3 Steps for Planning Your Tradeshow Coverage This Fall

3 Steps for Tradeshow Coverage Prep

This year’s event landscape looks a lot different than it did in 2020, but there is an eerie familiarity about it. While the calendar is once again jam-packed with events, it doesn’t feel like 2019 either. 

The coming months are filled with the promise of in-person, virtual, and hybrid tradeshows – many of which had been postponed from 2020 or from the early winter, spring, and summer seasons this year. However, the delta variant and the evolving pandemic make it hard to commit to anything with certainty. 

What you can do is focus on things within your control (and avoid using a permanent marker in your planner!). Here are three surefire steps to mapping out your fall tradeshow coverage plan: 

Step 1: Be selective with which events you’ll cover. 

The most time-consuming part of preparing for the busy fall tradeshow season is deciding which events to write about.  

First, make a list of shows that you are interested in covering. Arrange them in a calendar or chronological order to find any overlap. For virtual events occurring simultaneously, you may technically be able to be in two places at once, but realistically won’t be able to fully engage with both and should therefore choose just one. Also, look for 2+ events in a similar industry that are suddenly much closer together than usual. Some participants might elect to attend one or the other, which may be a deciding factor for you. 

Take note of the event format: is it in-person, some sort of hybrid, or all virtual? If the event is primarily physical, is there a digital plan B? Weigh how significant the format is to your coverage plan. 

To help narrow down your list further, research the agenda and anticipated content. For example, will there be speakers or roundtable discussions? Will they be live or pre-recorded? If the show has exhibitors, what does the participant pool look like? 

Finally, consider which events are offering a dedicated media experience. Many tradeshows pride themselves on creating stellar exhibitor and general attendee resources. But they often leave much to be desired for the press. Is there a news center? What about a way to easily set up appointments or chat and ask questions? 

Prioritize the events that make you a priority and offer the most opportunities for stories. 

Step 2: Streamline your remote setup. 

Even if you’re back in the office and all the tradeshows you are planning to attend this fall are in-person, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re prepared to write remotely just in case those plans change. 

Covering an event from home does have its challenges: it’s more difficult to talk with panelists, produce original videos, and serendipitously find stories. But it’s not impossible. After all, many tradeshows had been streaming nearly 100% of their events pre-pandemic, and most of their press coverage came from offsite journalists. 

To up your remote coverage game, here are 10 Tips for Covering a Virtual Event

Step 3: Have a backup plan. 

Despite the best-laid plans, we know how quickly things can change. Be prepared to fill in content gaps if your editorial calendar is filled with tradeshow-based news and an event decides to cancel altogether or push to 2022. 

Making appointments with exhibitors ahead of time can help mitigate a story drought since many will still push forward with their news announcements in the wake of a last-minute event adjustment. (You should have a way to contact them outside of the event portal. Don’t be left scrambling if things go awry!) 

Depending on when the event organizers alter their plans, you may have time to look back at your original tradeshow list and see if there’s an opportunity to participate in a different show. 

If all else fails, lean on the evergreen content in your back pocket. You can also take advantage of the change in schedule to publish a piece that had been moved to the back burner. 

The silver lining in our post-pandemic world is that we are more prepared than ever for unexpected scenarios. No matter what the fall tradeshow season shapes up to be, taking these steps will ensure you’ll be ready to deliver valuable stories to your readers. 

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Erienne Muldoon is a senior customer content specialist for Virtual Press Office, PR Newswire’s trade show marketing solutions division. When she’s not advising clients on storytelling best practices, you can find her tweeting about Cleveland, PR, and video games @ECMuldoon.

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