A PR team getting ready for a trade show can be like athletes prepping for the big game. There’s a game plan to follow, other teams to beat, fans to impress, and, most of all, a drive to score and score big.
Conferences and shows are always a good opportunity for companies to meet with a captive audience of media, including both familiar faces and new contacts. It can be quite chaotic, though, so it’s important to have that plan nailed down before you get there.
View and review. It’s vitally important to look back and see what your team did last year, if relevant. Compare last year’s plan/results to what you’re aiming to accomplish this time. Make sure you get all current media and attendee lists from the show operators, and it usually pays to befriend the PR rep.
Do the message drill. Spend the weeks leading up to the show finalizing your key messaging and announcements. Decide on your most critical goals and topics, whether a new product, an updated brand identity, or an innovative new path, and make sure everyone buys in to the strategy. There should be no surprises about what you need to accomplish.
Check out the competition. Research which competitors are attending, and what they are up to. Are any of them holding events, announcing new products/services, or doing something out of the ordinary? Plan accordingly. It also helps to ask the first wave of media you meet what has impressed them the most; most of us operate in a client bubble at a show or conference, and it helps to know who’s talking about what.
Prep your star players. Make sure your key spokespersons are ready and that they’ve got the game plays down. They should be comfortable speaking to media and being on camera. You will also want to go over their schedules and prepare detailed briefing books on all journalist meetings, complete with cell phone numbers. Leave nothing to chance.
Pace yourself! Trade shows (especially ones that last multiple days) can take a lot out of you – hours spent on your feet, back-to-back meetings, very little down time – so rest up during the days leading up the show.
Pack some essentials. In addition to comfortable shoes, always have mints or gum on hand to avoid dreaded dry mouth, some emergency RX to ward off aches and pains. Also, make a point to learn some things about the town you’re visiting. You may want to talk about your client, but you could impress a visiting reporter with your tips on a great bar or restaurant.