Trade Events

At ec-pr we are experts in helping businesses get the most out of Trade Fairs, Events and Conferences.

In the posts below we take you through event preparation, PR activity during the show, and following up your leads afterwards. Don’t make your trade events an expensive and fruitless showpiece. At ec-pr we know from experience that planning event publicity strategically will pay off.

Now, take some time to flesh out what you want to achieve and plan steps of how you’re going to do it. We have an invaluable guide to help you. Download our Event Publicity Gold Standard Guide here free.

DSEI: The ultimate event for defence networking success

DSEI: The ultimate event for defence networking success

DSEI: The ultimate event for defence networking success

Back out, doing what we do best

It feels like a long time since we’ve been able to join clients, colleagues, journalists and friends face-to-face at a trade show. As PR professionals, so much of our role revolves around our interactions with people, engaging with our networks and building and maintaining our relationships. And it’s no different for our clients. We’ve all adapted to a world of online meetings, video conferencing and virtual engagement, but now we’re beginning to emerge into our post-COVID reality and we’re finally able to engage in person after all this time.  It was certainly a pleasure to be wearing out the shoe leather once again at this year’s Defence and Security Exhibition International (DSEI) in London.

Trade show crowds

DSEI 2021

As one of the most highly regarded and well attended defence and security exhibitions on the global calendar, DSEI connects governments, national armed forces, industry thought leaders, the defence and security supply chain and the worldwide defence media over four days, every other year. For many of our clients operating in the defence sector, it is arguably one of the most important events for driving that face-to-face engagement, and for creating and nurturing those brand building and commercial opportunities that will help deliver tangible growth within the defence and security markets.

This year however, we were all curious to see the impact the pandemic would have on what was one of the first global trade shows to come back as a major face-to-face event within the defence sector. Pre-pandemic in 2019, DSEI celebrated its 20th anniversary in style with a landmark event where over 1,700 exhibitors plied their trade, and more than 36,000 visitors were in attendance from around the world. It was and always has been ‘the event you can’t not be at’, but what about now?

Clearly, DSEI 2021 was not going to deliver to the levels it has done in previous years in terms of exhibitor presence and delegation engagement or on visitor footfall so, it became even more crucial that businesses made the most of their Marketing investment.  The question is: is it still worth it?

Exhibiting in a post-Covid world – value and output

Having walked the floor at DSEI 2021, the answer is the same as it has always been – an undeniable yes. Aside from the fact the power of face-to-face engagement cannot be overestimated, even with a reduced audience and footfall, the opportunities to engage were as present as they had ever been, if not enhanced by our newly awakened focus on the importance of engagement and communications in the lead up to the event.

The key was to invest time and energy in your wider brand building and outreach and to focus on your overall communications approach so that by the time you’re at the show, you’ve already laid the groundwork for the opportunities you want to develop and nurture at the event.

Cutting through the noise

One of the best ways to find your voice in this crowded space and enhance stand presence is through targeted media relations. We recently wrote about something similar in our blog on what defence journalists expect from credible industry commentators, and DSEI only reinforced what we already knew. You can have the most compelling story to tell but if you are unable to frame it in the right way, you’re going to struggle to strike a chord with one of your key target audiences – the media.

DSEI trade show air land sea defence security

DSEI 2021 – successful engagement

This year we were pleased to be supporting several clients with their media outreach and engagement in the lead up to DSEI including Blu Wireless, BMT and Sonardyne International.  Conversation topics ranged from launching brand new concepts and visions for future autonomous naval scenarios, to the next steps in technology for automated Mine Countermeasure operations (MCM), to what 5G will bring to military communications and how it can revolutionise C5ISR capabilities in the field. All cutting edge technologies and genuinely interesting stories, focused on the key differentiator.

We have always been privileged to work with some of the best journalists and experts in their field, all genuinely knowledgeable individuals and people who hold real insights into their areas of expertise. At an event like DSEI, journalists’ diaries are packed, and they are often running from stand to stand all week talking to leading industry experts about the latest trends, challenges, issues, and technologies impacting the global defence sector today across the air, land, sea, and space domains.

Interesting insights that create conversations

That’s a lot of noise and a lot of news when you consider the scale of the industry, and particularly in the context of the prime contractors and their strong hold on the share of voice in the media. So, what was important for us was to identify those genuinely interesting insights our clients could offer journalists that would start a conversation and get them wanting to know more. And we did.

It was a pleasure to work with the likes of Shephard Media, IHS Jane’s defence, Armada International, Military Technology and Global Defence Technology around DSEI and to create some thought-provoking interviews and articles around the great work our clients are doing in defence. We know from feedback that our clients really valued this engagement and that it helped to make the significant investment of their time and efforts around DSEI even more worthwhile.

We certainly look forward to being back out again in the exhibition circuit soon!

Trade shows – looking ahead

If you want to engage and exhibit at an upcoming trade show or find out more about how EC-PR can build an effective communications programme for your organisation, please get in touch.

