Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Case for PR at Trade Shows

Managing media and our clients' overall message at trade shows is one of the most impactful and cost-effective services we provide.

Any way you look at it, trade shows are expensive. But in spending all of that money to develop a booth, ship product, train and send personnel to the show, prepare collateral (etc., etc., etc!) it only makes sense to look at every way to maximize your investment so that it yields the greatest return.

Getting the most from your trade shows requires a strategic approach that will attract prospects and generate interest in your company and your products. And, since trade shows are tremendous magnets for the media that cover your particular industry, it behooves you to work with the journalists in attendance to make sure they know and understand your messages, and have the latest news on your products, so they can carry it all forth for you into the broader marketplace.

Yet, many companies simply send their salespeople to the show, and hope that the media takes notice.

Regina Ragone, food director at Family Circle Magazine hits the nail on the head: "At food trade shows, for example, we'll see sales people at booths and displays — but no PR people will be in sight. I think that's a problem. I think you really should have a media relations presence onsite and it shouldn't be relegated to sales."

R&J Public Relations has designed a three-step program that helps our clients reach both journalists and key prospects – those in attendance as well as those not in attendance - before, during and after the show.

Well in advance of the show, we work with our clients to develop messaging and strategies. We conceive and plan special promotions in and around the show booth. We schedule editorial interviews, and develop press kits and other materials. To bring it all home, we conduct media training for key spokespeople, helping them to be comfortable and to “own” the message.

At the show, we coordinate and supervise meetings with journalists. We not only distribute press kits, we “work” the press room and the show media (“daily” magazines, television, Internet and radio). We compile competitive intelligence, and see to it that our clients are nominated for show awards. And we are on-site with our clients to assist them in all aspects of their communications efforts at the show.

Following the show, we conduct intense follow-up with the press, and fulfill all editorial requests for information. We engage the press to get our clients featured in post-show editorial coverage. If it is appropriate, we will undertake a post-show media tour.

Not all trade shows require this full-blown effort. But it makes tremendous business sense to prioritize the most important shows, and focus your resources on those. A good rule of thumb is, if the top media that cover your industry are going to be at a trade show, then your PR agency should be there with you as well.

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