At our most recent Business Wire Meet the Media event, we brought together Fast Company and Inc., CNET, Digital Trends, Tom’s Guide and Laptop Mag, and Refinery29 to share their recommendations on best ways to get their attention, schedule meetings, provide assets and conduct follow-ups during an event as big as CES. If you are in charge of trade show publicity, these tips are a great way to maximize your presence at any show.

The event, moderated by Nicole Pfeifer, Senior Director at SourceCode Communications, featured the following panelists: 

  • Chris Allen, Director of Editorial Video, Fast Company and Inc.
  • Roger Cheng, Executive Editor, CNET
  • Jeremy Kaplan, Editor in Chief, Digital Trends
  • Anabel Pasarow, Tech Writer, Refinery29 
  • Sherri L. Smith, Assistant Managing Editor, Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag

Did you know?
Business Wire is the official newswire for CES and other major trade shows. During CES 2019, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers distributed more than 1,100 news releases and multimedia. That is a lot of breaking news being shared at one show! This is why CNET, for example, sends nearly 100 people to CES (including video production and writers). “The pressure is extremely high for us - it is our Super Bowl,” says Cheng.

So how do you maximize your trade show presence and make your pitch stand out from the thousands that go out?

Panelists’ best practices advice you can apply to CES and tech reporters:

  • Don’t call reporters to pitch your news. Business Wire suggests to email or to use a newswire to get the complete information into reporters’ hands.
  • Pay attention to your subject line and headlines. Sometimes journalists can't read the email or news release, but they do read the subject lines.
  • Be prepared. While cold calling reporters is a no-no, a reporter may call you, so be ready to answer questions about your pitch. If you don’t have answers, credibility can be lost.
  • Do not generalize. Misleading reporters is a fast way to get your news ignored. “’5G is going to be big this year,’ tell me that you have the fastest 5G, or you will have the first product featuring 5G - those words, key phrases will draw my eye and keep my attention,” says Smith.
  • Know who and what are you pitching. Do your homework. For example, Refinery29 covers the intersection between beauty and tech so if you have news that fits this beat, reach out! At CES, Pasarow is covering 15 categories, including fashion, beauty, smartphones, wellness -- and is choosing a product winner for each. 
  • Mass pitching is never a good idea. Do your homework about the individual writer you're pitching. This allows you to customize your pitch to match their beat and their audience’s needs. Don't do a mass pitch to reporters at a single publication. Reporters talk, and if they find you are pitching their colleagues, they will walk away from the story.
  • Be creative! When trying to schedule a time to meet during the show, think outside the box. CES and other major shows span several locations, making it hard to meet up. Try something new. For example, offer to give people a ride from one location to another and pitch during the ride. Every reporter needs to get from the airport to their hotel, why not be the one to take them?  
  • Set up pitch meetings on the days before the show officially starts. Many reporters arrive to the show early. Be proactive and meet journalists before CES officially starts.  “Saturday, Sunday, Monday before CES, those are prime days that no one takes advantage of,” says Smith. Allen concurs: “If you can come and see us in New York, bring something for us to show. Video takes a little bit longer to turn around, but we are more than happy to shoot something ahead of time and to save it until it drops.”
  • Create trend stories! This is a great tip for agencies that have multiple clients attending the show. If you can showcase how three companies support an existing or emerging trend, pitch it. 
  • Ask to be included in round-up pieces. From news pieces journalists are moving to trend stories and roundups, the goal remains: “To do a service to readers, we really need to show where the industry is moving, what's happening, and what transformative stuff was out at the show,” says Kaplan. 
  • Don't ask reporters to participate in contests at CES. They may have to get buy-in from management and have rules related to prizes, etc.
  • Promote the CES coverage you receive. If you don't promote coverage you receive, reporters notice. Plus, editorial coverage is highly trusted coverage, so promoting it actually helps the audience trust your brand. Business Wire also suggests creating a coverage amplification plan that includes social media and paid ads to maximize the visibility and impact of these pieces.

What types of CES pitches work well?

  • Informative 
  • How-to
  • “Here is something you didn't know was an issue but we solved it”

How to manage embargoes and exclusives during CES 

  • Make your embargo pitch 75 characters long – use the length of your headline to pique interest, and then ask if they are interested in doing an embargo. If you have genuinely good product or service, make it clear up top. Don’t put important information at the bottom of the pitch. 
  • Offer a true exclusive. “I’m all about exclusives - it makes my heart three times larger when I get exclusives,” says Smith.
    • Having multiple embargoes can lead to issues if one publication breaks the embargo. Be strategic and be prepared for your embargo to be broken.
    • Don’t ask for an embargo if your product is already on your website.
    • Merely stating “This is an embargo” inside your email pitch does not mean the reporter accepts the embargo.

Multimedia is a great way to pitch

  • Every reporter can use visuals to publish with their articles. Include multimedia in your news release to save reporters time and effort during a busy show.
  • Visual components make a compelling pitch. Business Wire suggests if you have a photo, a video or interactive asset that tells your product’s story, include it! Visual components are no longer optional for trade show coverage.
  • If you are pitching a video team, mention your video elements in your first sentence. 
  • Online media kits, news releases, Dropbox, USB stick, business card with QR code, tech specs - make sure you have your story assets easily accessible to reporters at your booth.
  • Many reporters livestream from the show. For example, the Digital Trends team has several mobile teams walking throughout the show floor. Have your multimedia ready and help feed into the content being created at the show.

Navigating on-site meetings

  •  “The best follow-up to an onsite meeting is to offer additional assets,” says Allen.
  • Send follow-up information immediately. “If I make a plan that we're going to do something, I'm probably going back to a room to write that right now. If I don't have the facts in front of me, that's a problem,” says Kaplan. 
  • Keep in mind, a reporter may miss your scheduled appointment. Don’t worry! Reporters don't mean to miss appointments, and if you got on their calendar in the first place, they will try to reschedule. But make it easy for reporters to reschedule! Don't make reporters come to you, go to them!

Start early

Ideally, the pitching window for CES 2020 would have begun well before the holidays, as CES takes place right after the new year. Use some of the tips above to help with last-minute efforts. And, of course, be sure to get a head start for CES 2021!

Organizations across the globe attend trade shows with the goal of increasing the reach, visibility and sales of their products and services. But being recognized and covered is not easy, especially when so many other attending companies are fighting for the same visibility. By taking advantage of the above tips, you can increase the opportunity for your news to be selected for coverage. 

Looking for more ways to increase impact during trade show season? Download our Guide to Generating Trade Show Publicity today.


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