Your Trade Show Shouldn’t be a Trade Secret

March 19, 2019

Katie Seifert

Katie Seifert is Vice President of the Trade Shows and Exhibitions group at Coyne PR. With close to two decades of experience in the industry, Katie’s work has included helping exhibitors enhance their PR presence at industry trade events along with driving strategic communications campaigns to increase media attendance and coverage for the shows themselves.

In the trade show industry, the mantra of “if you build it, they will come” is not one to live by. With so much time and effort spent on the planning and execution of the show, shouldn’t an equal amount of time be dedicated to developing a communications campaign that ensures that all of the key audiences – exhibitors, attendees and yes, media – are aware of your show, what it is and why they should be there?

When it comes to promoting a trade show, one of the tools that are often overlooked but could have the biggest impact and best return on investment, is public relations. Public Relations is not just about getting the local daily newspaper to attend or issuing a press release to the masses. When integrated as a core component in your show’s overall marketing plan, PR has the potential to make waves instead of just being a drop in the bucket. 

Here are just a few ways PR can play a major role in delivering for your show.

Elevate the show: Leveraging PR enables you to elevate your event beyond “just another show.” By adopting compelling and impactful story-telling strategies, you have the opportunity to tell audiences why your trade show is different and why it’s a can’t-miss event for your industry. 

Whether it’s an unrivaled mix of exhibitors that can’t be found anywhere else; the ONE place that your industry comes together to network, or where major manufacturers debut new products, you have the chance to differentiate yourself from competitive events. The tools at your disposal are endless and when integrated into your overall marketing plan, they will help ensure that your show stands out! 

Build stronger relationships with exhibitors: Creating PR opportunities for exhibitors is a win-win for them and you. Providing access to PR opportunities – especially those that are free of charge to exhibitors – can go a long way in building goodwill and equity to ensure their return year after year. 

For new exhibitors, highlighting PR opportunities during the prospecting phase can be the added incentive some companies need to sign on the dotted line. As the show organizer, you benefit greatly from exhibitors that are engaged in promoting their presence because it means that you have more people advocating for your show.  

The one thing I would like to stress is that you should over-communicate these opportunities to your exhibitors. If they don’t know about these opportunities, they can’t take advantage of them and you can’t benefit from their added support of your show! 

Draw new attendees: Without a doubt, cultivating and maintaining good relationships with trade media in your sector is crucial to ensuring that core industry stakeholders and audiences are aware of the event and relevant registration deadlines. 

But I want to let you in on a secret – just because your event is primarily attended by publications that are focused on your specific industry, doesn’t mean that consumer-focused media won’t also have a vested interest. As you look at the different verticals of your show, think about the consumer media that cover those beats. By inviting them to attend and write about your trade show, you’re reaching new audiences and in turn, potential new attendees!

It’s your show. Tell people about it. Through PR, you will be able to create a reason for potential audiences – attendees and exhibitors – to invest and for returning attendees and exhibitors to become your advocates. Don’t miss this opportunity!


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