The Four Ps for trade show PR success

The Four Ps for trade show PR success

Tom Reynolds

Tom Reynolds

As we head into March, many PR professionals will be thinking about the various trade shows that take place across the UK. They are great for meeting prospective customers, current customers, journalists and partners. But how can you make the most of the opportunity?

Before you even start any planning or event management for any show, you must first consider your business objectives and what you want to achieve from the show. How does this event link in with your long term business goals and what do you want to see as an end result?

Getting the basics right from the get go is essential and we have a formula for that. Inspired by the 7 Ps of marketing, we have our very own 4 Ps of trade show PR success:

Pitch

The pitch you give to media, prospective customers, current customers or general consumers visiting your stand is vital in how your product or service comes across. Remember you need to be sure that your pitch is relevant to your audience - ie a journalist will have a different interest to a prospective customer.

You might say it can revolutionise the future of your industry, but why not show them how it can? Reckon you’ve got the fastest widget in your industry? Show them by comparing it to your competitors.

I once attended a stand at a hospitality trade show, in which I was given a thoroughly boring talk about the uses of VR headsets in the hotel industry. It only got interesting when they let me put the headset on. Incorporate your sales/marketing pitch with a live demo and you’ll wow them every time, showing the full range and capability of your offering.

[caption id="attachment_9252" align="aligncenter" width="590"]The Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset, as seen at CES 2015 The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, as seen at CES 2015[/caption]

Our tips

  • Spend some time setting the scene so that everyone understands the broader context and where your product fits in
  • Have plenty of interaction and audience participation; include a live product demo to back up any points or claims you make

People

The best spokespeople for new products are often the people who have made or developed the product themselves. These are the people who lived and breathed the R&D of your product on its journey to the market. They’ll know every single detail, ranging from niche technical features to the main benefits. And because it's been their life for the past 18 months, chances are they'll have something that always appeals to the media: passion!

The media are very different to speak to compared to your customers, so you need to consider what journalists want to hear. They’ll want to know make it into a story for their readers so will focus on the newsworthiness.

Our tips

  • Practise and prepare for everything, develop a Q+A for any questions you might get, especially for comparisons with your competitors
  • Have clear messaging for both customers and the media. The media won’t want to be ‘sold’ to
  • Develop articulated story outlines, especially for different media types (trade vs consumer)
  • Leverage any relationships you have with business partners, customers or other stakeholders. This can be anything from reciprocal tweets to shout outs in keynote presentations
  • Make sure you have someone responsible for PR at the show all the time. They don't have to stay on the stand, but they'll need to be easily accessible. And switch things around a bit with a rota, to keep everyone fresh

Product samples

One thing to always have available, if possible, is product samples for the media to take away with them. Journalists can be very competitive when getting samples, and like to have products over a good period of time in order to test them out and provider a view that would resonate with their readers. From a reviews perspective this is particularly helpful as you can do a bulk of your sampling at a trade show and have reviews hit not long after.

Our tips

  • Be aware of rivalry between publications and distribute samples as fairly as possible – not giving a product to one publication over another could damage your relationships
  • If you don’t have samples, create a tiered waiting list for those interested
  • Ensure you provide all information, such as specifications, pricing and availability (so many companies try to launch products without these three things)

Patch

Your patch (i.e. your stand) is key to drawing people in and you need to stand out from the crowd. Trade shows are busy and being bland risks you just blending in. It’s worth remembering that your stand is a prime piece of PR estate, giving you the chance to conduct some PR research, surveying people to create a story after the show. With high people traffic to the stand, it’s a good opportunity to catch people you might not always get much face-time with – i.e. company executives and customers.

Our tips

  • Always have a spokesperson that has been media trained on the stand (if you have a journalist booked for a particular time, its absolutely essential your spokesperson is there at the right time too. Journalists are in massive demand; you won't get a second chance)
  • Survey people that visit your stand on topical issues at the show – you can PR and share the results on social media
  • Have a video team spend a couple of hours at the show and conduct some interviews with executives, customers and attendees on elements of the show – it’s more PR benefit from the show
  • Use social media to draw people in, but try to avoid the boring "meet us on stand 57 at Super Expo" type tweets. Give a reason for them to come along

You must always remember to think back to your business objectives in your planning. Any PR around the show must contribute to your business goals otherwise you risk a wasted opportunity to make vital sales, vital connections or secure top tier, attention grabbing coverage.

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