The conference environment has change along with everything else in this technology centered marketing world. A decade ago, the conventions I ran for the American Payroll Association were recognized by Tradeshow Week as among the country’s fastest growing shows in the category “over 1000 attendees.”
That was then, this is now—most of those shows are gone. Most of those associations are in trouble. And successful companies at convention marketing are playing by new rules.
Public relations tracks tight at the trade show
This season, the Write2Market team has been on the road with a number of Write2Market clients, going from IRCE in San Diego to Shop.org in Boston for retail technology public relations clients, and going to energy industry conferences like Offshore Technology in Houston, and Utilimetrics just this last week in Washington, DC for energy public relations outreach.
Technology PR seen from the show floor
Here’s the hit list for what’s working now in technology public relations from a show floor perspective:
1) Relationships with the show management—from helping you get on program committees that plan the next educational sessions to reconfiguring a trade show hall to accommodate that cool putt-putt green your CEO can bring, the association staff are more critical than ever to an “over the top” experience. Make a point to network with them and their board.
2) A fast eye for a press badge. In the past, press registered months in advance and planned editorial calendars around the experts they would meet at conferences. Now, press—much of it self appointed from the blogosphere—come the day of, or even the next day. Believe me, Fortune knows if a contributing writer makes an appearance, they’ll get in. So that leaves press lists in poor shape, and press conferences often more useful as “ask the executive team” opportunities—impromptu sessions—than traditional formal press conferences. How do you spot the press? Keep your eyes peeled for those press ribbons, and keep yourself glued to Twitter feeds where journalists like to editorialize on fun session out-takes.
3) Research. When you’re meeting your target market face to face, you have an unbelievable opportunity to conduct actual research. Write2Market’s PR technology team uses online survey tools and our cellular-network-capable iPads to get real attendee reactions. The resulting research polls provide snapshots of the attendees’ perspective AND press-worthy stories from the show. You should see people’s faces too—companies like our clients that commit to research get a lot of respect. (No, we don’t give stuff away for taking the survey—we show them the results in real time and that sparks even cooler conversations.)