For most defense contractors, trade shows are enormously important for generating leads, learning about upcoming contracts and closing sales.
However, with additional planning, trade shows can generate press coverage for your company to increase booth traffic, brand awareness, leads and website visits.
In an Exhibitor Magazine article, several PR pros outline how to increase your company’s chances of press coverage both during, and long after the show.
- Find your audience – ask the show organizer for a list of preregistered press attendees and then analyze the list to determine what beats they cover. Otherwise, start with online research to see which news organizations covered the show in the past. PR news directories are also a good source for building media lists.
- Craft your message – The press message needs to be concise and of interest to their readership. This may be a slightly different message from what your sales people will be delivering to their prospects.
- Notify the masses – In addition to personalized e-mails and press kits, also take advantage of paid newswire services, as well as social media.
- Book interviews – Don’t expect the media to contact you or stop by your booth because you invited them. Contact them and offer to meet for coffee or lunch, but offer a compelling reason for them to meet with you. Make sure you have the right executive from your firm ready to meet with the press.
- Assemble your kit – Mail the kits out before the show. At the show, put the materials on a company-branded USB drive and leave them at the press room, but also be prepared to distribute them if the press stops by your booth.
- Set goals – Your CEO will have established trade show sales, so make sure to manage expectations with measurable media-related goals.
- Get involved – If the show has conference or educational components, try to get your company to offer content or to be on a panel discussion, and invite the press. Similarly, enter your company in relevant show award competitions, and if you win, issue a release.
- Train your staff – Be mindful that booths are often staffed by salespeople more interested in prospects than the press. If you are not able to train the booth staff in press relations, have them direct the press to your company’s designated press liaison.
- Prepare your exhibit – The press might visit at your booth, so make sure there’s a quite, comfortable place to talk, refreshments, and product samples.
- Continue the conversation – Think of the trade show press contact as the beginning, not the end of the conversation and your company’s relationship with the press. Follow up on every journalistic contact made at the show.
- Measure the results – Track media impressions, including original articles and reposts. Check web analytics to see how press coverage affected website traffic. Issue a report to management, including a qualitative overview of the show’s media activity.
- Conduct a postmortem - Gather everyone together who worked at the booth or helped with media activity, find out what worked and didn’t work, and incorporate that feedback into future trade show media planning.
Click on the following link to read the full article, Media Relations: 12 Steps to Press Success, written by Exhibitor Magazine's managing editor, Lena Valenty.