3 Ways to Get Free Media Exposure for Your Expo Booths
One of the most unfortunate things we often see are trade show displays & exhibits where the people staffing them are clearly just waiting around to have people come look at them. It’s common enough, of course, among trade show rookies. For a lot of shops, it’s hard enough just getting the display stand together at all, in those initial attempts.
But somewhere along the way, a business that’s serious about their expo booths will need to also get serious about publicizing them.
We talk a lot about how to leverage your existing lead database from previous expo displays or how to boost your online appealamong bloggers and social media… but the traditional media still hold a lot of power as well. They should be an important, if not absolutely vital, part of your trade show planning.
The best part is, a lot of the time, this will be totally free to you. After all, the press loves anything making publicity. If you can pique their interest or make a good pitch, you can set up some excellent opportunities to get your message out.
Promoting Your Trade Show Exhibits & Displays Through The Media
Without talking about pure advertising ventures for your expo displays, such as posters and billboards, there are really three key areas of the media to be concerned with here: TV, Radio, and Newspapers.
Getting on the TV in any fashion is still great for a young and growing business. Besides the obvious appeal of going live, this also gives you great material for your clip reels and any promotional videos you might put online later.
Depending on the size of the show and the city, the local news may or may not be that interested to start with. So, learn what you can beforehand. Look into what sponsors the nearby news stations have – would any of those sponsors have a tie to the trade show or to your industry? How about show management or ownership? Or a sister company?
If that fails, try to come up with a good pitch for why your booth and the trade show would make for a strong segment – has the station covered any topics related to your industry, these types of products, this market segment? Are you announcing a new product release? Do some detective work – it’s not an impossible task, because they’re looking for newsworthy stories every day – find the best angle to present your idea.
Then, it’s just a matter of a calling. Try to learn the name of each stations’ business managers beforehand, if you can find it. Make your pitch. If it pays off, you’ll have cameras covering you and hopefully some great material to spread online! If you get to talk about your products themselves, you potentially get thousands or millions of new eyeballs.
Radio stations can often be easier to work with at expositions, as they’re generally hungrier for promotional opportunities. It’s rare to have a trade show of any size lack at least one or two stations present, so it’s certainly achievable.
Radio is great for live interactive spots. If you can get a broadcast from your expo booth, or get some time at their setup, it reaches out to a lot of the people who aren’t watching Twitter all the time. It’s also often possible to arrange for on-air games, contests, or other promotions, based on how popular you can convince the station your expo booth will be.
Radio stations also tend to have slightly more overt personalities, so focus on those that fit your demographics anyway. As with TV, check their sponsors list (virtually always prominent on their websites) and see if there are any tied into the trade show already.
Also, check with the exhibition’s main staff to see if they’ve made any arrangements with local radio stations already. If so, that’s something you could get in on if you made the calls early enough. See what their plans are, and see if you can make something dovetail with your expo booth plans.
No, print isn’t as exciting as live media, but it’s still got it’s readership. A good interview or review of your offerings in a local newspaper, journal, or magazine will still get you seen by new people, as well as providing wonderful material for your PR campaigns. Print notices are a goldmine of one-line pull quotes for use in other advertising, as well as longer testimonials.
Call every newspaper in the area and see if they’ll send someone over to cover the show and hopefully you. Consider any magazines based nearby as well, but remember they still have long lead times so that would have a delayed payoff.
Also, don’t forget the little free journals, the sort that are given away for free outside grocery stores. They’re often overlooked, yet read by many. In fact, that’s how The Onion began, and you can still read its print copy free if you live in a few major cities. It’s a niche, but it’s got its appeal.
If your company has any appeal to the “common man,” you could find some cheap and easy PR this way. Plus, more clippings!
And Afterwards? Keep Those Contacts!
Whenever you have a successful interaction with a media outlet, that will make your life significantly easier should you visit that town again. Keep business cards or other contact info on everyone you meet, so that you’ll be able to quickly set up new promotional ventures for future trade show displays.
Despite the stationary nature of the expo booth, running a successful trade show display is far more than just waiting for people to come to you. The months leading up to a new trade show are the time you should be making the phone calls and trying to drum up interest in your booth among anyone you can think of.
Leverage social media contacts when you get the opportunity as well, especially those on LinkedIn.
It’s tough, at first, getting media contacts interested in your trade show displays and the shows you’re at, but with some persistence, you can make connections that will really pay off. You’ll get immediate publicity, great material for future ad campaigns, and an expanding network of media contacts that will help ensure your convention appearances get noticed!