For more ideas, read our featured Case Study about how EC-PR has helped Blu Wireless to increase brand awareness in the defence sector with striking results.

Or, if you’d just like to stay in touch – sign up to receive regular insights on how to make your PR work harder.

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SMM Fair 2018: What I learnt in 25,000 steps

SMM Fair 2018: What I learnt in 25,000 steps

Whilst preparing for SMM Fair 2018, I was fully aware that it was a big show; you only need to look through the exhibitor list to understand that. But it’s only once you’re there and in the thick of it that you truly appreciate the sheer magnitude of what is certainly the largest trade event I’ve ever been to.

Liz at SMM Fair 2018

Liz at SMM Fair 2018

25,000 steps over 1.5 days and there were still people I didn’t get a chance to catch up with, but it was a fantastic couple of days and a great opportunity to spend time with clients, journalists, as well as meet some new and interesting people who clearly have a passion for this industry.  The blisters were totally worth it!

What did I learn?

The IMO Ballast Water Convention and Global Sulphur Cap 2020 were still the main discussion topics, as was the ‘green drive’ and maritime security. Of course, none of these are quick wins and they will all have a major impact on how the industry operates in the future.  What’s clear is that there needs to be a much more agile and flexible approach to the formation and implementation of regulations if we stand any hope of keeping up, never mind getting ahead, in an ever-changing world.

Our preparation for Posidonia, earlier this year, was spot on so we didn’t change anything for this show. Despite only being able to commit to 1.5 days, with nifty preparation and planning, I had 18 meetings plus several drop-ins. No other show will give you such an opportunity to see all the major industry players in one place.  If I was to give advice to anyone attending this show for the first time, I would say:

  1. Plan your meetings hall by hall to avoid feeling frustrated and exhausted.
  2. Taxis are impossible to secure after 4pm – research public transport and the different ways to get around Hamburg. Nearly 2 hours waiting for a taxi is an experience I’m hoping never to repeat.  If it wasn’t for the kindness of two executives travelling in my direction, I may never have got to my hotel that night.
  3. Dedicate at least three full days to attend and work SMM, so that you can be more systematic in your approach, i.e. 1st day – A Halls, 2nd day – B Halls, 3rd day – any stands you’ve missed.
  4. Leave the heels at home – being an absolute lover of heels, I can’t quite believe I’m saying this but I’m also still trying to nurse my feet back to normal and haven’t been out of my trainers since I got back.  So, next time it’s flats all the way.

What will we do differently in 2020?

In all honesty, not a lot.  The timing of these events is critical.  Whilst Posidonia was fantastic from a BD perspective, we then quickly entered ‘silly season’ and so, we faced two or three months of following up and nurturing these relationships at a time when quite frankly, very few people are looking to seriously engage.  That said, we’re now seeing our hard work paying off and SMM last week has reinforced our passion and commitment to working in an industry that plays a crucial role in driving the global economy.  Roll on Norway for Nor-Shipping 2019.  It’ll be interesting to see how much the industry has moved on and what investments are made over the next year.  Given the conversations I’ve been privy to recently, we should be seeing a flurry of activity which can only be good news for the industry.

For advice on prepping for a Trade Show or Industry event read our Event Publicity Countdown or download our Free PR Guide.

For help with managing your PR at an upcoming event, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

Posidonia 2018: A three-day whirlwind

Posidonia 2018: A three-day whirlwind

When Lorraine and I first discussed going to Posidonia this year, we couldn’t quite believe that in the decade of working within the maritime sector, we were still ‘Posidonia virgins’.  At last, the stars aligned (or should I say diaries) and 2018 was going to be the year we experience this legendary event.

Speaking to our customers and maritime journalists, we had heard a lot about this event. We were fired up, excited, but also somewhat apprehensive.  The words ‘stamina’ and ‘party’ were mentioned a lot and true to form, the three days we were there did not disappoint.

What did we learn at Posidonia?

Preparation is king – our clients hear this a lot from us but it really does pay off.  Not only for the clients that we support with media engagement, but also for EC-PR in helping to further raise the profile of our brand.  After deciding to invest, we were determined to work this show hard – and that we did.

With 31 stand meetings over three days, it really was non-stop.  Couple this with the British Embassy reception and copious other networking drinks/dinners, we were officially ‘pooped’ and ready to leave by the end of day three.  And yet sad that, for us, the experience was all over!

Despite the extensive commercial, operational and regulatory challenges this industry continues to face, this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.  With smiles on their faces despite the sweaty brow and sore feet, people were engaging, inspiring and the perfect hosts.

What will we do differently in 2020?

Our preparation was spot on.  We had a focussed few days so, while initially we thought we would stay longer in 2020, I’m not sure this would be any more effective. We are great believers in process and trust our BD approach.  Doing the leg work before the event meant we had a very productive few days and our follow up is methodical and imaginative.  There have been a few bits of collateral which we would craft differently and follow-up information which has taken longer to develop than we expected.  We will start the process on these materials earlier and the messaging within them will be more incisive.

Roll on 2020!

