Do you know what keeps me up at night? No, it’s not my upcoming wedding plans or the running Excel sheet of costs that once resembled a budget. All jokes aside–it’s the fact that many Business-to-Business (B2B) companies are failing to realize the Public Relations (PR) value of an industry trade show.
B2B industry trade shows, to put it plainly, are a PR professional’s dream.
Industry trade shows provide a unique opportunity for a brand to connect directly with its target audience, showcase its products and services, and, yes, join the news cycle. Consumer brands understand all too well the power of a good trade show presence, yet many of today’s B2B brands still hesitate to jump on the PR trade show bandwagon. Trust me, it’ll be worth your investment when you see your company spotlighted in your industry’s top trade publication. Talk about brand visibility!
There’s just so much more to a trade show than having an eye-catching booth display or hands-on product demonstration; there’s the opportunity to allow your products and services to become the news. We recommend that our clients join the conversation early and focus their PR initiatives (and in many cases, marketing efforts) on capturing the attention of the media right from the get-go. Here are three tips to help grab the media spotlight.
- Create Conversations
My colleague, Chelsea Metzger, recently blogged about the importance of integrating PR tactics into the trade show marketing mix and I couldn’t agree with her points more. Distributing press releases, pitching media interviews, and participating in speaker sessions will no doubt increase buzz on the trade show floor–and within the media community. Competition is fierce at a B2B trade show and every company will be fighting to drive both booth traffic and news coverage. You need to be strategic and create chatter among the trades. The news cycle for a B2B trade show often starts weeks before the show and—you guessed it—ends weeks after. By creating a regular cadence of news and pitching trade journalists often, you’ll help keep your company top of mind.
Distribute a sponsorship or booth overview release a few days before the show to give trade journalists and attendees a better idea of what to expect when they get there. Focus on giving your biggest announcements, especially product announcements, on the first day of the trade show. Then on the following days, consider announcing contests, demos, and/or speaker sessions. Don’t forget to submit your best news to the trade show daily newspaper and if you have budget support, enter your products into the product showcases. On the final day, announce your new business wins or recap your company’s performance at the show—or you can even look to make this announcement a few days after the show to extend the news cycle a bit further.
- Showcase Your Customers
Who’s better to speak to your products and services than someone who actually uses them? When it comes to B2B, “hero” customers are the real moneymakers. Whether it’s a notable new business win or a long-term, happy customer who’s willing to share some thoughts on his or her experience with your company, the voice of the customer is always an influential component of a well-developed news story. With the right story, you can increase your chances of media pick-up and showcase your abilities as a business partner, which often supports lead generation goals. Find a customer and draft a press release, write a case study, film a customer testimonial, and, most importantly, include all of these materials in your press kit. You could even invite those customers to stop by your booth to tell their stories “live” for additional trade show buzz.
- Mingle with the Press
Media interviews are alluring, but you can’t downplay the importance of relationship building. While I typically applaud aggressive pitch efforts, remember that trade journalists are humans, too! Sometimes, they want to put their computers down and relax. Consider holding a company-sponsored media breakfast or host an after hours event to give them the opportunity to interact with your company and its Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) on a more informal level. Keep talking points to a minimum and rely more on basic human interaction. For extra attendee draw, you can consider bringing in industry influencers to speak on vendor-neutral topics or simply offer fun incentives such as networking opportunities, phone charging stations, and, yes, free food!
Are you ready to create some buzz at your next B2B trade show? To learn more about Martino Flynn’s PR capabilities, please email Jenny Lesczinski at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 585.421.0100.