How to Garner Media Attention at Your Next Tradeshow Exhibit

Media-CoverageWith buyers and sellers in one place and ready to do business, tradeshow booths set the perfect stage for marketing success. But there’s another actor whose role you may be forgetting or simply don’t know how to leverage: the media.

Obtaining press coverage can increase your return on investment and further expand your brand’s reach beyond just the event itself. While hiring a public relations professional can certainly be a great idea, here are some tips every event manager can use to maximize your opportunities for media coverage at your next trade show exhibit.

Set Goals for Your Media Strategy

Whether you are trying to increase awareness of a new product, strengthen your brand or something else altogether, you should determine clear goals for what you are trying to accomplish by obtaining media coverage. It’s best to have these goals and objectives well defined before you even begin to contact the media. Doing so will help you more clearly pitch a story or angle and help ensure any media coverage fits into your overall marketing strategy.

Start Making Contacts Early

If you wait until the trade show exhibit starts, you’ve already missed out. Establish relationships with reporters and bloggers weeks, or even months, in advance of the trade show. Find the reporter’s Twitter feed and follow them online. Link to them on LinkedIn. Friend them on Facebook. Once you’ve connected, start a conversation by commenting and sharing their stories.

Diversify Your Outreach

Don’t forget to target a variety of outlets. Yes, everyone wants to be in Time Magazine or on Good Morning America; but just like you walk before you run, start with local, regional and trade media outlets. A story about you in a trade publication can often result in more business than if you were in the mainstream media because you are reaching a highly targeted audience. Lastly, don’t overlook bloggers. Much of the news has moved online and many industry bloggers have a larger reach than your local newspaper.

Not Everything is Newsworthy

Just because you think its news, doesn’t mean the media will. A press release that simply states you’ll be at a trade show and includes the basic details won’t get a second glance. Increase your odds by thinking along the following lines:

  1. Trends: How does your product/service support or fit into a current trend in the industry?
  2. Counter Trends: How does your product/service support go against the grain of current trend in the industry?
  3. How is my product/service drastically different than my competition’s?
  4. Can you work your news into a numbered list? The media loves top 10 lists.

Journalists and bloggers are drowning in deadlines. As such they are much more likely to cover your company if they have an interesting or unique angle laid out for them. Make their job easy.

Review The Previous Year’s Media Coverage

While you can certainly send a generic email or press release to your whole Rolodex of news and media outlets, it’s more effective to have a few targeted organizations in mind. If you are not sure where to start when it comes to contacting media outlets, find out which reporters and news teams attended the your trade show booth last year. Sometimes, trade show management will provide a list. As it gets closer the event, check to see if they will provide the current year’s list as well. Keep in mind that not all outlets send someone in person to cover the trade show, so be sure to do some online research to see which ones covered it remotely.

Do Your Homework

Take some time to research the people on the press list. Read their stories. Learn what type of news they like to cover. It may sound like a lot of work up front for potential coverage, but it’s better than wasting your time giving an extensive interview to a media outlet that’s not the right fit for your marketing efforts.

Be Active on Social Media

While taking part in social media is a good idea throughout the year, your active participation can go a long way when it comes to garnering media attention for a trade show. Create a hashtag for the event, share your trade show booth location or tease a new product – the possibilities are endless. You can also provide images and video via social media to make it easier for journalist and bloggers to incorporate them into their coverage. Read 20 Tips for How to Use Twitter at a Trade Show for more ideas.

Invite the Media to Special Events

Media representatives like to eat, drink and be merry just as must as the next person. Why not invite them to send representatives to your opening and closing receptions, panel discussions or other trade show events? It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about your company and its products and services. It also goes a long way in building relationships for future media coverage.

Follow Up After The Trade Show Has Ended

Don’t just assume that if you talked to someone from the media they are going to cover, or even mention, you or your company. If you met anyone from the media in person, make sure to follow up soon after the event and reiterate that you would like to be a source if they need someone to speak about the event, a particular topic or specific angle.

The bottom line is to make sure you have clear goals and objective, make it easy for the media to obtain information about your company and the event and do so early on.

Peggy Swords

About Peggy Swords

Peggy Swords is the founder and president of Excalibur Exhibits, a $10 million Houston-based exhibit manufacturing and production corporation. Excalibur Exhibits designs, builds, delivers, assembles and disassembles as many as 300 exhibits per year. Swords was named as a finalist for NAWBO Houston 2003 Woman Business Owner of the Year and 2005 Enterprising Woman of the Year Finalist. Additionally, Excalibur Exhibits is a five time member of the Inc 5000, a three time member of the LSU100 and a two time member of the Houston Fast 100, a list of fastest growing privately held companies.