Best Practices For Promoting Products At Trade Shows

It's time to reflect on what worked and what didn't at CES 2016
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With CES 2016 in the rearview mirror, now is a good time to reflect on what worked and how we can improve our efforts in the future. Based on conversations with reporters during CES and post-show, it is apparent that one area that needs improvement is how companies and their public relations agencies communicate with the media.  

CES is a tremendous opportunity for exhibitors to promote their products. The show is the place to be seen and is often the focal point of a company’s PR campaign. However, for reporters covering CES, this can be a frustrating and overwhelming experience.  Think about it – 3600+ companies all vying for the attention of reporters.  

Can you say inbox overload?  Yes, that was a consistent theme - just too many emails.  Plus, the overall quality of press materials was simply subpar.  So, if you are wondering why most of the emails you sent did not generate a response, they were probably ignored. 

Here are some key areas reporters identified as needing improvement.

Spamming the Media

The No. 1 complaint was receiving information on products they don’t cover.  A reporter who writes about TV is not interested in the latest cell phone case.  There is an easy solution.   Take the time to cull the pre-registration press list to target only those outlets and reporters who are relevant. 

Timing is Everything

If December was the first time you contacted a reporter then you were already too late.  Media relations is a year-round tactic.  Make the effort to meet with or talk with your target reporters regularly to establish a solid rapport.

Poor Subject Lines and Vague Pitches

Reporters are skimming subject lines to see what pertains to them.   If it is vague, they hit delete. So, include key info on the product and keep it short.   And, make sure the pitch contains other important details such booth number and press contact. 

Poorly Written and Unnecessary Press Releases

Think about it, you are sending press releases to journalists, who earn their living by writing.  So, wouldn’t you want your releases to be well-written and compelling?  Reporters shared that many were so poorly written, they didn’t read past the first paragraph.  Releases are not ads or marketing pieces. They should be written more like a news story without fluff and superlatives, such as revolutionary and game-changing. Additionally, they should be newsworthy – focusing on major announcements, not minor enhancements.

Multiple clients listed in one email

I own a public relations agency, so I understand the challenge of promoting multiple clients during CES or any other trade show.  However, lumping them together in one long email pitch is not the right approach.  Not only does it short-change the clients, it puts a burden on reporters to read through information on companies and products they don’t cover.  

No one says it is easy to navigate working with the media, especially around a super trade show like CES.  But, taking the time to consider their needs, improving the quality of the information shared and being more strategic in how you communicate will go a long way in helping you build a stronger relationship with reporters who are important to your company.

Pam Golden is president of GLA Communications, which has provided PR services to consumer technology clients for 30 years. Pam has attended more than 40 CES shows.

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