If you’d like to learn more about preparing publicity for a big event please read our Event Publicity blog series or request a copy of our Gold Standard guide [email protected]

Event Publicity: The Follow Up

Event Publicity: The Follow Up

The show is over folks… the attendees have left and the doors on your event are firmly closed. Now, it’s time to relax with a well-earned cuppa and some tasty biscuits.

Don’t get too comfortable though.  Just because your event is over doesn’t mean you can simply walk away! There are still some key post-event activities you can be doing to keep the momentum going and continue to maximise your investment.

Make sure you….

  • Follow up with the journalists you and the team met and simply thank them for taking the time to meet with you and the team. If you promised them additional material, then make sure you send it through a few days after the show with suitable high res photography.  Read our blog on how to write an impactful press release.
  • You should have a clear idea as to what your wish list publications are covering in the next three months. Determine what contribution your company can provide and contact the Editor to discuss further.  Offer written contribution or an interview with the subject matter expert. Read our Thought Leadership series on how to become an industry influencer.
  • Think about providing your own brief account of the event – what surprised you, what was good, bad or indifferent. Send this to your key media contacts as they are likely to be putting together their own review of the show.
  • Ask your subject matter experts to write a short blog about their experiences of the event. Not only will this generate additional content that could attract visitors to the next event you attend, it will also be beneficial for your SEO and social media strategy. Read our blog on our time at Posidonia 2018 coming soon.
  • Most importantly, celebrate! Delivering an effective event publicity strategy can be a long and arduous journey so make sure you bring together the whole team to celebrate and appreciate all of the hard work that’s gone into it.

This blog is part of our series Event Publicity: The Gold Standard.
For a FREE COPY OF OUR EVENTS GUIDE: THE GOLD STANDARD, please email [email protected]

Event Publicity: Handling the unexpected

Event Publicity: Handling the unexpected

You’ve prepped your ice-breakers, the Press Releases are printed out and you’ve got your contacts details all programmed in your phone.  Now to prepare for the unexpected.

If a journalist happens to come by the stand unexpectedly or asks a question that is sensitive or ‘off message’, there’s no need to panic. Four key things to remember when handling the unexpected are:

Give yourself time to prepare

It’s ok to say to the journalist “now is not a good time and could you come back in 5/10 minutes or later in the day”. Ask the journalist what he/she is looking to discuss – that way you will have some time to think through what you or the subject matter expert need to say.

Have something worthwhile to say

If there are controversial or sensitive issues in your area of expertise, work out where you stand and don’t be afraid to air those views – but make sure you can back them up. Journalists are looking for experts who are prepared to give a strong opinion. If your company prefers not to comment on such issues that’s fine, but don’t be surprised if the reporters don’t bother to call you again.

Make it interesting and relevant

Avoid talking theoretically – use tangible examples to bring your points to reality. You will come across much more authoritative. And, don’t get obsessed with your own internal messages – by all means weave them in to the conversation, but be selective and thoughtful to keep them

Be Effective & Follow up

Follow up with the journalists you met and determine if they need anything further – if you promised to send them material, then do so. Don’t forget those images. If you have any new story ideas or feature abstracts, now is the time to send them to the Editors.

If you missed our previous blog, you may find the following useful How to write an impactful Press Release and Networking with the Media like a Pro

For a FREE COPY OF OUR EVENTS GUIDE: THE GOLD STANDARD, please email [email protected]

Event Publicity: Networking with the media like a pro

Event Publicity: Networking with the media like a pro

Trade shows and exhibitions are all about making connections – networking.   Whether that is meeting new people or strengthening existing relationships, your role is to engage with your industry’s media and deliver a story.  Be confident with your messaging and prepared to tackle those off the cuff or sensitive questions. This takes practice and experience, but go prepped and you can make the right impression to get your business noticed by the media organisations who matter.

Here are our tips to help you optimise your media networking at that all-important event:

1. Spend time thinking about your introduction/icebreaker

This can be as simple as your name and what you do followed up by simple open questions – don’t forget to smile!

2. Make your time memorable

Consider describing what you do in a more interesting or memorable way, for example, if you specialise in marine environmental protection, you could say that you are “the guardians of the deep”.

3. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them

Think about how you can put them at ease (quickly find a common ground, i.e, Is this your first time at this event? Who in the industry do you both know?) and make them feel more comfortable about asking questions – this will help you to manage your nerves too.

4. Every connection is potentially valuable

Whether it’s school children you could inspire, a politician you could influence, or a journalist you could educate, every interaction should be treated as an opportunity to practice being interesting and engaging.

5. Prepare three open questions

Encourage engagement by preparing three open-ended questions which cover safe territory.

What happens when you get thrown a curve ball? Keep following for next blog on How to tackle those unwanted/unexpected questions.

Missed our blog on How to write an impactful Press Release – read it here.

This blog is part of our series Event Publicity: The Gold Standard.

For a FREE COPY OF OUR EVENTS GUIDE: THE GOLD STANDARD, please email [email protected]