Are you planning to attend an industry event, a trade fair, or a business conference in the next 12 months? If yes, then do you know why?
Forgive us here at ec-pr if that seems like an impertinent question. It’s simply that many, many people will attend Trade Events this year and beyond without having clearly defined objectives of what they want out of it.
We know from experience that planning event publicity, setting up meetings in advance, and having defined goals will pay back the cost of attending or exhibiting.
In the posts below we take you through event preparation, PR activity during the show, and following up your leads afterwards. Then, 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.
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
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:
Plan your meetings hall by hall to avoid feeling frustrated and exhausted.
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.
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.
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.
Our guide, Event Publicity: The Gold Standard will help you skyrocket your event publicity. Don’t miss an opportunity the next time your company participates in an industry event, complete the form below and we will email your definitive guide.
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@example.com
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.