Trade shows are a great source of news and topics for articles and blogs, but between big announcements, keynotes, product launches and the exhibition itself, how do you know where to start?
It’s for this reason I’ve often compared trade shows to pet stores. There is so much energy and there are so many things fighting for your attention, it can be very overwhelming.
The good news is most trade shows do what they can to make journalists’ and bloggers’ lives easier. After all, the more exposure the show gets, the better.
Here are some tips on what to do before, during and after a trade show:
1. Verify what kind of press office the show offers.
Trade shows vary in how they choose to display event or exhibitor news. Some shows are more traditional and only have paper press rooms at the show. Some shows offer an online-only press room. The majority, however, tend to do a mixture of both.
If the show has an online press room, start checking it about a month before the show. Some exhibitors like to get their news in early to try and drive traffic to their booth. It’s also useful for following new product launches, which is a great way to predict possible trends.
Also look for news from the show’s event organizer. They often have news about keynote speakers and award shows. Looking at awards and awards contenders is another way to try and predict trends.
2. Check for a pre-show press event.
Some shows have an event before the show specifically dedicated to the press. These pre-show press events are a goldmine for news as exhibitors are invited to come to the event and have product launches, demos and grant interviews.
With so much going on at the show, pre-show press events grant the press and bloggers the opportunity to get a sneak peak at everything before the show even starts.
Some shows do pre-show press events with outside organizations and some shows just hold press days. For example, the 2014 Los Angeles Auto show had a 3- day press and trade event before the show opened to the public.
3. Set up exhibitor interviews before the show.
If there isn’t a pre-show press event and there’s an exhibitor you want to interview, set up a meeting as early as possible.
Exhibitors tend to be busy on the show floor trying to reach potential clients, so setting up a meeting in advance is often the only way to ensure an interview. Some companies may even send their marketing or PR person to the show if there are interview requests.
4. Follow the trade show’s official hashtag on Twitter.
Once you know the show’s official hashtag, follow it on Twitter before, during, and after the event. Twitter is a great way to get a feel for what’s happening at the show with the event organizer and exhibitors.
Twitter also is a way to see other hashtags that are trending at an event. For example, Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) had an event at the end of November and one of the hashtags coming out of the show was #RSNAshoes. It’s not something you would expect, but if you’re, say, a fashion blogger, it could lead to a story about comfortable, fashionable shoes for trade shows.
5. Download the trade show app.
This is good advice no matter how you’re involved with a trade show. I’ve gone to two big trade shows in the past year and the apps were a lifesaver.
The app usually has an agenda with everything going on at the show and you can usually star the events you want to attend. Some apps even have a section for “your agenda” with all the sessions you starred.
If you’re new to a certain venue, most apps also have interactive maps of the convention center to help you get to where you need to go.
6. Look for a post-show trends press release.
Not all shows’ trends are apparent from the beginning of the show. Sometimes just looking at the show after it’s over offers a great way to explore and gain insight into industry trends.
A lot of show organizers put out releases afterwards that explore industry trends revealed at the show. Last year, the Toy Industry Association sent a top toy trends release with the top trends that came out of the American International Toy Fair. These releases are great for story ideas or newsjacking.
The beginning of the year always offers a rush of trade shows. Whether you’re going to one of the shows coming up in the next month such as DesignCon 2015, North American International Toy Fair 2015, WPPI 2015, or shows later in the year, these tips are sure to help you dig through the crowds and find a gem for your next story.
Looking for your next trade show-related story? Sign up for trade show RSS feeds or the Virtual Press Office news delivery service Release on Demand at virtualpressoffice.com. And if you’d like to learn more about PR Newswire for Journalists’ full suite of free media tools, drop us a line at http://prn.to/mediacontact.
Caterina Lui is a senior customer content specialist for the trade show division Virtual Press Office, a PR Newswire company.