Think Ink: Five Ways to Score Press Coverage at a Trade Show
By Adrienne Appell, Senior Manager Public Relations, Toy Industry Association
The reasons companies exhibit at trade shows can be varied … key among these, of course, are introducing new products to retail buyers and networking with industry colleagues. But trade shows are also an excellent opportunity for exhibitors to attract press coverage for their organizations and products.
Held in New York City every February, the Toy Industry Association’s American International Toy Fair (Toy Fair) is the largest toy and youth product event in the Western Hemisphere. Toy Fair attracts hundreds of media – from bloggers, journalists and editors to photographers and camera crews – reporting on the newest products and hottest trends seen at the show. This results in thousands of articles and broadcast segments featuring various exhibitors.
Based on our experience working with the show’s 1100+ exhibitors, TIA suggests the following five tips for garnering press coverage from a trade show:
1. Identify key message points. Well before the event begins, develop the key talking points about your company, its mission and the products you’re going to promote. Continue to refine these messages as you get closer to the show and weave them into all of your communications, especially your press materials.
2. Develop press kits that are organized and easy to read. A press kit is a collection of vital pieces of information that makes it easier for the media to understand and accurately re-tell your story. A well-developed press kit can be a valuable tool that will help you leverage the media so they share your messages and create interest for your products … they may even offer a third-party endorsement! Be sure to include your booth number, website, social media links and contact information in all press materials.
3. Take full advantage of the resources offered by the trade show organizers. Resources will vary from show to show. Toy Fair’s PR team, for example, meets with exhibiting companies months in advance to identify key trends, develop industry talking points and scout products for a new product showcase and other media opportunities. Another example is Toy Fair’s Online Press Room, managed by Virtual Press Office, which provides a central go-to resource for both TIA and exhibiting companies to post electronic press kits, releases, images and videos for use by journalists before, during and after Toy Fair.
4. Conduct targeted media outreach before the show. As opening day approaches, exhibitors should contact members of the media who cover the event. Key questions to think through as you create your media outreach strategy include:
- Who do I want to reach (consumers, the business community, etc.)?
- Which websites or bloggers are ideal targets?
- How do I best target my media outreach? (Tip: Match your media strategy to your product launch strategy … local, regional or national)
- Is my product visual enough for television … does it make sound for radio … or photograph well for print?
- What social media outreach makes the most sense… do I have the time and resources to support a website, blog, or social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, etc.)?
- Where will I send reporters to access images, facts and info online? Is my website up-to-date with the most recent information?
- Do I have an interesting background story about my company or a specific product?
5. Opportunities for media coverage do not end once the show ends. Follow up with the media who stopped by your booth as they may have additional questions or want more details from you. Maintain these relationships throughout the year with timely and relevant information but be careful not to bombard journalists with information. You want to be perceived as a valuable information resource … not a pest.
Once you have some media exposure, be sure to leverage it! Easy ways to do this are creating a “Media Coverage” section on your site and/or blog and sharing with your social media followers.
Media coverage during a trade show can be tremendous benefit. In fact, some exhibitors will find the opportunities to introduce products to the media as important as their outreach to buyers. But great media exposure is not usually garnered by just “showing up”… it’s just as important to plan for the media as you would for your buyers.
As the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) senior manager of PR and trend specialist, Adrienne Appell maintains close communication with representatives of TIA’s more than 500 member toy companies to stay abreast of what’s new, next and cutting-edge in the toy industry. She is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with the media, including bloggers and other social media contacts.