Best practices: Media relations and trade shows
As Shelley mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Full Circle crew already has a few trade shows and events under our belts for 2012. I had the chance to attend the International Builders’ Show in Orlando earlier this month and have also helped prepare our clients for other events this year.
While there are many moving pieces when preparing for and working a trade show, media relations becomes especially important during these events. This is our chance to meet some of the editors and journalists we work with in person, and it’s up to us to make sure our clients stand out among the thousands of other brands.
With this challenge in mind, here are five suggestions that I have learned to follow when working with the media at trade shows:
- Reach out early. Several weeks before the event, reach out to editors that you expect to attend the trade show. Send each a personalized note to each asking if they would like to set up a time to speak during the event to learn more about what they are working on with their publication and how you can help. Getting on a journalist’s calendar early is essential to being able to meet with them in person during a busy trade show.
- Give them an exclusive preview. When you first reach out to schedule appointments, have a “sneak peek” document prepared that gives editors a preview of the new products and company news they can expect to see in person at the trade show. Many journalists will be working on event preview articles for their publications, and you want to give them information that they will want share with their readers – and also see for themselves.
- Prepare your team. It’s important that the messages we share with the media are consistent with what other brand representatives are saying at the trade show. Meet several weeks in advance of the event to review key messages with each person who will attend with your client. It’s also a good idea to have “cheat sheets” on hand during the event with these key messages and potential FAQs.
- Take notes. It’s almost inevitable that you will be busy while on the show floor. With multiple meetings scheduled and trying to support the team, it will be easy to forget the details you committed to following up on after the event. Make sure you have a notepad and pen with you at all times, and keep the business cards you collect in a consistent place. At the end of the event, you’ll have a list of everything you need to do.
- Follow up. Send a thank you note to editors you met with after the trade show, and send them any materials you promised during your meeting. You may also want to send press releases and images to members of the media who were not able to attend or meet with you at the event to make sure they are up to date with your client’s activities.
Trade shows and events are a few of the most challenging – yet rewarding – projects we work on as public relations professionals. These are only a few tips for media relations at events, and I would love to hear from other PR pros with more trade show experience about what they do to prepare for and engage journalists at special events.