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PR Peeps: Going to Trade Shows or Conferences? Here’s Some Helpful Tips

As a PR person, going to trade shows and industry conferences used to be a matter of getting coverage in advance of the show, scheduling one-one-meetings with journalists and analysts with your management, and connecting with new media contacts in the press room, your booth, and panel discussions.


Yup… I got to lots of trade shows and conferences.  Shot on location at IPTV World London (c) me.

Much of the role we play remains the same, but so much has changed and new opportunies have come about.  

Here’s some helpful tips….

1.  Don’t just reach out to the media, create your own media.

In addition to your doing the ground work in advance of, during and after the event, think of yourself as a journalist and do your own story telling in the context of what your company is doing at the show.  Develop this content for the benefit of your partners and your customers and post in real time if you can.  

Depending on the situation, I use a KodakZi8 and will edit in iMovie, or sometimes, I just use my iPhone and post in real time with no editing.

2.  Make sure you are using the right hashtags.

This is a pretty easy thing to do.   As a rule, the conference site will have some elements of social media embedded where you can see what hashtags are being used.

3.  Get your management social media smart.

This might be trickier, but here’s a challenge for you.  It’s one thing for the PR person (or the agency) to be active on social networks and it’s another to have the actual VP of Marketing or preferably the CTO to do this.  Depending on the culture and personality of who you have to work with, try to engage with them at least 60 days before an event like this and get them to get engaged.   (Your mileage will vary…. depending on who you are working with).

Also, see if the show has a social media guide like this one.  Tons of great content and insight on where the conversation are.

4.  Think about content for after the show.

You’ve spent all this time getting ready for the show.  Give your efforts more shelf life by providing commentary and insights after show.   What did you learn that will help your customers?  What trends did you see?  What plans of action is your company taking in order to continue in your thought leadership going forward?

5.  Follow the stream

Here is an example of VMWorld which is taking place today as I write this post.  


Who’s saying what?  Where do you fit?  Where do you lead?

6.  Ask your customers how you can help…

With travel budgets being reduced, not everyone on your customer’s teams may not be able to attend trade show or conference that matters.  

7.  Be Human.  Be Human.

See a funny booth give-away, having fun at a party, connecting with a friend from afar?  Share it on your person Facebook page.  Post photos, videos and fun commentary.   Yes, you’re there for business, but there’s nothing wrong with having a bit of fun and sharing in what you are doing.

8.  Track your competitor’s press kits and content strategy.

In the case of VMWorld, here’s a link to the press materials from the exhibitors.  Assign this to an intern and have these documents ready to review when you return.  What do they say?  What terms are they using?  What type of material do they provide to the media?  It’s a giant research project that’s your for the asking. 9.  Follow the bloggers…

9.  Follow the bloggers…

Here’s a trail to follow before, during and after the show.  

Listen.  Listen.  Listen.  

Then engage.

10.  Follow up.

Are you following the journalists, analysts and bloggers that you connected with?  Above and beyond shoving press releases down their throats, the point of this is not to sell, but engage.  

Be a source of news, insights and commentary after show. 

Have I left anything off?  Chime in with a comment or two.


1 Comment

  1. Hi Alan, very helpful post, interesting to have a perspective of tradeshows from the PR point of view, rather than exhibitors, attendees and organizers. I’m sure exhibitors without a specific PR person in their company find a good deal of this advice helpful too. I added your piece to my roundup of the best tradeshow pieces of the month here: Hope you like it!


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