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Flash Drives 'Green' the Trade Show Industry

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Friday, 09 November 2012

Trade Show PR Mining …

It’s Not Just the

Fastest, Biggest Gun

Source - “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Warner Brothers

“We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges.” – Gold Hat (Alfonso Bedoya),The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Warner Brothers – 1948

Shows like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), challenge your stamina.

They push everyone to the limits of creativity and performance.

Companies spend hundreds of thousands to attend them annually just to reach, educate, inform, persuade other companies and the media.

But CES is the big daddy/the Broadway of shows. 

There are hundreds, thousands of shows that take place every day around the globe that test you, prepare you for each bigger, better event.

Companies large and small attend to get visibility, attention, coverage; and if they’re really, really lucky, they get excellent leads and sales.

Media (press folks), in greater or lesser numbers, attend them all.

Naturally, the publicists are there pushing to get coverage for their companies’ better ideas, better products.

Over the years, most of the events have taken up the banner of “green” press rooms.

Move Becomes Trend
The forward-thinking Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) was (we believe) the first to eliminate paper in the pressroom several years ago, recommending an online press service VPO (Virtual Press Office).

The majority of PR people don’t have the luxury of a “gotta’ visit” company web site. They have to work really hard to get attention for their companies.

That means they have two choices – take advantage of a virtual press shopping mall or have their own news store and hope for traffic.

Some companies still have a few paper kits in the booth for diehards who have strong backs.

They still hold press events and give out shotskies.

They still have press meetings.

They still get coverage.

Most events are following suit with green pressrooms.

Some stick with the past out of habit.

Some waffle.

Walter Huston/Howard looks at them and says, “I know what gold does to men's souls.”

For company management the gold is the coverage they unearth.

For a lot of publicists, its how much material they cram into the press kit and carry with them.

Of course, coverage should have started weeks, months before the show but that seldom happens because:
- things really aren’t ready – products and/or press materials
- someone wants to keep the “news” a big surprise so they scoop the competition

Early announcement/coverage is a tough sell to engineering/management…get over it!

That’s just one of the reasons publicity at the event puts a lot of pressure on the publicist.

Or as Huston/Howard explained it, “Hey you fellas, how 'bout some beans? You want some beans? Goin' through some mighty rough country tomorrow, you'd better have some beans.”

Management expects magnificent coverage despite the fact that the company’s announcements are competing with everyone else for mindshare.

For some stacks recycled, rehashed releases are proof they did their job.

After that…it’s all media’s fault!!!

Paper or Plastic?
Always hate it when the grocery clerk asks us that.

It sounds like we have to make a choice between chopping down trees and helping release plastic molecules that had been trapped in the ground (credit to George Carlin).

Electronic kits seem easier because:
- There are always last-minute release changes or added releases so they can be posted; and no one will ever know it wasn’t “already in the plan.”
- The company is easier to identify than going to the press kit room and seeing packages of stuff from firms in the pigeon holes and hoping – you’re on an equal footing with the big guy.
- Publicists don’t have to lug boxes to the show, onsite media people don’t have to throw away barrels of paper as they dig out the gems they want, will use.
- Online provides detailed metrics as to who accessed, which announcement(s) they viewed, which subjects were of most importance to the media.
- Onsite media folks can sit in the press room and flip through all the kits while having refreshments and can cut/paste their news or files for later reference.
- Not every media person who wants to cover the show’s news can afford the time/expense to attend but with a few well placed mouse clicks…they’re digging for gold every day.

Some folks cling to bridge solutions – CD or flash drive.

Most media folks just never have the time to organize all of the stuff they got at the show because they have deadlines, commitments. The generally poorly labeled discs sit in piles for a few months and are discarded.

But not the flash drives. They’re given to friends, associates, the kids to use for storing their stuff so the kit’s “folder” enjoys a second life.

The online show kit means:
- no begging for release approvals a week before the show so kits can be produced
- no rushing to print, stuff, overnight ship kits to the tradeshow floor
- no late night visits to the event city’s local quickprint place to redo a couple of releases and restuff the kit on your hotel room bed
- media folks actually believe that the company (and PR people) are super-professional, super-organized

The real key is that event publicity starts with news materials for a reason. You know:
- new products, new services, and new applications
- thorough background, including presentations/white papers when necessary

It is not about copies of releases from the past three months, data sheets/sales literature.

Of course, release writing is work.

Good news release writing – is even harder work and should be drilled into the publicist before he/she sends his/her first text message…first IM…first tweet.

Releases aren’t short stories or the great American novel.

They’re just good news items … live with it!

News writing has to:
- get past the company approval committee
- convince the media it should be of interest to them
- convince the media it should be of interest to their audience

That’s about the time Bogart/Dobbs says, “Nobody puts one over on Fred C. Dobbs.”

A virtual press service at shows isn’t a revolutionary, bleeding-edge or a dangerous idea.

It’s the way things are going for PR people who don’t weigh their value/their worth in cut lumber and pounds.

Imagine something that is green, faster, easier to use, delivers better media reach and actually costs less.

Source - “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” Warner Brothers

As Tim Holt/Curtin pointed out, “You know, the worst ain't so bad when it finally happens. Not half as bad as you figure it'll be before it's happened.”

This web thing just may be real !!!

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