Bustling, hectic and a little chaotic – conventions can be overwhelming, but your media strategy doesn’t have to be. Conferences have long been platforms for new product launches and major company announcements. Riding the wave of show buzz is still a great way to fit your new service into a larger conversation, but it’s often a challenge to stand out from competitors with the same idea. As you’re planning your event schedule for the upcoming year, consider these PR tips for a successful launch from the expo floor:
- Educate yourself. Visit the PR section of the event’s website. Events often have a list of free opportunities you can take advantage of to create a little extra buzz onsite. Here’s an example from Interop, one of the upcoming shows I’m working on. Interop offers exhibitors exclusive access to the media list, inclusion in an official event press release (see last year’s) and PR counsel free of charge. That’s right—free counsel.
- Drop a line. Remember, event organizers are there to help, so don’t hesitate to contact them for advice. Event PR teams are in constant communication with press who are planning to attend. We can help distribute invitations to press conferences or other special events you’re planning to host at the show. You can even reach out for a simple introduction – then we’ll know exactly where to direct any media inquiries or interview requests.
- Know your media audience. If the show makes it available, get your hands on the pre-registered media list so you know which reporters are planning to cover the event. Get a hold of it early and don’t forget to check in weekly—press can wait until the last minute to register! These lists are helpful to see who you’re already familiar with, and which new relevant contacts you can introduce your company to. That said, be sure you thoroughly research each contact on the media list to make sure they regularly cover your company’s area of expertise, and only reach out to ones who are most relevant.
- Make your pitch newsworthy & personal. When drafting your pitch, provide some context around your new product. Rather than a message full of specs, try to fit your news into a larger theme or industry trend and explain what challenge the product solves—concisely. The more interesting the angle, the more likely media will want to meet. Also, no one wants to be on the receiving end of a generic email blast. Address media by name and refer to their recent articles.
- Hand-pick recipients. If you have truly breaking news, select an influential reporter to offer an exclusive, or set up a couple pre-brief interviews by phone—all under embargo until you make your big announcement. Otherwise, offer to share your news during face-to-face meetings onsite.
- Spread your news. When you’re ready to launch, tell the world about your new product and presence at the event. Write up your news in a press release and send it over a newswire service (I recommend PRNewswire) to reach the press. Don’t forget to include the event’s boilerplate, when and where the event takes place, your booth number, and a link to your website to help drive traffic. Continue the buzz on social channels, using the event’s official hashtag.
- Skip the bulky press kit. Don’t bring paper media kits onsite—embrace digital. If you want to point press to your announcement, send them a quick email with the text or have a shortened URL on hand. For other marketing materials, create an event landing page that includes information about your new product or pass out a loaded USB drive.
The timing and content of your announcement and outreach are key, but the most persuasive way to earn a media placement is to have a truly unique product or service offering. And even if your conversations with press don’t result in a feature article, your brand is now on their radar for future stories. Keep in touch and foster your new relationships.
Do you have success stories about past launches from events? What tips do you have to share? Here’s to a buzzworthy event cycle!