In the 24/7 tech world, companies can easily get caught up in day-to-day communications activities. Instead of focusing on what’s in front of you, take a forward-looking approach. Thinking about what’s coming up in the months ahead and taking the time for advance planning is essential to maximizing news cycles for some of the industry’s biggest events such as IoT World, CES and Mobile World Congress. Below are three best practices for developing a successful tradeshow communications strategy.
#1: Think 3 Months Ahead
Not planning far enough ahead of time is probably the biggest issue I see with clients. It’s not that companies don’t want to start planning early; they don’t stop to realize how long it may take to get approvals on the stories they most want to tell around tradeshows – new customers, success stories or new product announcements. Often the timing of when customer announcements actually happen is out of their control, and product availability can delay a launch announcement.
If you don’t already have a customer announcement or two in the works when starting to think about an upcoming tradeshow, you’ll need back-up announcements that you can better control such as a momentum announcement. Starting the planning process early also allows for time to solidify what your company’s goals are for the event. This includes confirming who from your company will be attending, and how much time they will have to meet with press and what that attendance looks like. Knowing this information at least 8-10 weeks in advance gives your PR team the time they need to plan the best announcement strategy while also considering other activities outside of announcements to raise your company’s visibility. It also leaves time for targeted media training before the event, which helps spokespeople focus and stay on message. This extra preparation increases your chances of getting your ideal story.
#2: Distribute Announcements Ahead of Tradeshows
Competing for press coverage with industry giants doesn’t set up your company or your PR agency for success. To avoid much of the noise, it’s best to make announcements before the actual tradeshow begins; not one week prior, but two, to avoid getting lost in the sea of show pre-briefings. This means you’ll need to have messaging finalized much earlier than expected for your company’s pre-briefings. If you wait until the week before a show for pre-briefings or just brief a few reporters at events, your company’s news might only be covered in some round-up articles if you’re lucky.
Utilize time at conferences to build or strengthen media relationships and meet with industry analysts. Think about adjacent stories you want to seed with reporters that support your company’s messaging and follow-up after the conference to continue the conversation.
#3: Involve Your PR Agency in the Process
Pitching for press and analyst briefings around tradeshows starts months in advance. When reporters talk about being pitched for a conference on Twitter, you’re already late to the game in reaching out. Even with strong media relationships, if schedules are full by the time reporters are pitched, there’s nothing your PR team can do but cross their fingers and hope for a last-minute cancellation – even if your company has a great story to tell.
Involving your PR agency early in the planning process for tradeshow announcements is beneficial in other ways too. As a strategic advisor, Witz Communications assesses our clients messaging from an objective perspective. We provide guidance as to what a reporter or analyst may ask upon reading company announcements and how to bolster messaging. We also develop formal FAQs for clients in preparation for announcements so spokespeople are aligned on messaging across the company.
For more advice on your tradeshow PR strategy, contact Witz Communications.
Leslie has extensive experience developing and managing PR programs for leading technology brands as well as for innovators. Dell, SAP, InnoPath and Venturi Wireless have been among her clients. Leslie’s background encompasses both agency and in-house experience in the mobile infrastructure, telecom and enterprise markets. She has managed business and consumer product launches, created and managed strategic communications programs, and delivered high-impact results in the media, including The New York Times, Forbes, Mashable and more. With her ability to develop campaigns that integrate social media and traditional media, her flair for positioning and message creation, and her ability to manage successful events, Leslie helps clients rise above the noise and stake out their market positions