You need to start at least 3 – 4 weeks before a show to start the process of reaching out to schedule appointments. And you have to have something to talk about- preferably what will be breaking news at a show. Aside from your own comany’s news, you have to look at what you are announcing in the broader context of the show itself. You need to address how what you are doing is setting (or leading) a trend; how you are forging new partnerships that will expand distribution; and of course major customer wins that validate the need for your technology.
Many journalists and analysts will not make appointments, but will agree to stop by if you get on their radar early on in the planning process. This is something we are seeing more and more of. And it is really pretty reasonable on their part. Simply put: there is so much noise, so much clutter, and so many voice and emails going to request meetings, that they cannot handle the volume of requests to set firm meetings.
My suggestion is to be persistent, but polite. If you don’t get a firm appointment, just ask them to stop by your booth. Remember, you are there to build a relationship and not to just meet with them one time.