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The media need you as much as you need them

No one likes rejection. Perhaps that’s why some corporate exhibit managers or their public relations counterparts loathe pitching the media. However, many journalists are over-worked, over-whelmed and underpaid. And as much as I hate to admit it, I am grateful when a corporate PR pro makes my job and life easier.

This is particularly true for show/event coverage, when I am spammed and slammed by companies seeking media coverage for their exhibits, companies or products/services. I am not alone, so don’t resist calling, emailing or stopping me on the show floor. Just be professional, and I will treat you professionally and respectfully.

“I received 667 emails for CES 2012,” said Gerry Kaufhold, an industry analyst with In-Stat Group. “Only about a third offered information I was interested in.”

Gerry analyzes technology and market trends in the digital video industry and forecasts the growth of emerging digital video applications. He is a highly sought after expert resource for journalists, therefore companies strive to be on his radar screen.

“The best way to break through email and voice mail barriers is to talk regularly with your media contacts,” said Gerry. “Email is great for continuous contact, but reporters, editors and analysts need to hear your voice, want to build a relationship with you before you ‘need’ them, before you go to a show, so call, be a resource.”

Holly Jenssen, associate editor for Ethanol Producer Magazine, agrees that building relationships is vital to earning media attention before, during and after a tradeshow or event.

“Don’t think of yourself as a controller of me and my story,” said Jenssen. “Think of yourself as a resource to help connect me with the sources, photos and information I need. Contact me before the event to set a meeting, but understand that I don’t want to chit- chat or to be wined or dined.”

As a senior editor at mashable.com, Charlie White attends several tradeshows annually in search of what’s new and trendy. He is responsible for gadget news and reviews and mashables.com’s weekend coverage. As busy as he is, Charlie demands little from PR reps at tradeshows.

“Please let me know when you’re going to a show,” said White. “Don’t tell me something is new when it isn’t. Send a press release with the price and release date of the product and include pictures. And tell me when your product will ship.”

As news director for SFGate.com, Vlae Kershner supervises news content selection and independent story production for the San Francisco Chronicle’s website. The San Francisco Chronicle is one of the nation’s largest daily newspapers.

“Know who does what within the media outet,” said Kershner. “I’m always being pitched by people who have no idea that the print newspaper and the online edition are separately edited. I have nothing to do with assigning reporters, but I can get suggestions to bloggers on certain topics. Also, propose experts to comment on a breaking news story, but get the pitch in in the first few hours after a story breaks.”

Aleta’s tips for gleaning media hits

  1. Build relationships with members of the media before your tradeshow.
  2. Get the show media list ASAP and integrate updates as the show gets closer.
  3. Review potential targets. Know what the media outlet covers and who covers what.
  4. Be selective when reaching out to the media. Quality over quantity.
  5. Review editorial calendars for show editions. Know submission deadlines and submission guidelines.
  6. Post your news in a show’s online pressroom. Post as early as possible.
  7. Submit press releases for inclusion in the show’s daily publications.
  8. Call the media, but be brief. Gauge interest and continue as appropriate.
  9. Post show media kit documents, photos, graphics and video on your website and make it all easy to find.
  10. Have a PR rep in the exhibit at all times. If not, let booth staff know who the PR rep is and how to reach her/him immediately.
  11. Make sure your spokesperson is articulate and trained to emphasize talking points and sound bites.
  1. Don’t spam the media list with your press release or media alerts.
  2. Don’t use the previous year’s media list. Beats, reporters, writers and editors change.
  3. Don’t send a four-page press release. Keep news tight and concise; two pages, tops.
  4. Don’t pressure me to cover your news. I’ll determine what’s newsworthy.
  5. Don’t ask to “review” my article or blog for accuracy or quote confirmation.
  6. Don’t host a press conference unless you are Microsoft, Chevrolet or Intel.
  7. Don’t tell me you’re an advertiser.
  8. Don’t pull your executive or spokesperson out of an interview to meet with an important customer.
  9. Don’t overlook freelance writers/contributing editors. Many publications cut staff then bring them back as freelancers. Freelance writers are always looking for article ideas they can pitch to editors or producers.
  10. Don’t forget to provide me your cell phone number in case I am delayed or have to cancel our show meeting. Don’t forget to ask for mine, but use it judiciously.

Exhibit City News contributing writer Aleta Walther was among three panelists presenting their views on media relations during Exhibitor2012 in March: Media Members Tell it Like it is.” Also on the panel were Travis Stranton, editor of Exhibitor Magazine, and Wayne Dunham, former print reporter and publicist for the Exhibitor Show. The following is an article Aleta wrote for seminar attendees.

Posted in Features
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