Some Free Advice About Trade Show PR

With the telecommunications industry’s biggest trade show poised to start in a few days, it’s worth addressing briefly a few points about what to do, and not to do, when it comes to accommodating editors and analysts at a show.

Let’s start with the positives, what you should do. First, do have a place to sit. Especially in big, spread-out trade shows, the poor editor or industry analyst who shows up at your booth for an appointment will welcome a chance to sit down. These shows aren’t very feet-friendly, so it’s worth investing in a table and chairs in the booth.

Do offer a bottle of water or a cool, refreshing non-alcoholic beverage if at all possible. The busy schedules people maintain at these shows allow very little time for grabbing a drink.

Do respect their time. If you can time your presentation or discussion to about 25 minutes, including time for anticipated questions, that will be perfect. It gives the person time to move on to the next meeting without being late or feeling that they’re being rude because they need to tell you they have to go.

Do treat them like real people, not just vessels you pour your key messages into, without regard for their interests. If you don’t already know their likely focus, ask what they are most interested in, and then tailor your discussion to their needs. And then, for the next 25 minutes, focus on them, avoiding all the visual and auditory distractions that trade shows are known for.

Now let’s move on to what you should not do.

Don’t do anything that will embarrass your company, client, or yourself. These days, if a humiliating moment isn’t being recorded, it’s probably being tweeted about. You don’t want that.

Don’t lurk at the press room. If you’re walking by and you see a reporter you know, that’s fine. What isn’t fine is hanging out there for long periods, like a streetwalker looking for just the right customer.

And finally, don’t act desperate. At one trade show back in my editor days, some PR person I had never met actually saw my press badge, ran out of their booth, and grabbed my arm, trying to guide me to their booth so I could talk to them. Despite the fact that this met the legal definition of assault, I politely informed them I was on my way somewhere else and that I would try to come back and see them later. I didn’t come back, nor did I try, for obvious reasons.

These are just a few helpful tips, and we share these and many more with our clients.

Trade shows can be great opportunities for face-to-face contact and for building or enhancing relationships. They offer a chance to go beyond the usual transactional texting, emailing, and phone calling. Do it right, and you’ll make your time at a show pay off nicely.