Make the most of your ICAST trade show experience

By Posted in - Public Relations & Special Events on July 5th, 2012 0 Comments

Next week, I’m attending the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, also known as ICAST, in Orlando. I’ll be there with one of our amazing clients, Costa Sunglasses.

Photo courtesy of American Sportfishing Association

This event is where 7,000 members of the sport fishing industry from 63 countries convene to highlight new products for the angling community. It’s actually my sixth time attending ICAST, and I can tell you it’s one of my favorite shows of the year.

I commented recently on Ronell Smith’s Tackle Insider with some insight to his post about ICAST’s Best of Show process. You can read more about that discussion here:

I wanted to share with you today, though, some things I’ve seen over the years that’s made my ICAST experience, as PR manager for Costa Sunglasses, most successful for their brand.

1. Book media appointments in advance
ICAST lasts three days, and there are hundreds of magazine editors and bloggers walking the show floor scoping out the latest and greatest in the industry to report back to their readers. I’ve found that booking 30 minute meetings with the media outlets most receptive to learning about Costa’s new sunglasses and conservation initiatives not only helps me build a face-to-face relationship, but allows me to spend a few minutes talking with media about what they’re working on for the year and how I can help.

The show is so busy, that if I don’t book these meetings in advance, I more than likely won’t connect with the people I’d like to see.

2. Be prepared: Part 1
Because my meetings with media are so compressed, it’s important for me to know what I’d like to share with them and have my materials ready. I usually have the entire set of new styles out and ready to display, as well as any collateral material (video, photographs) of Costa’s conservation programs and films queued up and ready to roll. There’s no time to check to see if the video will work or to pull up a file – I have it ready when the editor pulls up a seat at the table. This helps me make the most use of my time with them.

3. Be prepared: Part 2
In addition to having my materials ready to discuss, I spend the weeks leading up to the show reading up on all of the latest issues and/or blog posts written by the people I’m meeting. (I make a point to stay current on the industry’s publications anyway, but especially so right before ICAST). This way, when the editors sit down to meet with me, I’m familiar with their audience, content and what type of material would make a good story for them.

4. Follow up
ICAST is a zoo. A fun zoo, but a zoo, nonetheless. Editors and bloggers are inundated with new product information from hundreds of companies, and it’s hard to stand out from the crowd amidst all of the noise. I take copious notes during my meetings and never fail to follow up with the people I met with during the show to provide them with the information we discussed in our meeting. It helps to solidify my relationship with them if I can make their job easier by sending them what we discussed before they have to ask for it.

5. Have fun!
Trade shows are a great way to get to know not just media members, but people within your own organization a little better. Nothing says “get to know you” like spending nine to 10 hours crammed into a tight booth in a convention hall. Some of my best work-related trips have been to trade shows. (A side related tip from a trade show veteran: bring a sweater – convention center temps tend to hover around the Arctic range).

Following these steps has allowed me to build some incredible relationships with media within the sport fishing industry. Full Circle PR is even a member of the American Sportfishing Association, the organization behind ICAST. It’s important for us to be a part of the community we serve.

What tips do you have for companies attending trade shows in terms of how they can make the most of their time there? And will I see you at ICAST next week? I hope so! Come by the Costa Sunglasses booth and visit me if you’re there.

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