What’s the best way to connect with media at trade shows?

November 7, 2019 | Alissa Kiktavy


For many of us – and our clients – trade show season is ramping up. Get your comfy shoes, name badge and breath mints ready!


Each show brings a lengthy checklist and high expectations from the client. From generating booth traffic, increasing brand awareness and securing quality leads to generating new product buzz and enhancing social engagement, the list of asks (and stress level) can seem unnerving. But don’t forget about obtaining media coverage. Trade shows present a great opportunity to create relationships and capture media attention.

How can you stand out from your competition and successfully fill up your client’s trade show schedule with quality media meetings?

First, set expectations. The competition is fierce on the trade show floor. From improved, larger booths to the A-list celebrity draw, simply navigating the crowded floor isn’t your only concern. Work with your client to come up with a list of target media outlets that are must-have’s and nice-to-have’s. Be sure to set goals that are achievable and define KPI’s that evaluate (and ensure) success.


Meet the team. Get to know the other client team members who are attending the show so you get a feel of their personalities and interests, and who would be best to interact with the media or share insight to consumer questions. From there, divide roles and responsibilities. Provide the team members with the press materials well in advance so messaging stays on point.


Make it personal. Editors receive hundreds of emails per day. Before reaching out to invite that top-tier media contact to the booth, do your homework. Research his or her latest articles, blogs and social posts. Try to find a personal connection to break the ice (if you don’t already have an established relationship). Luckily, we live in the fabulous age of technology – to help in setting reminders for birthdays, work anniversaries, etc. – use it to your advantage.


Once you have that initial conversation, fostering the relationship and making a personal connection is essential. Emotional connections matter more than the products (shhh, don’t tell your client) debuting in the trade show booth. Be sure to ask: How can I help you? What do you think?


And, don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face meetings. Media value experiences and connections. Utilize your meeting time to make it both impactful and memorable.

Make it easy. Know how your media contact prefers to receive their news and tailor your approach accordingly. Make sure your pitch is relevant before sending that email. Understand that what is newsworthy to media is often very different from what your client views as newsworthy.


What else can you do to make the media’s lives easier? Schedules usually are jam-packed at trade shows with editors often running behind schedule. Be one step ahead – offer to walk across the exhibit hall and meet for coffee closest to their next appointment. Or, set a reservation for dinner or drinks after the show one day. You might get more accomplished outside of the trade show setting.


Finally, follow up. Don’t let your relationship fall by the wayside until the same trade show next year. Be a good communicator and continue to keep in touch (I know, sounds cliché) with media contacts. The extra thought and effort goes a long way as personal touches are often lost in today’s digital age.


And, it’s never too early to start planning for the next trade show. Schedule a team debrief to critically evaluate your team’s performance and take note of suggestions. The trade show is constantly evolving. Make sure your team does too, to make the experience a success not only for you, but also your clients.

Topics: Tradeshow Marketing marketing communications

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