Trade shows and conferences aren’t just about networking, finding vendors or prospecting clients. Connecting with media and garnering press coverage is a value add that many attendees forget, or don’t know how to leverage. Here are some tips and tricks for trade show PR:
Do your homework. Review media coverage from the previous year’s show. Figure out which publications sent reporters in person and which outlets covered it remotely. Look at the content of the coverage. Who was interviewed? Did attendees with various titles chime in, or were only the most well-known CEOs quoted? What was the scope of the articles? Did the media relay specific content from panel discussions and profile specific executives/companies, or was the focus on general trends?
Get the lay of the land. Where do most people congregate or mingle between (or during) sessions? Is there a courtyard or atrium where attendees go for a bit of breathing room? Is there a lounge, coffee shop or other quiet area that would be appropriate for a sit down interviews? Insight on the logistics will help you position yourself in a high-traffic area and make sure you cross paths with the reporters you are there to meet. An added tip: Unless Tim Cook is personally selling the new iPhone from a booth onsite, you are not going to find reporters in the exhibitor area. So if media is your focus, don’t waste your time there.
Take notes and make notes. Jot down important points or takeaways from speakers and panelists in conference sessions. Also note your own thoughts and observances on the topic, as this is equally, if not more, important. Anyone can capture and relay notes, but it is a unique perspective, or additional consideration, that you bring to the table that gets you quoted in a news story. If you can supply an anecdote from your business/experience that illustrates the speaker’s point, even better! Take it a step further and tweet what you are capturing in real time using a conference-supplied hashtag if one exists. Many journalists are active on Twitter and could identify you as a potential source.
Follow up. If you met anyone from the media in person, regardless of whether they formally interviewed you, it’s important to follow up with them immediately after the conference ends. Don’t assume they are going to actually file your business card or remember you. Shoot a quick email or send a handwritten note that says, “It was nice to meet you at ABC conference. Keep in mind that if you need a source to speak about X, Y, or Z, you can reach me at…” Reporters are a lot more likely to search through their archived email than pull out a Rolodex!
Incorporating your company into media coverage surrounding industry conferences is not only a great way to maximize your investment in attending these events, it will also help create long lasting relationships with relevant reporters.
These are my conference and trade show PR tips. If you have others to share, leave a comment.