How to Get Free Publicity at Your Trade Shows

Do you often find visitors coming to your trade show displays with a copy of a trade publication featuring your product?

custom esmart exhibit with circular header and stage

Custom eSmart Exhibit with Circular Header and Stage

Have your top executives been introduced to the editors at those trade publications? Have those magazines published case studies from your exhibit, pictures included? What about your exhibit being seen on national television or stories about your exhibit being picked up by the Associated Press or other wire services?

This should be happening if you are constantly focused on gaining publicity for your trade show program and, by extension, your company.

For many companies, the trade show environment is the perfect vehicle for public relations efforts like these. Why? It’s harder to capture the attention of the press on your own than it is when the press is scouring the exhibit hall for story ideas.

Still, even with representatives from television networks, newspapers, and magazines nipping at their heels, most exhibitors miss out on capitalizing on these opportunities.

Beyond just attending the show, why don’t trade show managers make the most of the chance for good coverage? Some of the most common excuses of those who don’t get the attention of the press are:

“I’m too busy with the exhibit to be putting together news releases.”

Many exhibitors make the mistake of thinking that press releases have to be both elaborate and lengthy. But actually, short is sweet, as long as you present something worthy of coverage.

If you’re too busy to handle this responsibility, you can find writers through outsourcing services like one I’ve worked with, You can also check out providers like eLance or Upwork or leave the job up to your advertising agency.

But you must realize that garnering publicity is critical to the overall success of your program. Knowing this, you’ll find the time to get the job done.

“The last time I put out news releases at a show, we didn’t get any coverage at all.”

This can happen, but it is also true that not every sales call results in a sale. And yet, even in spite of this reality, your salespeople still dutifully make call after call. Even when your efforts don’t bring results, you have to keep your eyes on the ultimate goal of getting a great story for your company.

“Every news outlet at the show already received our news release back at the office.”

True, your press release might have gotten to the office of a news organization.

But did it get to the new product editor or the editor in chief – the one who’s gone to the show to get a broad look at the industry?

And don’t overlook the power of a live demonstration of your product, which only happens at the show. That can interest even the most jaded editor who wouldn’t give your release a second glance at his desk.

Seeing your product in action is (or should be) far more compelling than leafing through the stack of press releases the editor receives every morning.

Also, remember that editors change roles often. The one in charge of the calendar one month may be in charge of technology the next. And you may not be reaching every editor in your efforts to get the word out before the show. So, take advantage of the unique opportunities that only exist at the event.

Never say, we don’t have anything new to promote! Click To Tweet

You may not think you have something new to report, but in this 24 hour a day news cycle we live in now, the hunger for stories is virtually insatiable. If you still think your product is worth selling, you ought to see it as worthy of finding something new to say about it.

custom island trade show exhibit

DM-1000f.jpg custom island trade show exhibit

You might want to start with your customers. Are there people using your product in new or unconventional ways? Is there a new market on the horizon? If so, tell an editor your story.

“Our advertising agency dropped the ball.”

If you’re working with the right agency, that shop should know that good publicity is better than anything money can buy. And they ought to be working as hard at getting you free press exposure as they are on finding ways to spend your advertising dollars.

On the other hand, if you’re not sold on the value of being covered by the press, you may be sending that message to your agency, and they’re taking the path of least resistance.

Are you expecting them to handle PR services for you as part of a package deal, or as a service to keep your account?

Have a heart to heart discussion with your agency representative to let them know how much you want to capitalize on this kind of exposure. Then be willing to pay the price. Ad agencies can’t get a commission from your trade show exhibit, so you have to make it worth their while to support this effort.

Trade Show Planning for Successful PR and Media Campaigns

When you have a media plan, you are effectively supporting your trade show booth. Trade show planning starts with determining what goals your company wishes to accomplish. A trade show is ideal for building, expanding, or reinforcing brand awareness for your company.

So, when trade show planning, think about your sales objectives and how you can engage your target audience and improve sales and conversions.

Marketing Materials

For more free publicity, you can use your marketing materials to showcase or introduce something you have available or something that is new. Make sure all your marketing materials are designed to attract your target audience. And remember, a publicity campaign typically comes before a marketing campaign.

Promotional Strategies

To build a more effective trade show marketing strategy, when trade show planning, set your goals, plan around a launch, and create promotional strategies that help spread the word ahead of the trade show.

Staff Booth Training

Promotional strategies, marketing materials, and other campaigns won’t mean anything if you don’t have proper staff booth training ahead of the trade show. Your staff should be well-versed in what they should say to prospective clients and booth visitors. They should also be able to answer any questions attendees may have about products.

Building Brand Awareness

Having a strategic pre show marketing plan can help with building brand awareness. This is an important step of the trade show planning process because it can help you fulfill your ultimate trade show objectives.

Standing Out in the Event Industry

When trade show planning, make sure you have a memorable and creative display booth that accurately represents your brand and conveys your message. Have elements that help you stand out in the event industry and take advantage of branded giveaways and promotional items.

Message Continuity

Message continuity is important when looking for the best publicity for your trade show. The goal of the trade show is to attract potential customers and engage with booth visitors. To do this, you can take on a more interactive approach or find new ways to prioritize with your visitors. However, no matter how you plan on marketing your event or spreading your brand awareness, you must maintain message continuity across the board.

Consistent messaging means more consistent branding. So, this means you need to have this continuity when it comes to your words, the design of your display booth and promotional materials, and everything else your booth offers.

Exhibit Industry Research

The Trade Show and Conference Planning Industry has a US market research report that includes historical data and analysis for key drivers of the event industry. It shows noted trends over five years and details research and segmentation for products and markets.

Having access to the right data and analytics can help you improve your strategies and find new and improved ways to reach your sales objectives.

The trade show business will continue to evolve, grow, and change. And the way you get your story in front of an editor may change, too. But it’s still important to put in the work to get your message out there. And because it requires a concerted effort to do this, many of your competitors won’t bother, which gives you a leg up in the marketplace. Take advantage of that.

What’s the missing element in your exhibit that could put it over the top? Do you need new graphics? New lighting? Banner stands? Or are you ready to take a look at a brand new build? Whatever your needs are, we can help.

Call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected]. We’d love to help you take your exhibit to the next level.