In media relations, the best way to make an impact on the press is face-to-face interactions and events are a great way to do that. Whether it’s media events, trade shows or consumer shows, press and influencers will be in attendance and be looking to cover what is going on. Here are some quick tips on driving coverage before, during and after the event.
The Position: Understanding where the event sits in the media landscape
Every event holds a unique place in the media cycle for the specific industry but also in the general media landscape. San Diego Comic Con, CES, E3 hold a very different place than smaller media events such as the TTPM Showcases or The Toy Insider’s Sweet Suite. The larger events are highly competitive with major players in the respective fields making their largest announcements of the year, where the smaller media events tend to be more about building relationships leading into a key buying period. Understanding what type of announcements and coverage will come out of an event will help you decide on what your goals should be and the tactics you should be using.
The Draw: Have a reason for them to come to see you
Once you understand what the media landscape is for the event, you need to decide on how you want to draw press in. This can range from large activations to announcing or showcasing new products for the first time. No matter which way that you want to get them into your booth, you need to remember what your goals are and ensure that your draw works as a way to push that. As an example, the below image is a giant arcade that Arcade1Up built to announce their Marvel Super Heroes cabinet – this served as a natural draw for media due to its towering size, interactivity and as it was also based on a new product announcement, it allowed us to launch into our talking points. A draw like this will also drive social content as it was Instragrammable.
The Invite: Pre-pitching
Now that you have a firm idea of what you’re doing at the event, you want to invite the media to come by your booth. With some shows, you will need to book appointments and with others, the media will want to cruise the floor and discover new things, either way, you want the press to be aware you are there and what you’re showing. In the case that you are making an announcement and you are locked into specific timing, don’t be afraid to use an embargo and target the media you want.
The Media: Be prepared and know what they’re interested in
Two of the biggest mistakes PR practitioners can make at events are being underprepared (ie. not having a pitch ready to go) and not tailoring their pitch to the media member they are speaking with. Most PR reps have an understanding of the products that they are presenting but it takes them a couple of goes before they start to nail the talking points. This stems from not practicing before the event. Take some time before any event and stand in front of a mirror or grab a friend and just run through what you want to say a couple of times. Nothing would be worse than your first appointment coming with a camera and you not being ready to go.
The second mistake is not tailoring your pitch – There is no point in showing a “blasters influencer” a girl’s collectible. The longer you work in PR, the better you will get at knowing what media is looking for but you should never be afraid to ask if they’re interested in seeing something specific or are looking to explore a specific angle. Once you know what they are looking for, take them to what they want to see and tweak what you are saying to work for them. Once you’ve gone through what’s important to them, give a high-level overview of what else you have and ask if they would like to see anything else specific.
The Follow up: The most important part
The most important part of any interaction with media at an event is getting their contact info/business card – this may not lead to coverage of the event but it means that you can share any new announcements going forward. They’ve taken the time to come by your booth which means they are interested in what you are doing and will likely want to hear more. Once the event is over, send them a quick note, thanking them for stopping by and share any new information you may have. This is the first step in creating a long-standing relationship with the journalist.
This is a simple roadmap to having a successful event in general but it’s important to remember, every event is different and should be handled as such. The easiest way to ensure you are making an impact when starting out is to bring in a partner who understands your brand, knows the media and event cycles and can advise you on where you need to be and how to make an impact.