Kevin Dorrian, director of B2B public relations firm Acumen, has spent many years promoting companies at industrial and trade exhibitions. In this article, he talks about how to maximize the PR opportunities at trade shows.
Memo to the marketing manager! Why are you willing to commit thousands of pounds showcasing your wares at a trade exhibition, getting the appropriate exhibition collateral together, yet often ignore that an exhibition presents you with a fantastic opportunity to maximise the enormous PR potential to get you noticed above everyone else in the exhibition hall?
Whether you take a stand at an internationally renowned trade exhibition or a small niche exhibition, you exhibit for one reason. You want to generate new business sales and increase the bottom line!
Having attended hundreds of trade shows across the UK and Europe in the past fifteen or so years, either as a casual observer or creating a strong PR platform for a client, I am amazed that more companies don’t treat the show as a genuine public relations opportunity to get journalists to make a beeline for the exhibition stand.
Take the press office for example. Why get a PR consultancy or in-house person to write and prepare press packs, present them to the show press office or show organisers office and end up binning them after the show has finished?
Realistically, if you produce thirty press packs, you’ll want thirty press packs delivered into the hands of those who want to know more about you and your services. Ask yourself, why wasn’t yours picked up, read and acted upon?
Equally, product launches and press conferences held during an exhibition should be effectively managed with nothing left to chance.
Here you have a fantastic opportunity to get a strong message across to the media, so you need to be in a position to make the most of it by good liaison with journalists, ensuring their diaries are cleared and don’t clash with other events which may take them elsewhere.
Planning a strong PR platform for your exhibition attendance, should be started a good two-three months before the show starts. Keeping in touch with the exhibition organisers is paramount.
If the show is linked to a particular trade sector, then ensure you have a means of checking the editorial forward features list of the trade media, so you can track and monitor the requested editorial deadlines for any show previews.
If you really want to get involved, what are the possibilities of your MD speaking at an exhibition seminar? Speak to the organisers.
The devil is in the detail when it comes to the preparation of press material.
Keep a keen eye on ensuring any press releases, editorial feature material and case studies are genuinely newsworthy. Remember the object of this very important exercise is to attract media attention. You are in the same situation as hundreds of other companies participating at the show, so your information needs to catch the eye quickly and effectively.
If you would rather outsource this to a PR consultancy, take some soundings from a few of them. There are PR companies that specialise in providing exhibition PR support. Their experience will be invaluable to you.
Your budget needs to work hard though, to give you an optimum return on your investment. You must ensure they’ll be proactive, only appoint senior staff to work on your business and have the ability to translate your key messages into a solid exhibition PR strategy that will deliver the required results.
Post exhibition, you’ll want to evaluate your PR strategy and pinpoint the deliverables.
With a twin approach of your exhibition stand support staff dealing with ‘on-stand’ enquiries and disseminating sales literature, coupled with a solid PR support platform to drive the awareness campaign, you should generate a good amount of sales enquiries which will keep your sales team busy in the months ahead.
Many businesses and organisations exhibit because participating at a trade show is seen as a core function within the marketing budget spend.
Keep on top of these PR opportunities and its safe to say, your participation should reap the benefits.
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