Inviting editors to your trade show booth — what you need to know

Trade show season is here, and you’re probably busy getting everything ready. In addition to the hundreds of details you’re amid planning, don’t forget about public relations. Your competitors are vying for editorial coverage and the attention of industry editors. If you don’t get started now, you could be left out. 

Amber and I will be providing tips for editor booth visits and how you should follow up after the show in the future, but today I want to talk about getting editors to your booth. 

Start by asking yourself: “Do we have something to say?” 
New products are always a draw, but if you don’t have any to show off, consider other topics worth discussing with editors. Can you offer them some market intelligence? Or, perhaps you’ll have a few customers at the show that would be willing to chat with editors on your behalf? 

If you can’t come up with something, don’t invite editors to your booth. They are busy people, and a “stop-by for just a visit” invitation will not help you grow your relationship with them in the future. 

Get a list of which editors will be there
Most trade shows have a staff member dedicated to maintaining a list of registered media. Find out who that person is — the best way is to visit the trade show’s website and look for contact information under a “press” tab or search under “exhibitor information.” Once you have a name and contact information, send that person an email to request a copy of the registered media list. 

Prioritize the list
Do not invite every person on the registered media list to your booth. Research the publications and editors represented on the list, and then you need to categorize them by which titles your customers are most likely reading. If your customers do not engage with a particular magazine, then you shouldn’t meet with the magazine’s representatives at the show. 

When to send an invitation
Invitation timing can vary depending on the size a show and the anticipated demand on editors’ time. For smaller niche shows, 3-4 weeks out is ideal. For large shows like CONEXPO-CON/AGG, 6-8 weeks is a better option that way you can get the visit on their calendars before everyone else starts sending them invitations. 

Craft the Invite
Send them a real email — not a mass email that you blind-copy them on. 

  • Personalize the email.
  • Let them know you’ll be exhibiting at the show, as well as that you have something at the show that may be of interest to their audience. 
    • Give them a little detail about what you want to visit with them about but don’t tell them everything. Save the big details for the show. 
  • Ask if they would like to schedule a time or stop by. 
    • Some editors like to schedule out their days, while others just have a running list of people they need to meet. 
  • Give them your booth number and location. When it’s time for them to visit your booth, don’t make them look up your booth number. 
  • Provide them with your onsite mobile phone number and let them know if it’s okay to text you. 
    • Things come up editors can’t make their scheduled time, or they can’t find you in a busy booth. Make sure they can reach you at the show.
  • Thank them for their consideration and let them know you’ll be happy to answer any questions they have. 

Response and Follow-up
After you send your invitation, give editors a bit of time before getting nervous about them not getting back you. They receive a lot of invitations, and they have to coordinate their schedules with others in their organization. If you haven’t heard from editors that you have identified as being important, follow-up after one week. 

When an editor does get back to you with a time that works for them, respond quickly to confirm or offer an alternative meeting time. Get it locked down while they are thinking about it. 

Keep a schedule
Make sure you keep an organized schedule of editor appointments. You should have the day and time they are coming by, along with contact information. Also, keep a list of who plans to stop in and give a copy of the schedule to everyone responsible for meeting with editors at the booth.

Odds and Ends
Here are a couple of random notes you should also keep in mind when preparing to meet with editors at a trade show: 

  • Don’t ask for more than 30 minutes of an editor’s time. 
    • Editors are busy and don’t have time for you parade them around the booth for an hour. 
  • Don’t expect multiple editors from the same media organization to make separate visits to your booth. 
    • Again, they are busy and have a lot of people to see. Be respectful. 
  • If a media rep shows up instead of an editor, it’s okay. 
    • At big shows, everyone inside a media organization needs to chip in. 

In our next post, we’ll discuss what you should do with editors at your booth.