Trade Shows Bring Out the Hunters

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Shows Bring Media’s Friends Out of the Woodwork

Source - “Lethal Weapon,” Warner Bros.
Source – “Lethal Weapon,” Warner Bros.

Even before the Thanksgiving turkey fog lifted an editorial friend had posted he was going to have “No, I’m Not Going to CES” tattooed on his forehead.

Silly boy … the emails will just keep coming; and so will the phone calls.

Thanksgiving doesn’t mark Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or even the preparation for Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, you name it.

It’s all about publicists making their mark.

Trade shows (especially CES – Consumer Electronics Show) have three main ingredients – a lot of companies, a lot more publicists, a finite number of media men/women.

Source – jaymepretzloff
Source – jaymepretzloff


More than 4,000 companies from around the globe got pumped up to descend on Vegas and make their mark in the industry.

For some, it will be big/garish.

For some, it will be business as usual.

For some, it will be maxed out credit cards to cover the costs.

The corporate goals are all the same:

  • show new products that will take them to the next level
  • develop buzz for the company/products
  • and for a few, it will be to make it through 2016 or be bought

They work right up to when the show opens to finalize product ideas, polish prototypes, and get the first units out of production.

They command publicity folks to ensure that they get to meet with/be interviewed by all of the “big” media folks. (Yes, Virginia despite all of the social media noise, press people really matter)

They throw last-minute product info to the publicists; and as they leave for the holidays, tell them to craft elegant releases.

They demand to know which media folks you lined up for them. They question your professionalism and relationships, asking why Bill, Joan, Jane, Walt, David, Deborah aren’t scheduled.

The Media

Close to 5,000 members of the media – print, web, radio, TV – signed up to hit Las Vegas and get a first-hand view of what/who is hot, what/who is not.

It’s hard to believe but they plan to focus on companies in their interest/coverage areas–not every booth.

Most will hit press day activities, key press events, targeted booths, a few parties and hope their feet/mind survive the week.

Some like to schedule key booth visits/company meetings to ensure the right person is there to give them the right information.

Some schedule meetings with folks they work with year-round to renew face-to-face contacts, strengthen the human bond.

Some just do a few key meetings and then hunt the convention center’s back alleys for anything that is OMG innovative!

Most hope they can make it from one meeting to another on time like Santa and his appointed rounds.

The PR Person/Publicist

Some were just hired for the show to get the company … coverage!

Some spent the year with their Facebook, Twitter followers.

Some kept in contact with editors, writers, reviewers, bloggers and others on a regular basis. You know, providing information, getting them product/information, assisting them.

But with the holidays, all bets are off … no one wants to disappoint The Boss!

The Electronic Contact

The work to score the meetings and fill the calendar begins … sorta’ like carpet bombing.

Source – jaymepretzloff
Source – jaymepretzloff

We wouldn’t want to call it real 1:1 hustling because the subject of the email won’t get you excited (names deleted):

  • re: please visit us booth (number)
  • We’re giving you this information under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement)
  • You probably missed this earlier note
  • Come see the next wave of (wearables, phones, games, drones, talking toys…)
  • Fill in the day, time you want to meet with us below
  • We’re going to disrupt your thinking about dynamic innovation this year at CES
  • We’re excited XYZ just said we’re going to represent them at CES
  • Leaf through the following pages, tell us who you want to meet with
  • We’re going to change the way you live at booth #____
  • Company Available for Interview at CES

Warm, personalized messages or notes that show they’re thinking about you:

  • I hope you’re having a great day
  • I’m sure you’re getting a lot of calls for CES meetings
  • I have something really exciting you’ll want to see at CES
  • I see you’re registered for CES in January and I wanted to reach out to you
  • ‘m sure you’ve received countless emails asking for appointments, but I was hoping you might be interested in
  • Hope you are well. I was wondering whether you might be interested in
  • Hello! You’re probably buried in CES-related messages but

Except for the fact that our list of contacts was actually only a small subset of the registered media list (people we know and wanted to meet on specific products/subjects) we worked hard to set meetings that would be meaningful for both parties.

Still, the email contact is efficient for both parties because the recipient can respond yes/no and suggest times that are convenient for him/her. Or not!

Smile/Dial Still Lives

Folks will tell you we live in a totally electronic age, but there’s nothing that beats the POT (plain old telephone) for giving that personal please touch.

Source - George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions
Source – George Schlatter-Ed Friendly Productions

One crotchety analyst friend asked rhetorically if one of the key requirements for a female to be in PR is that she be christened Tiffany.

The other is that they have a script and throat lozenges so they can dial for their new exciting client and schedule your appointment.

Almost as helpful as the Windows tech support person who wants to help you get rid of malware, they have discovered on your system — all they need is your password and a few other items to take care of it.

Bottom Line

Not every media person is interested in every company at the show (any show).

This is especially true of CES which knows no bounds…cars, robots, smart homes, IoT, IoE, phones, drones, apps, talking toys, entertainment things, clouds, AR/VR/AI or stuff.

As the technologies become broader, more sophisticated and more all-encompassing; media people will still keep coming to the event but they’re going to have to focus on specific interest areas just to get the news for their audience from the event.

Source – Walt Disney Co
Source – Walt Disney Co

Maybe PR people should as well.

There’s no scout badge for quantity over quality.

Numbers aren’t so important if:

The media person doesn’t get the information, assistance they need after the show

Folks don’t stay in touch with them throughout the year to support them the other 11 months, three weeks of the year…not just at show time.

Analysts and media people work around the calendar. PR/publicity folks should too.

That’s a little difficult when folks are focusing on getting as many folks as possible into their pool.

Source - “Lethal Weapon,” Warner Bros.
Source – “Lethal Weapon,” Warner Bros.

Trade shows, events are important for companies, management, attendees and yes the media; but with the flurry of contact leading to the event, it’s no wonder when you tell the analyst/ reporter that their meeting with you is really important they agree with Mr. Joshua, “No, no! I wish I could believe you. But unfortunately, I don’t.”

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