Planning for Tradeshows with PR Pros

synteract1So, your company has signed up to participate in a tradeshow. Your staff is excited, schedules are blocked off, and you can’t wait to rack up those airline miles on your roundtrip flight. But what will you and your staff actually do once you step off the plane? What’s your overall goal in exhibiting? What will your tradeshow booth look like? How can you leverage the PR value of exhibiting? That’s where reality hits – and a good PR team steps in.

I recently participated in helping one of our clients prepare for the Drug Information Association (DIA) 2014 conference, a 3-day event that brings together an international community of professionals working in pharmaceutical and medical product development-related fields. I’ve been working in public relations for a few years but had never been involved in planning for a full tradeshow booth and exhibition (luckily, the team at Clearpoint Agency has decades of experience in it).

Let me tell you – I learned so much! Over the course of four months, the Clearpoint team worked closely with our client and a creative design team partner to create a dynamic tradeshow presence, complete with a large booth, a rotating schedule of speakers, iPad® and PowerPoint® presentations, giveaways and more.

Here’s an overview of how a PR agency can help prepare you for your next big tradeshow:

  • Determine key messages: In the planning stages for the tradeshow, our PR agency was instrumental in brainstorming ideas for the main creative theme of the booth. We knew we needed a unified idea that would tie every element together, both supporting our client and appealing to our audiences. It wouldn’t make sense to simply bring old brochures, posters, and banners; every piece of the booth needed to have a purpose. Knowing that the audience for this show predominantly would be emerging biotechs that need guidance in the clinical trial process, we settled on the theme “We have your answers,” and from there, we began planning the details of the other exhibition components. It was important to have us involved in the initial stages because over the course of our relationship with the client, we’ve fine-tuned the messaging. We know what language works.
  • synteract2Create engaging collateral: In addition to putting together messaging and content for the booth graphics, our team developed a significant amount of marketing collateral. Clearpoint created content for ads in trade publications, wrote and updated presentations for company spokespeople, developed a pocket brochure for booth visitors, wrote content for a DIA-specific landing page on the client’s website and more. It was our task to keep the content consistent with the “We have your answers” theme. Everything down to the 5×7 recruitment cards we had available at the booth had to match the look and feel of the overall plan.
  • Drive social media traffic: Publicizing tradeshow happenings before, during and after the event is key so that both attendees and non-participants can stay up-to-date with activities. For us, Twitter was a big part of the DIA tradeshow experience. Of course, the conference had its own hashtag, but we decided to try our hand at making our own DIA-specific one. Weeks in advance of the show, we publicized “#DIA2014answers” by tweeting it, announcing it on the client’s website, including it in pre-show email blasts and more. During the conference, we live tweeted and posted photos to our client’s Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
  • Make media meetings happen: Journalists with specific beats frequently attend tradeshows to get the inside story on different companies. A good PR agency plans news announcements that can be made at the show, pitches meetings with media in advance, develops media talking points for company executives, creates briefing books with interview schedules, facilitates interviews, and manages the follow-up to be sure reporters have the information they need. We were pleased to arrange several interviews for our client at DIA.

Tradeshows are fast-paced, busy and expensive events that require thoughtful planning to ensure a return on your investment. Consider outsourcing the work to a skilled PR team that can partner with you and bring your vision to life!

This blog post was contributed by Amanda Whitlock, Account Executive at Clearpoint Agency.