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Trade Shows Are Great For Public Relations, Too

Trade shows are a great place to meet face to face and build stronger relationships with your industry press.
Trade shows are a great place to meet face to face and build stronger relationships with your industry press.

A major strength of trade shows is the ability to meet face-to-face with many people in a short amount of time. Guess what — you can also build much stronger relationships by meeting face-to-face with your industry reporters, too.

Think about it — would your company ever pay to fly you around the country to visit all your industry press?  Well, if you’re a big enough company, yes, but for most of us, it’s just not going to happen.

But at your industry trade show, you’re there, your executives and subject matter experts are there, and so are the industry media.   It’s a match made in (convention center) heaven.

“Trade shows enable the most economical face-to-face meetings/product demos/introductions to company/organization execs in one place at one time,” says Lorelei Harloe, Principal, Ascend Communication, LLC.

“Trade shows also offer an editorial audience for major news announcements and new product rollouts or product upgrades.  Companies should maximize their PR opportunities at trade shows as they maximize their marketing and sales opportunities.”

Ah yes, but perhaps the idea of meeting the press scares you.  If so, relax.  Your industry press is not a hotbed of 60 Minutes reporter wannabees.  Instead, industry press become subtle advocates of the industry they cover.  They look for positive news about your industry, and if you can share your significant successes, innovation, or insightful feedback on trends, that’s news they want to hear.

So, how do you meet the press at your trade shows?  Prepare before the show by looking for the pictures of your favorite writers so you can recognize them at the show.  Their pictures are sometimes printed with their articles, and almost always on their publication’s website.  If you can, get the names of the pre-registered press, and call them before the show to set up an appointment.  Be sure to offer something newsworthy to get their attention.

At the show, find out what the badge color is for the press, and then look for that badge color on attendees in the aisle.  Train your trade show booth staffers to look for them, too and bring them to you, or to bring them to the top company executive in the booth.  Bring copies of a press kit, either printed or on a thumb drive, or have a link to an online press kit you can email them.

After show hours, look for the press at the show’s networking events, too.  You will both be more relaxed and less rushed — a perfect time to get to know them better.  I’ve found that writers are usually smart, often funny, and can be a great source of information on industry trends.  You’ll learn more from them than they will from you.

And it’s worth it.  The value of press coverage you get after the show may exceed the cost of the show itself.  Consider that when you get several articles placed, how much would it have cost to place ads the same size in those publications?  Plus, the articles arguably have more credibility to your audience than the same size ads.

Take advantage of the narrow window of time a trade show offers to meet face-to-face with your industry reporters.  You’ll build a relationship at the show that will benefit you and your company all year, and for years to come.

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About the Author

Mike Thimmesch was Skyline Exhibits' Director of Customer Engagement, for over 25 years. He is now retired and spends his time freelancing, traveling, and enjoying time with his family.

3 responses to “Trade Shows Are Great For Public Relations, Too

  1. Not only are companies overlooking the valueable PR you can get at tradeshows but also in the PR education world. Before interning at Skyline in Greenville I had only heard the term tossed around here and there in my PR classes. The benefits for companies who attend trade shows should definitely be discussed more in PR classes as well as business classes for students to bring that knowledge with them into the business world.

  2. Mike, Valuable information! Perhaps you’ve mentioned this previously…exhibitors may not be aware that the larger trade shows typically have a Press Room available. Exhibitors are welcome to either set up meetings or to drop off product kits for the attending press to review.

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