| |

7 Ways to Put Relationships Back in Media Relations at Your Next Tradeshow

Vegas, Atlanta, Orlando, again!?

That must be the reaction of many reporters as they are dispatched by their editors to yet another stop on a full calendar of tech tradeshows. Despite the usual fun parties, happy hours, and occasional opportunity to drop out and enjoy the local scene, journalists often approach conferences with a sense of dread about how aggressively their time will be pursued.

Reporters, drastically outnumbered by vendors at tradeshows, are commonly overwhelmed by invitations for briefings. Most are at a show to cover major company news or to speak with the next upcoming sensation. Securing a media briefing will be challenging if you don’t fit into either of those two categories.

Frankly, it won’t be much easier even if you are breaking major company news. Unless you’re the host, tradeshows are terrible places for announcements. With so many press releases from so many vendors, it is nearly impossible to give each one its due. At best, you might be included in a roundup. But if you insist on a media presence at an event, consider these options to make covering your news easier and strengthen your relationships with reporters at the same time.

1. Know if the Juice is Worth the Squeeze

It’s not a great idea to plan an announcement at a tradeshow merely for the sake of coverage. Be honest with yourself and the media about the true newsworthiness of your announcement. Remember the basic principles of what makes a story compelling: change, conflict, or controversy. If your announcement doesn’t fall into any of these categories, save yourself and the media some time.

2. Don’t Pitch, Socialize

If you don’t have real news to announce, find other ways to engage with reporters. Some of the best long-term relationships are forged over casual conversations at happy hours and receptions. Use this time to get to know reporters and discover common interests or acquaintances. Getting to know someone now will make it much easier to ask for a briefing later. Above all, don’t use this time to pitch a story unless asked to.

3. Do Your Homework

Even if you’re not hosting briefings, review the media list before the show and familiarize yourself with who’s attending. Look at their LinkedIn pages for mutual connections and read their recent coverage—even if it’s not about you.

4. Meet the Media Where They Are

Tradeshow floors are a massive maze. Don’t make the media find your booth. There’s a good chance their previous or next meeting is on the other side of the building at an even more elusive booth. Instead, offer to meet them somewhere near their recent meeting or somewhere easy to find, like the registration desk. Unless you need to demonstrate your product or weed through a torturous number of slides, chill out and find a comfortable spot to talk.

5. Share the News Early

If you’re announcing something at a tradeshow, don’t make the reporter wait until the briefing for details. Granted, some news will be material or highly sensitive and must wait, but if you can, share the press release early under embargo and leave the briefing to address questions and provide commentary. Reporters will be busy enough working on other stories at the show. There’s no need to add more to their plate that week.

6. Offer Resources

The old days of vendor-sponsored press rooms may be rare, but you can still share your meeting space as a place to work or escape. Offer a spot away from others where reporters can recap their notes, check email, or relax with snacks and refreshments. Make this a pitch-free environment where they can feel comfortable.

7. Follow Up After the Show

When you’re back home, take some time to follow up with reporters you met at the show. Connect over LinkedIn. Read the stories they posted, and like or share them online—even if they’re not about you. This extra step will help drive traffic to their stories, which they and their editors will appreciate.

If you did announce something at the show and received coverage, take a moment to drop an email thanking them for the time and effort that went into writing their story.

All of this goes back to the intent of tradeshow organizers—providing an opportunity to meet face-to-face, make positive impressions, and form relationships. Of course, it’s still about leads, but the shows also offer a chance to put relationships back into media relations.

My colleagues at Channel Mastered have shared additional thoughts about working with the media and avoiding tradeshow gaffes. Needless to say, we’d be happy to dive deeper into any of these topics with you any time.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *