Creativity at Trade Shows

Attending

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trade shows can be expensive. So? Get creative!

trade showsAttending trade shows and providing advertising and PR services is a business of mine. My partners and I used to be at about 30 to 40 shows a year, working with the show management and individual exhibitors on generating visibility and recognition as well as producing video for multiple display units spread throughout the convention facility.

Making sure local media were invited to major show events and allowed access to important speakers and panel members are always a key role of our responsibilities.

If hired by an exhibitor, one of the orchestrated elements of our PR-contracted involvement at each show is walking the floor looking for “Press” badges. They are almost always a different color than attendees, vendors or exhibitors. We will constantly watch the pressroom for media reps happening by to pick up show info or individual press kits as sponsors, exhibitors or vendors might leave them. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that these professionals are seeking information and contacts. They want to know what’s happening and when. While not necessarily “easy pickins,” they are actually hungry for material and usually quite cooperative and friendly.

I often wonder if PR reps in attendance with an exhibiting company realize the incredible opportunity that virtually passes them by. Dozens and dozens of key industry reporters are in attendance at every show and they are there for one reason: get stories and unique information about exhibitor booths that may have special or distinctive products that specialty or even mass audiences will find interesting and valuable. Each exhibit booth contains the CEO and Marketing Director obediently watching the crowds, smiling and nodding as thousands pass by. In among those thousands of passers-by are dozens wearing those colorful, special badges clearly labeled “Press.”

It’s not just the hand-shaking and chit-chat on the floor that makes chances increase that you’ll get attention. It’s knowing where the special events are, especially the ones you didn’t choose to attend. Now they get to have special meaning. Does the word, “work” suddenly come to mind?

Could your missed opportunities be happening while one of your competitors brought in a competent, experienced PR team to leverage the show’s media list, capitalize on local media and orchestrate news coverage? Could be, do you think? While attending trade shows can get expensive, getting good, solid media attention in the right pubs can easily justify costs. This seems pretty logical and even unsophisticated in terms of basic PR/Media relations.

Yet few company honchos think about it, no less leverage the extraordinary PR opportunities in existence at most trade shows.

Trade show PR can be a strategic science if approached with pre-planning and assumptions of opportunity in mind. Yes, it takes a little aggressive outreach and some creativity, but the PR rewards can be exceptional. Put the front-end effort out, look for every media opportunity at your outstretched hand and the payoff in having several stories come your way is like money in the bank.

For every news release and scheduled interview at the upcoming show where you have a booth, there are probably ten or more unplanned but waiting opportunities if you just get off your butt and make it happen.

by Neil Kuvin

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