The PR value of trade shows ..
..is something that is regularly questioned. Especially as it is increasingly difficult to achieve successful media interactions at shows, as the media is shrinking while PR volume continues to grow. A well thought out strategy is therefore key to trade show PR success.
I recently dropped into the Cloud Expo Europe show and observed some interesting trends that PRs should consider when planning trade show activities.
Pick the right show
Visitor numbers to Cloud Expo have tripled in the last four years to more than 20,000 and the show floor did indeed feel very busy. This shows, that trade shows that are in line with industry trends are doing well and those that fail to keep up with the times are declining. So, when planning your trade show activities, make sure that you select a show that is on the rise.
Play to the right audiences
Tech shows are no longer the preserve of IT managers. This is because IT is increasingly seen as a business driver, rather than just a support function. Thus, buying decisions are no longer just made by IT Managers – instead they’re increasingly being made by the C-suite. So, it definitely pays to focus on business transformation stories rather product specs nowadays.
Think carefully about sponsorship opportunities
Conference organisers continue to monetize everything in sight. Last week’s events at London’s Excel had over 200 sponsors, from a total of around 500 exhibitors. But it is worth remembering that journalists aren’t interested in sponsors. So, before choosing to sponsor make sure it will add value, such as a main stage speaking slot or a byline article in the show magazine, because sponsorship on its own may add little from a PR perspective.
Make the most of speaking slots
A speaking slot is often presented as a differentiating factor for trade show exhibitors, but there were over 230 sessions in just 2 days at Cloud Expo. Media do make an effort to attend selected talks, but this is often driven by their personal interests. Therefore, ensure you target journalists carefully and well in advance. Also aim to arrange an interview as soon as they leave the stage – strike while the iron is hot!
Handle media outreach with care
Press releases announcing that companies are attending a trade show add little value. There is also little point manufacturing ‘news’ to provide an excuse to speak to media. One journalist told me last week that he focuses on interviews and attending talks and ignores press releases. This increases his chance of getting exclusive content. So, if you have a visionary speaker, maybe focus on promoting him or her rather than your new product.
Also, don’t leave your media outreach to the last minute. This tweet speaks for itself:
Me, right now, to all the PRs asking today if I have any free time to meet their clients at Cloud Expo/Datacentre World tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/WpP1FA5R1g
— Caroline Donnelly (@CarrotyD) March 14, 2017
Trade shows aren’t enough on their own
Trade shows have traditionally represented a company’s first foray into a new market, be that a new country, new vertical or a new company launch. For many start-ups, growing businesses and international companies exhibiting at Cloud Expo, it could well have been a sensible move. A trade show, however, shouldn’t live in a vacuum. To have an impact, a new market entrant should use a range of communications tactics and tools to drive business outcomes.
If you are interested in discussing any of the above, or would like to book a free initial consultancy session, please get in touch with me: Alastair.McCormick@akima.co.uk