Public Relations

How to Get Media to Notice You at Trade Events

By Caitlin New

The biggest event of your industry is right around the corner. Your company has shelled out tens- to hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to attend and create a space that looks sharp and attractive to prospect customers. Your group has the job of getting media to agree to spend time with you over the hundreds of other companies that have clogged their inboxes.

Here is what you can do to put your best, tradeshow-appropriate (preferably comfortable shoed) foot forward.

Choose your draw and make a whole strategy around it.

There is more to an event media strategy than asking for on-site interviews. There should be a focused theme and strategy. What is the news angle that you will plan your activities and messages around? Is it interesting and will it rise above the noise? Are you tying it to a bigger trend or company story? Don’t make it all about you and instead, show you fit somewhere relevant in the broader conversation.

Make your news creative.

If you have a big product, partnership or customer development materialize within a few months of the event, save it for the show. But don’t just plan an announcement. Get creative! Everyone makes announcements at tradeshows—everyone. The big events are magnets for hundreds of thousands of press releases. Some less traditional ways of creating news at an event include:

  • video or GIF announcement released on your website and social channels.
  • Blog posts with catchy images.
  • Original surveys or reports studying a hot industry trend combined with or in the place of your company-related news.
  • A mysterious ad campaign that includes sponsored event signage and artwork strategically placed around the tradeshow combined with similar mysterious digital ads across social platforms that hints at your news before you announce it. This may be costly but can be effective if you avoid being corny.

Create a compelling argument for media invitations.

Expect that reporters will have seen the subject line “Meet at Show ABC?” and opening line “I noticed you were attending Show ABC and I wanted to see if you’d like to meet with YET ANOTHER VENDOR” at least a few hundred times if you’re reaching out early. How can you offer a unique reason for them to meet with you? In addition to a cool demo, consider adding other compelling draws, like inviting a customer to join you at the event and in interviews or ensuring access to exciting visuals they can share with their readership. Media are always looking for interesting video and photo opps, and customer interviews are gold mines.

Where to find the media

You should start reaching out to media at least a couple of months before a big event, if not sooner depending on just how competitive the show is. Chances are, you’re an exhibitor and most event organizers will share a media attendee list with exhibitors if you ask for it. If you don’t have access to a media registration list, put on your investigative hat and start searching.

The following methods can prove fruitful:

  • Search on social media. Find the event hashtag and search Twitter for top users tweeting about the event. Sometimes, journalists will announce they’ll be covering the show and are looking for interesting demos to see while they’re there.
  • Research the prior year’s event coverage to see which publications sent journalists last year and reach out to gauge this year’s plans.

If you’re already at the event and want to increase your reach while you’re there, consider the following:

  • Run a paid social media campaign that targets people with journalist or editor titles in their bio and who are using the event hashtag. Use a cool video of your demo, highlight your news, and don’t forget to say how they can find you. You might just reach a few people who take interest in what you have to share.
  • Follow your target media on Twitter and if they share anything relevant to your client, reach out in a friendly, non-invasive way to invite them to stop by your demo. Day-of pitching works!
  • Speaking of day-of pitching, don’t be afraid to respectfully approach a journalist who walks by to see if you can engage face-to-face.

The most important thing to remember during this entire process is that in addition to considering your company’s goals, think about what the media is searching for so you can shape your strategy around that. If you meet the media in the middle, you might experience a more accepting and excited audience in them.