8 Conference PR Tactics

It’s Showtime – Is Your Team Ready?

Social Media Week is coming to New York providing a mix of offerings and venues for marketers and media. In an ideal world, marketers and journalists work together yielding benefits for both.

Trade show PR is an important way to leverage the impact of a trade show by attracting additional PR. As a long-time columnist, I’ve found that some trade shows are magnets for bad media relations. Therefore, before you plan your conference show calendar, hire a new media relations manager or sign up a PR firm, check these eight points.

  1. Which shows are you planning to attend? What’s your rationale for selecting these conferences? How do they support your marketing plans? Are you looking to position your senior management team, get sales leads or set up business meetings?
  2. Who will attend the trade show? This should relate back to your overall game plan. The choice can vary based on your goals. Is it senior management, sales, or marketing? Does the executive have specific people that he or she wants to meet?
  3. What show related support is needed? Think broadly. This includes speech writing, presentation development, related collateral, booth signage, give-aways and additional staff. Don’t overlook the need for computers and flash drives. Are special dinners, parties or local tours for clients needed?
  4. Who’s attending the conference? Review the attendee list to plan ahead for who to contact before the event. This can include speakers, exhibitors, attendees and press. How does this relate to your overall show strategy?
    1. How do you plan to contact people before the show—direct mail, email or phone? How often?
    2. Do you have a plan for collecting contact information during the show? Check to see if the show issues barcoded attendee badges that you can scan. You don’t want your people to come back with a stack of business cards only to have them relaxing in a bottom desk drawer.
  5. What’s your primary press strategy? Are you planning to make a major announcement? Are there specific media sources that you want to engage? Do you have relationships with these entities?
  6. What’re your plans for handling other members of the press attending the show?
    1. Review the list to check for the ones that have mentioned your field or firm in past. If there are any, what were their points of view (were they positive or negative)? One recent request I received didn’t realize that I had recently referenced their firm in a long, high profile blog post.
    2. Do you just send a one-size-fits-all emailing? While not optimal, sometimes it’s necessary. If you do, make sure that your personalization is working. One recent inquiry addressed me as “Kate”. How do you spell irrelevant?
    3. How do you handle reporters who sp@m your email inbox? For me, press releases are sp@m because they don’t answer “What’s in it for me?”
    4. Does your media relations team look to build relationships for the long term? The idea is to use every contact to pay it forward.
  7. What’s your social media strategy for the conference? Have you created a special Twitter hashtag? Have you sprinkled your presentation with Twitter bait? Are you engaging with live bloggers? Are you creating on-site videos? Are you going to post your presentations on a slide sharing site?
  8. What’s your follow up plan? Create this strategy before you go to the show to ensure that it’s on-track when you return. The goal is to make sure that you contact and follow up with prospects and the press to build relationships and stay top of mind.

While I realize that in today’s work environment, everyone’s must deal with long to-do lists. But if trade shows and conferences are an important component of your firm’s overall communications strategy, then you need to give it your best shot to engage with the optimal people for your business and follow up to maximize your return on your efforts.

Are there any tactics that you suggest adding to this list? If so, what are they and why are they useful to include?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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Photo credit: bagaball via Flickr

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