Create the Exhibitor PR BUZZ

Leverage PR Tools Before, During and After Trade Shows

Most companies are clamoring for the publicity spotlight at
trade shows. However, a successful show is about much more than the impression
you make at the event itself. You need to leverage a variety of public
relations (PR) tools and activities before, during and after a trade show to
ensure maximum traffic for your booth and publicity for your company. Every
trade show is a unique opportunity to build relationships with prospects and
the media, and a chance to promote new offerings. In a nutshell, whether
you're selling home products or financial services, creating the right PR
buzz around a trade show can support a company's long-term sales and
marketing goals, yielding high returns.

Participating in trade shows is an excellent investment, and
you want to make each show count. Being physically present at a show
doesn't guarantee traffic or publicity. Pre-show PR is critical,
especially if you plan to showcase a new product or service at the event. You
should plan booth activities and support materials months in advance. Be sure
to provide professional-caliber press kits to journalists and editors to target
trade and business media, ideally, a few weeks before the show. This will
capture their attention more than a last-minute news release. A couple of weeks
before the show, editors should receive personal invitations by phone or e-mail
to meet with senior PR staff, product experts and company executives at the
event.

Garnering publicity for a new product or service before a
trade show is a strategic way to guarantee more booth traffic and attention on
the floor, which can mean more qualified sales leads and post-show PR. For
instance, if you place an article about your new product in a trade magazine to
run a month before a show, your target audience is more likely to make a point
of visiting your booth. Media professionals who see a compelling news release
or article will have time to consider how they might cover your product
post-show, so you'll have more meaningful conversations at the event. Prospects
already will have considered how your product can help them, so you will be
closer to capturing qualified leads. While it is tempting to try to make a big
splash by announcing a new product at a show, it is better to create a good PR
buzz by seeking publicity beforehand.

Sustaining PR buzz at a trade show means making the right
impression. Be sure to bring plenty of press kits for editors and journalists,
and keep all scheduled appointments with members of the media. If possible,
make key company executives available to editors for questions. Also, keep a
detailed written log of the information and products discussed with each media
contact so you can make appropriate follow-up calls, respond to specific
requests and set up post-show meetings or conference calls. While big names
often steal the spotlight, if you have been thorough in your preshow PR
activities and are well-prepared for the event, your company will be noticed.

Dropping the ball after a trade show is a common mistake.
The show must go on and that means postshow PR, which is critical for growing
relationships with prospects and media and paving the way for future sales and
publicity. Follow-up is the bottom line. Send timely thank-you letters to each
member of the media who met with your company's representatives, briefly
recapping the meeting and any story ideas you discussed. Follow up quickly on
action items such as requests for information or interviews from editors or
journalists who came to your booth. Doing so fosters a productive, ongoing
dialog, which can keep your company top-of-mind and the door open for more
publicity.

Trade show PR requires time, resources and the ability to
adhere to a well-thought-out plan. Many companies outsource to PR agencies with
proven expertise in trade show PR to ensure that their customers, prospects and
the media receive the attention they deserve. Most PR agencies have
relationships with journalists and editors at business and trade publications,
and can open dialogs with editors who may want to publish stories on specific
topics such as home products or financial services. Agencies can handle
everything from PR plans and news releases to pitching stories to media before,
during and after a show.

As a result of your efforts, your company will create the
right PR buzz at the right time.           

Walt Denny is the president of Walt Denny, Inc. Walt Denny, Inc. is an advertising/public relations agency that focuses primarily on home products clients such as KitchenAid brand, L.E. Johnson Products and Whirlpool Corp. "The Home Products Agency" was established in 1989. For more information, please log onto www.waltdenny.com.

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