Trade shows are a wonderful way of networking and getting your message out. They’re also costly to participate in, which means a PR organization should set clear objectives and develop a plan to achieve its goals in the short time available.
For clients running a booth or meeting room at the show, this usually means weeks of preparation on the part of the agency, including scheduling interviews with attending media and analysts.
While meeting with media at trade shows is always a great way to spread the word about your organization or announcements at the show, it’s particularly important to synchronize with your analysts on what you want to discuss during these meetings.
Analyst relations is a very specific public relations skill, and agencies will sometimes specify individuals to take responsibility for managing those relationships. While media come to shows to learn about the industry and produce show coverage, analysts can show up for any number of reasons. In addition to gaining industry intelligence, an analyst’s mission at trade shows will likely include seeking out strategic partnerships.
It’s worth noting here that analysts absolutely have the potential to add value to your organization, and you may find that discussing strategic partnerships at a trade show could be immensely beneficial. That being said, PR pros should talk with any analysts they booked for their clients to make sure that all parties are on the same page because time is precious.
If the client is short on personnel and has a packed schedule, it’s OK to advise an analyst that they aren’t seeking new strategic partnerships at this point. They should still be interested in learning about what the client has to offer; after all, it’s their job to understand the industry landscape. Don’t be offended if the analyst turns you down in the interest of time, either. They have their own goals that they need to accomplish at the show, too!
Finally, make sure you and your spokespeople have a plan in place for a worst-case scenario. If you find yourself in the middle of what you thought was going to be a briefing turning into an unexpected sales pitch for their services, politely interject and offer to schedule a meeting with the appropriate contacts. If a meeting is mutually beneficial, there’s nothing wrong with continuing the conversation over the phone after the show.