It Pays to Have Good Media Relations

Graphic: © Digital Juice

Graphic: © Digital Juice

Do you have a media relations plan for your trade shows? Most exhibitors and even a lot of show organizers don’t … and that could be hurting your chances for getting media attention.

I don’t just mean how you treat the media who are walking the show floor (although we’ll get to that in a minute). Good media relations can apply at any time, and perhaps when you least expect.

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My first career was as a reporter for a major metro newspaper, and I still do freelance writing. Recently, I was working on a story and contacted an organization with questions, allowing several days for the source (what reporters call the person being interviewed) to research the answers. She was eager to assist with the article. But then on the morning of the pre-set deadline, I sent a quick e-mail reminder. That afternoon, she replied that things had just gotten way too busy and there was no way she could help me. I wonder if she had planned to notify me if I hadn’t contacted her first?

Anyway, this sent me scrambling to find another source so I could still meet my deadline with my editor. So do you think I’ll be reaching back out to that original source again any time soon? Not likely.

The person I contacted instead replied right away that she was out of the country, but would contact someone else back at her office to start working on the answers. They pulled everything together fast … and they got the coverage.

When a reporter contacts you, understand that they are on deadline and can’t wait for you to “find the time” to help them with a story. If you get an e-mail or voicemail from a reporter or editor, respond as quickly as you can with as much detail as you can. It often doesn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, and can make a big difference in your ability to get media attention, both now and in the future. Reporters quickly learn who makes the best sources, and return to them when a relevant subject pops up again.

Now as for media relations on the show floor … that’s a challenge for many exhibitors as well. Having worn a press badge at numerous shows, I know how reporters are often treated, and it isn’t pretty. The most common thing is to be completely ignored because we don’t have the “right” badge color. Those who we approach may often be abrupt because they want to move on to hotter prospects. But the truth is that a positive article (either online or off) in a media outlet that’s a favorite of your target audience can result in a lot more business.

When a reporter approaches your booth and asks to speak about your products, be welcoming and talk to them. Answer their questions, demo your product, and connect them to experts within your company who can give them even more information to assist with their article.

Just look at all the positive media attention that’s generated at high-profile shows like International CES or the Fancy Food Show. Small companies can rocket into the national – or even international – spotlight, just because they were featured for 30 seconds talking with a reporter on video, or mentioned in an article.

Remember: Good media relations pays!

Have you scored positive publicity due to good media relations? Please share your success in the comments below.

© 2016 Marlys K. Arnold  (from the April 2016 TradeShowTips Online. To receive tips like this in your inbox every month, please take a moment to fill out this request.)

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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