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Trade Shows & Industry Conferences
Four steps to getting media coverage of yours.
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by Ian Smith, APR
Southeast Building Conference

Ian SmithServing as public relations director for a large trade show or business industry conference can be overwhelming.  It's no easy feat culling down a three- or four-day conference with hundreds of exhibitors, tens of thousands of attendees and a plethora of activities and events into bite-size pieces of newsworthy information.

But I believe if you follow these four easy steps, you're guaranteed good media attendance and coverage.  First, develop a targeted media strategy months in advance; second, identify three mainstream news angles; third, host a well organized press room onsite; and fourth,  prepare post-show press packets for media who can't attend.

The first thing you need to do is develop a targeted trade and mainstream media list.  You can purchase specialized media lists and directories from a number of reputable sources, but if you're short on cash, try the Internet or the newspaper and magazine rack at a local bookstore.  Also get a detailed list of the mainstream media in the city and state where the show is being held, and don't forget to look up freelance writers or national organizations that represent trade media in your industry.

Organize your list into sections such as national, regional, state or local coverage; business, technology, or mainstream coverage; freelance, etc.  These groupings will make targeting simpler later on.

The second step is to identify three mainstream news angles from the conference. Trade media typically have story ideas in mind, or are looking for a particular angle such as technology, new products or business.  But there often is information that could be of interest to state and local mainstream media such as new technological advances that will change the way consumers interact with your industry. Media notification and pitching really should begin six months in advance with a "save-the-date" post card and then develop into information packaged more as news teasers than as news releases.

The third step is to manage a fully working press room onsite.  Make the media's job easy by organizing exhibitor press kits and a provide a master list of news events.  Offer Internet connections and phone lines, and keep  the room staffed to facilitate requests for interviews.  Always bring industry experts to the press room and use the room to host media events, product unveilings and other activities.

Finally, there will be media interested in your show who can't attend.  You should prepare a post-show press package that includes three major news stories from the show, a list of exhibitors and products and a list of industry issues and contacts.

These four easy steps really are the basics, but once you've been through two or three annual trade shows, you will develop the right media contacts and figure out a well-timed strategy. The key to success begins with targeting and notifying media early on, facilitating their needs onsite, and sending post-show information that can be used in the weeks and months following the show.

Ian Smith is the public relations director for the
Southeast Building Conference,
an annual home building industry trade show held
in Orlando, Florida that attracts
10,000 people from 12 southeastern states.
His email address is:

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