Your booth is designed, sales collateral printed, and travel plans booked. Now all you have to do is dazzle the crowds and dominate the National Retail Federation Big Show (NRF 2016). Right?

Wrong.

This maelstrom of media, announcements, and business deals is no time to fly by the seat of your pants. If you don’t have a clearly defined strategy of what news to release, how and when to do it, and hours of preparation completed before the floor opens, you just brought a knife to a gunfight. And a small one, at that.

NRF 2016 will draw a huge collective of journalists and publish its own show daily to cover news released at the event itself — but every other company is also releasing news, so it’s easy to get overlooked. How do you make sure that your news is heard and covered?

    1. Strategize your message. If you have big news, like a new product launch, to announce at the show, that is ideal — but great research, sales numbers, client wins, or important partnerships can also generate coverage. Determining what news will be released at the show several weeks in advance is key because that provides ample time to craft the message and most importantly, create a compelling angle regarding why it matters and why every journalist covering the show needs to care.
    2. Plan the release. Any announcement must be accompanied by a press release. Give yourself plenty of time to write the release so you can iterate it and develop it to deliver maximum punch. If partners or clients are named, allow enough time to get all the necessary approvals. To make sure every news outlet — even ones not in attendance — see your news, distribute it on Businesswire. Every major newsroom subscribes to Businesswire, and journalists covering your beat will be on the lookout for releases originating from NRF. If you really want to make a splash, create a physical press kit containing press releases from the show and supplementary collateral. Many companies only issue digital releases, but more journalists than you think still collect paper press kits in the media room. It makes the information instantly accessible and helps you stand out.
    3. Brief journalists in advance. Try to imagine being inundated with news from all sides and trying to cover it all in a tiny window of time. That’s what journalists face, and nobody can do it all — that’s a major reason why so many stories just don’t get covered. Contact key journalists a couple of weeks before the show and alert them to your upcoming news, offering interviews and additional information. Any reputable journalist will honor your embargo, and they love preparing stories in advance. Book any on-site interviews several weeks in advance because journalists fill their schedules quickly, and promises to “drop by” your booth often go unfulfilled because there isn’t enough time. Anything you can do to help reporters beef up their coverage of the show without adding more to their busy plates after the show has started helps greatly.
    4. Own the Twitter news feed. Think that once your story is published, your job is done? Throw that thought out the window right now, because it’s really only just begun. You probably already know to tweet liberally during the show using the event hashtag, but also make sure to tweet your own news. Tweet links to every story that mentions you, tagging the writer and publication, and create mini-blogs on your web page that also link to the stories. Subsequent tweets should link to those mini-blogs, but continue using the event hashtag and tagging relevant stakeholders. Also engage with every tweet that mentions your company or news, favoriting and/or retweeting them.

A great showing at NRF yields results that are felt for months to come. The fun of the show is balanced by the work that always accompanies it, but if you don’t prepare adequately and are mired in putting out preventable fires, what should be a fun and productive time will turn into a pit of stress and excuses.

If you want to make sure that you totally dominate the headlines coming out of NRF, contact me today  

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