The Alphabet Soup of PR
By, Chris Michaels, Sr. Account Manager, Fusion LA (@chrisamichaels)
Typically, our year starts and ends with CES. Quickly, thereafter, we’re planning for and attending 3GSM, RSA, DEMO, ISC, CTIA, OMMA, NAB, ITEC, ASIS, GDC, INTEROP, SIGGRAPH, I/ITSEC and a few more along the way. There’s the hassle of traveling through SFO, OAK, SJC, LAS, LAX, JFK, ORD, ORL PDX, DCA and the occasional swing through DEN, SLC, ATL or HOU as you change planes.
It’s the proverbial alphabet soup of tech PR tradeshow staffing.
Most clients understand that there’s someone else other than the regular salesforce on the floor, who keeps pulling you aside to speak with someone donning either a “Media” or “Analyst” badge. As PR folks, we pride ourselves in not only keeping you busy with meetings, and seamlessly becoming an extension of your team.
Sometimes, I feel like people don’t understand the amount of work that goes into a good show. So, if you’re unaware of some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into helping to create a knockout tradeshow, here’s the skinny:
Planning for the events begins months ahead of time. We’re coordinating with our clients to know what announcements we’re going to launch at the show. We’re ensuring that we’re all registered for the event, floor space is acquired, and that I&D houses are developing our booths. We secure the attending media list and send out “Save the Date” messages to reporters to start scheduling meetings. We draft our press releases; get them routed with our clients, and sometimes partners, for review.
A few weeks out, we coordinate and sometimes arrange the travel, lodging, and shipping of materials. Then, we develop backgrounders and press materials for briefings, build out a tradeshow book and confirm all of the scheduled meetings. Next, we host pre-briefings in advance of the event to ensure that there’s news breaking when the doors open.
Then the fun begins. Your release goes out, and the doors open for 2-4 days of on-your-feet staffing at the booth, answering questions from attendees while you’re constantly on the hunt for media badges. You shuffle your executives from one interview to the next, emailing press kits from your Blackberry, coordinating rescheduled briefings on the fly, and somewhere in there we scarf a Clif Bar for lunch. Then, we often get to staff a mixer or reception that runs until midnight, before passing out in a hotel bed.
It’s an exhilarating environment to be constantly on the move, and it’s great to see the barrage of good coverage that comes from a show. But, we truly put in lot of work to make sure it’s a hit.
To date, I’ve been through 20 airports, slept in maybe 30 hotels and ridden in over 200 cabs. I’ve racked-up a boat-load of frequent flier miles and Marriot points, and I still have 30 years to retirement. But rest assured, on my next trip I’ll be just as prepared, organized and ready to do it all again with a smile.