Matter Chatter

What should your PR team do at CES?

With the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) about to begin, I’m sharing a few ideas for successful PR execution at this highly unique event.  Beyond all of the necessary and appropriate actions that should take place in advance of the show – and they are many! – below are a few basic, but fundamental, expectations a company should have for its PR agency team at CES:

  1. From the moment they arrive, the PR team should be well-versed in priority topics so they can speak intelligently while helping to guide discussions. They should be knowledgeable enough to smartly represent an organization when basic or timely inquiries are made. (I’ve found that many interactions related to a show like CES begin before the show officially kicks off, at events the evening before CES launches or en route to the show itself.) In addition, the PR team should be aware of booth protocol for referring individuals who may require a greater depth of response. Not knowing how to properly handle an inquiry means botching a business opportunity.

  2. The PR team should be active and constantly searching for ways to best leverage its client’s presence at the event. In addition to keeping eyes and ears peeled for timely opportunities for exposure – for example, that neighboring booth with the 2nd hottest topic trending the show might be leveraged in a variety of ways – the PR team should be looking to capitalize on ad hoc discussions, unscheduled interactions and random occurrences. (While it’s not always convenient for the client spokesperson, peppering the week’s agenda with unscheduled activities is exciting and positive, and a good way to maximize the investment in having a presence at the show.)

  3. On top of arranging a comprehensive set of press briefings with any/all interested media – again, that’s pre-work – the PR team should be present during all of the scheduled press appointments, ensuring that conversations stay on track and go as planned. Perhaps even more important, the PR team should take copious notes that allow for thorough follow-up after the show. Immediate gratification from press briefings is fabulous, rewarding and exciting, but, alas, not typical. To that end, it falls on the PR team’s shoulders to be certain that all media opportunities are seen to fruition. That process begins by staffing the briefing and taking solid notes.

  4. Independent of a detailed post-mortem that includes next steps related to every press interaction, the PR team should provide timely in-show progress updates throughout the week, so clients know how press activities are trending. For example, are social media channels being leveraged at the show as expected? Are planned activities being successfully complimented with the appropriate volume of ad hoc interactions? Are the press briefings being executed to maximum effect? Are the spokespeople on message? It’s smart to assess how things are going during the event in hopes that any necessary changes can be made during the show itself, rather than waiting until after the event is over and the momentum is lost.

  5. Finally, the PR team should “get,” and be on board with, the overall initiative of the client, and do whatever they can to help.  Though it was several years ago, I clearly remember unexpectedly surrendering two tables within Matter’s own tradeshow booth so that a client could have a meeting with a key retailer – putting PR on the backburner for a sales relationship.  PR activities occur concurrently to sales, marketing, product development and so many other priorities within the client organization.  The PR team should fully comprehend that and do whatever is necessary to help you succeed above and beyond PR.

Is there anything you’d add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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  • Jennifer Karin

    This might seem less strategic, but I would add bringing positive energy to the show. Trade shows are exhausting, and PR teams are often up late drafting press releases and coordinating last-minute details. Teams need to hide that exhaustion, and be an inviting presence in the booth. Sales folks know this, but it’s not always first on the minds of us ‘behind the scene’ workers. That positive, upbeat energy will buoy the week’s activities for everyone involved.