I’ve been to two trade shows over the last few weeks, supporting clients as they reach out to their own potential customers. Another client is heading to one at the end of this month.
Lunch! welcomes food and drink manufacturers to Excel in London. Saltex at the NEC is aimed at professional landscapers and groundspeople. The Painting and Decorating Show – well, you can imagine. While their audiences are different, they are very similar from a PR point of view. The same with most trade shows.
If you’re about to dip your toe in the trade show water for the first time, here are some simple tips on getting the most out of the PR opportunities:
The main trade press for events usually run previews, particularly if they are show partner titles. Featuring in these previews might incur a cost but they are not hugely expensive and are a great way to highlight your presence and your plans to your potential customers, before the show even starts. Send a press release to the editorial teams – keep it brief, communicate your stand number and send the wording with some good high res images – if you are launching new products or initiatives, shout about them! It might be possible to set up quick face to face interviews at the show, so do tell the media your news and suggest a coffee. But bear in mind a lot of others will be doing to same so don’t be offended if they can’t commit. Just suggest they drop by the stand if they have time.
Use the show logo and tell your social media followers that you are attending the show, tagging the event and using any hashtags the organisers are using. This gives you a better chance of being seen by a wider audience and also being shared by the organisers themselves. Look at who is following the show on social media and give some of the relevant businesses a follow, respond to any posts they share about attending and try to start connecting with them in advance. Take pictures and film things throughout the event, sharing content and tagging people (with permissions) wherever possible.
Most shows now have an online exhibitor portal for uploading your information. As part of that portal, there will usually be a press release section, where you can easily upload press information and images – often more than one. Use that option to upload the press release you send out to the media beforehand and add as many good quality images as you can.
The PR team
All event organisers have a press office and PR team – get in touch with them to enquire about additional opportunities. Some will share their expected attending media (titles, not specific contacts – GDPR) so you can target them with your preview release. Ask what media plans they have, whether there are filming opportunities and what social activities are taking place that you can tag onto.
Head to the show press office on the first day before the show opens and drop off some press information – this can be in a number of formats but it’s best to ask the PR team what they would prefer. Press releases are great but if you can leave brochures and product samples that’s even better. Keep popping along to the press office to check they have what you need, see if they have been busy and see who is there.
This depends entirely on your brand and the overall tone of the show. JNCK Bakery had a great stunt with their cookie ticket machine. The team also had a cookie monster, who enjoyed meeting other exhibitors and guests and really helped raise awareness of the brand in a memorable way – as well as providing some fun social media content. But stunts have to be right. If the brand or audience doesn’t fit, it’s not an essential.
Some of the media might be planning reviews of the shows afterwards. Or they might already be looking ahead to the next event they are attending! The fact that trade media have equally good online and print versions now gives you the option to send something afterwards, telling your audience what a success the show was. This can also be shared on your own social media feeds.
The good news is that trade shows are back in business again after a tough couple of years and based on the numbers at Lunch! and Saltex, they are just as good, if not better than before. They are hard work but great fun and worth every penny if done right. Of course, the main aim of these shows is to meet potential customers and build your business face to face, but PR is part of the overall sales process so should not be ignored. Taking just a little time to cover it off, or having a PR consultant alongside you, can help to amplify the success and maximise the investment you have made.