Planning PR efforts for trade shows

Trade show season is nearly here — ISA in August, ICUEE in September and GIE+EXPO in October, to name a few coming up in the next couple of months. For many of our clients, they have been planning their company’s exhibit space and product displays for months. Brochures are being printed, equipment is being shipped and hotel and flight reservations have been made.

At a glance, it would seem as if these marketers have thought of everything. But, have they really?

As a PR professional, I find that they often haven’t put the same time into planning their public relations efforts at a show as they do in planning their booths, only to find themselves a few weeks away from the event and scrambling to cobble something together.

Let me say this to those marketers: A well-planned and well-executed trade show PR strategy can help your company and products attract positive press coverage, even among competition from hundreds of other exhibitors. Trade shows offer you the unique opportunity to gain publicity within your target markets — trade shows provide businesses the rare occasion that your company’s executives can sit down one-on-one with media and make personal connections. From a PR perspective, it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

So, my advice is: If your company has a new product to unveil or a big announcement to make, timing it with an industry trade show can really maximize your PR exposure for the rest of the year.

Planning your trade show PR efforts doesn’t have to be a scary task. There are three main ways to engage media at trade shows: Press Kits, Press Conferences and Media Visits. In this post, I’ll breakdown what goes into developing a press kit…stay tuned for future posts on press conferences and media visits!

Developing a Press Kit

A great way for you to promote your company’s latest news and product advancements at a trade show is with a press kit. Here are a few tips about what to include in your company’s press kit:

Press releases — only include information on new or recently released products and announcements.

  • Include contact information and the release date on the announcement.
  • Target the message of the release to your primary audience.
  • Keep your releases as short and concise as possible, including a full description of your product.
  • Avoid developing releases that sound too much like advertisements, mention competitive manufacturers or make false claims.
  • The media greatly appreciates receiving electronic copies of the press releases, as well as the hard-copy versions, in your press kit.

Booth number — this will make it easier for editors to find your company.

Quality photography — if you want to increase the chances of getting press coverage, include photos of your products in your press kit. Digital photos saved to a CD are the best format for trade publications. Photos should be saved as JPGs for Web and online use.

A folder to hold the contents — you can use a company pocket folder, USB drive, envelope or a CD to keep all of your information together in one place.

  • Remember, the editors attending a trade show receive press kits from many different companies, so it’s a good idea to avoid bulky kits that will be awkward to carry home in their luggage.

Most trade shows have a dedicated press room with a designated area for editors to pick up exhibitors’ press kits — if the trade show you are attending has a press room, be sure to leave your kits with the press room attendant to make sure your company’s information gets in front of industry editors!