By Katie Blair
That’s a wrap on CES 2016 and now the post show coverage is rolling in, but unfortunately it’s for your competitor and not you. What could you have done differently? There are lessons you can learn from your counterpart to move the spotlight to your company next year.
Schedule meetings in advance: If it seems like your competitor was constantly talking with a reporter, most likely the meeting was scheduled in advance. Every CES exhibitor has access to the show’s press list through the online portal. This year’s list had over 4,000 press attendees listed! The online list can be narrowed by date added or even an editor’s focus area. While you might not have the free time or resources of a dedicated team, it could definitely be worth your time to identify and reach out to the top ten outlets your customers read.
Put your best pitch forward: Unfortunately, the CES press list isn’t much of a secret in itself. Editors are bombarded with email pitches. This means that yours has to stand out. Be straightforward, highlight what is new and unique this year and always be aware of what you put into writing. It’s safe to assume that in today’s world, anything you put in an email to an editor can be broadcasted across the web.
Also remember, editors aren’t afraid to put your pitch on Twitter and tear it apart, particularly around CES when their inboxes are full and emotions run high. Before you hit send or pick up the phone, make sure your pitch is relevant. Is it something they cover? Is it a relevant topic? What is the news element of the pitch?
Be prepared to adjust: If you’ve dealt with the media in the past, you know that you have to be flexible. Even if you have scheduled some press meetings in advance, with a show as large as CES, schedules are going to change the moment the show starts. Shuttles will run behind and meetings will run long, it’s a common thread each year, and this year was no different. Don’t take it personally, instead be prepared next time with cell phone numbers to follow-up with editors so that you can schedule a different time or perhaps schedule a video or phone meeting post show.
Tailor your company’s and product’s message: When you see your competitor in multiple publications aimed at different audiences, take note of their messaging. Even if you’ve talked with an editor, it doesn’t automatically mean coverage is coming. As a company, you should have different messaging for your different target markets. Apply the same logic to your meetings. The message for a potential partner is going to be different from the messaging for an editor and knowing the difference is key. An important take-away for next year is to know the needs of the various audiences and ensure that the messaging you provide is in line with the company’s goals and objectives for the event. Perhaps, even enroll in media training to ensure your preparedness.
Keep it short and keep it concise: Each year it seems like the media has less and less time to spend with you. Most of the editors that stop by your booth only have a few moments to spare as they have a schedule jammed packed with meetings. For the media to get enough information to include in an article, they are going to want the important facts and enough time to ask questions and get the answers they need. Longwinded speeches don’t make for good soundbites and might not leave editors with enough time to ask the questions they want.
Also, make sure to have a virtual press kit available with photos and additional information. You can send it right from your phone after the meeting. It’ll be in the editor’s inbox that night when he goes to his hotel room to write up some end-of-the-day recaps.
Monitor the social chatter: Not every editor pitched or individual reached out to will want to set up a meeting at CES, but they might stop by your booth. If they thought your tech was cool enough, they might have even taken a selfie at your booth and posted it to social channels. Be ready to post dynamic content from the booth to social forums and engage with press in real-time from the show floor. Capitalize on trending topics from the event and insert commentary. Exposure from CES is no longer just in the form of articles – it’s also tweets, videos and photos that can elevate a brand.
Passion, energy and personality: With so many companies, vying for attention, it’s important that you stand out from the crowd. Yes, your booth needs to razzle and dazzle visitors but so does your personality. Show energy around the company and product. Be engaging! Visitors will pick up on the excitement level that you are putting out, so if it’s clear that you are in desperate need of a caffeine fix, editors and potential partners are going to move on to the next company quickly.
Katie Blair is the vice president at PAN Communications.