Show stoppers: how PR agencies get the most out of trade shows

Trade shows are a fantastic part of the PR calendar. And for the IT, storage and virtualisation industries September is when it all kicks off. So what better time to look at the show season, and all that goes with it?

Shows can be so much more than setting up a stand and waiting for potential customers to come your way. Done right, they can be a central part of your PR activity.

They are a great way to reach out to journalists, analysts and bloggers in one, big (and very, very co-ordinated!) hit. But they are hard work. Never think PR agencies simply rock up to a show with no preparation, hand out mass-produced press packs no one will read and trust to luck they’ll bag a few briefings on the day.

Beneath the calm exterior of your ever-professional PR, most agencies are juggling multiple events for many different clients. They’re making sure each client has a hook for every event they attend, they’re managing news, briefing spokespeople and pitching to target media.

In the months before they’ll be working with their clients to select the best time to make announcements and agreeing messaging – crucial if they’re attending more than one show. They’ll be recommending demos for their clients’ stands and checking out speaking opportunities.

A good PR agency will try to build a relationship with the show organisers, they’ll be able to find out which journalists, bloggers and analysts will be there so their pitching is really targeted. They’ll be working out the best people from your organisation to speak to different members of the media and helping you to get every penny’s worth out of the show.

Briefings will be meticulously planned. Sometimes a client will have eight or nine briefings in a day (there’s no such thing as lunch-time when you’re at an event!), so there’s absolutely no room for error. Timetables are drawn up, meeting areas booked, press packs produced and journalists and spokespeople thoroughly briefed.

Show day starts early for a PR – managing last-minute changes to announcements and briefings, making sure everyone’s where they should be, and checking there are refreshments for every slot.

Throughout the day they’ll be dashing between briefings, following up extra information requests from the press, and they’ll be persuading journalists who are not yet on your schedule to come and speak to you.

They’ll be making a note of who you speak to and in the days that follow, monitoring coverage, dealing with extra enquiries and evaluating your PR presence at the show. By the time November rolls around it’s all over! Until next time…

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