Educational Minute

PR Tips for Meeting with the Media at Tradeshows

  • Remember what editors want and expect. They want new information and/or an audience with an expert. Don’t use the visit to talk generally about “innovation,” “leadership,” and other largely empty buzzwords. Don’t trot out an executive if he’s got nothing newsworthy to say. “Someday, we’ll have a hybrid” isn’t news. Even though this remains a relationship business, don’t use the visit as a social engagement. The best relationships with editors come from being a great provider of information.

    • Give editors new products, new technologies and a source that is knowledgeable and engaging. Have a press kit on a flash drive or a disc as a takeaway. 
    • Complete booth tours tend to confuse and take the spotlight away from what’s truly new. Don’t dilute yourself.
  • Set a respectful time limit. You’re not the only manufacturer in the universe. Fifteen minutes to a half-hour, max. Be on time and ready, even if editors are running late (and believe me, we do—probably because the last manufacturer or agency wasn’t as prepared as you).
    • Something I liked to do as a host was take an editor away from my booth to a less hectic place, at least for any non-product walk around part of a visit. This did two things for me: It kept my product manager/SME more focused and away from the temptation to talk to or watch customers, and it kept the editor from having to look at their competitor stalking around the booth awaiting their turn.
    • Let salespeople and publishers attend. They’re a valuable part of the team. In the event an uncouth salesperson starts to pitch, politely tell them that this is not the time. 
    • Don’t gang-up on the editor—there’s no need to have agency personnel and a client encircling the two people talking.
  • Train your team to meet with the media. Just because someone’s an expert on backhoes doesn’t mean they can’t slip up and spout too much about your company’s R&D or mention how a particular size class isn’t doing well.
    • Provide talking points. Meld what the brand needs to accomplish with what the product manager wants to accomplish and come up with content that’s easily digested and repeatable. Have your SME practice.
    • Prepare your team for the possibility of video. It should never, ever be a surprise when someone wants to shoot an interview and/or a product walk around. Incorporate it into media training if possible.
    • If you know a certain product manager tends to freeze or stammer on camera, have a back-up person available and trained. Chances are that your booth is filled with qualified staff—don’t rule out regional salespeople, national account folks, or even good dealers. 
  • Ask what the editor may do with the material he or she has just heard. Will there be an immediate web hit to watch for? What about print coverage in a particular issue? (You do remember print, don’t you?) And, be sure to do a post-mortem report for the team. Include what was discussed, what was promised as a follow up, and whose responsibility it is. What might the brand expect out of the visit?

Provided by:  Frank Raczon, Senior Editor of Construction Equipment magazine and, has been writing in the construction industry for more than 25 years.