimes, the simplest gestures can accomplish a greater result – especially when finely tuned and targeted. Trade shows cannot run without sponsorship. Therefore, attending companies (especially those that opt not to expend budget dollars on booth space/exhibits) have alternatives to capture mindshare and presence at trade events – one of which is through sponsorship of, most specifically, the media room, which is a superior location for public relations efforts. By sponsoring the media room, companies gain an element of control over the room where they can hang corporate signage, hold meetings and mingle with the multitudes of media. If operated correctly, those companies can build new relationships amid the media ranks, who often leverage the media room multiple times a day simply to grab a bite to eat and catch a few moments of solitude and rest.
Not every company wants to tackle trade events with an eye on public relations value since most are deftly focused on sales generation and partnerships. However, trade events are so incredibly focused that it’s almost guaranteed that businesses that thrive from industry mention will gain further credibility by executing basic public relations tactics at such events. If your company is giving consideration to a trade show, give the Axia PR team a call to discuss how we may be able to further maximize your trade show presence.
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason on Twitter at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.
Featured image credit: www.thinkstockphotos.com