Make Your Press Event the Star of the (Trade) Show
A trade show is a perfect platform for unveiling new products and making company announcements. Shows provide you with a built-in audience made up of customers, prospects and media personnel. What more could you ask for? Take advantage of this opportunity to generate buzz, increase press coverage and–ultimately–grow sales, by holding a press conference or media event. When it comes to pulling off a flawless event, it’s all in the details. Hark back to lessons from journalism 101 and cover your bases with the 5 Ws.
What are you announcing or unveiling? Don’t give the entire story away before the event. Rather, offer teasers with a promise of the full story at the event. The executives and product managers should be on hand to make statements and answer questions. You want to give the media all of the information and resources they will need when—hopefully—writing up a feature for publication or posting. Pass out press kits with news releases and images on memory sticks or CDs.
Don’t just pick a date and time spontaneously. Do some digging first. Ask the show organizers to send you a master list of all scheduled press conferences. You don’t want to compete for media attention. Also check the show schedule for any show-sponsored activities or seminars that may conflict with your event. Will your event take place during regular show hours or will it happen before or after the show opens for the day? There are pros and cons on both sides. If it is outside of show hours, check the hotel trolley/shuttle schedule to be sure transportation won’t be an issue for your invitees. It’s almost never a good idea to host a press event prior to the start of the show on opening day. Your media audience needs time to check in and obtain their press credentials. If you go with a press conference during show hours, choose a time when traffic is typically low as to not interfere with potential selling opportunities.
Ask the show marketing department for a list of registered media. Narrow that list to those individuals representing publications and sites you are targeting. Quantity is better than quality. There is no use in inviting everyone on the media list if half of them cover categories that don’t match your focus. Send the initial invitation two weeks prior to the event. Follow up seven days before the event. Finally, issue a reminder one day in advance. Personalize the correspondence for a better response rate.
Location, location, location. You have several options: your booth, a designated press conference room, a hotel suite or conference room off-site. Unless there are some special circumstances, on-site is always preferable to an off-site location. The benefit of having a press conference in your booth is the ability to demonstrate equipment on the spot. The disadvantage is that it may hinder regular booth traffic or draw a crowd of nosy competitors rather than interested media. Weigh the options to decide what is best for your particular circumstances.
Why are you holding this special event? Why should the media come? Find the angle that is going to intrigue the desired audience and give them a reason to show up. Does the new product offer a solution to a previously unmet need? Will the announcement revolutionize the industry? Remember to give them a taste of what you will cover without giving away the whole story. For early morning events, consider serving breakfast to provide motivation to get out of bed. For evening soirees, the allure of appetizers and/or cocktails may draw in more guests. After all, it doesn’t matter how you get them there, just that they come!