Getting media attention at international trade fairs is a challenging task for any communication professional. These events attract hundreds or even thousands of industry leaders worldwide, making competition for coverage quite intense for all participants.

As my experience shows, it doesn’t matter how many years of expertise you have. Every time something goes wrong, ruining all your plans and expectations. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a strategy. It’s always easier to adjust it during the event when to manage everything chaotically.

Let me walk you through some crucial steps that can help you create an effective communication campaign at a trade fair and stay calm despite all difficulties you can face.

Step 1. Find your story angle

Before drafting any press release or pitch, it’s better to clearly understand what angle can work well for your brand and bring you high-quality media coverage. To get this idea of it, spend some time analyzing industry trends and the media outlets you’re planning to reach.

  • Select two-three trends that resonate with your brand.
  • Create a list of reporters, staff writers who cover your industry and read their articles.
  • Identify several regional or international industry-specific problems that your company’s product can help resolve at least partially.

After that, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the current regional and international trends and basically feel what to include into your pitch or press release to make it relevant to the journalists who plan to attend the upcoming event.

Suppose your company works in the sustainability or green energy industry. In that case, you can build a communication campaign around one of your products, helping a local community ease or resolve an environmental challenge they’re facing.

Sometimes it’s enough to spend a few hours reading some local news websites to understand what angle to choose for your campaign.

Step 2. Find a local PR agency

Suppose a trade show takes place in a region where you have never worked before. In that case, it’s always helpful to find a local public relations agency or communication consultants with some local experience. That can save you a lot of time as they speak the local language, know the right journalists to reach out to, and – it’s very crucial – live with them in one time zone. Their recommendations help you adjust your story angle perfectly and get high-quality media attention.

If you don’t know how to find a local communication agency, then let me share some tips with you:

  • Find several lists of the best regional PR Agencies
  • Choose 5-7 companies from the top of it and check their websites and portfolios
  • Create a detailed list of services you need and the KPI you expect from them
  • Reach out to the companies to enquire how much they would charge

Don’t forget to ask for a 10-15% discount. If their offers don’t fit your budget, just tell them what amount would work for you. Sometimes, it helps a lot as the PR companies either accept the amount or suggest how it’s possible to adjust the services list. Usually, not all services are necessary, and your KPI can also be adjusted to the budget you have.

Step 3. Cooperate with the organizing committee

If you have never cooperated with a trade fair’s communication team, start right now. These people are responsible for media accreditation and know precisely who is planning to cover their event.

  • Reach out to them and pitch your company as an industry leader
  • Ask them about sponsorship packages and publicity opportunities for participants
  • Feel free to ask them to share with you some full names of the journalists from the publications you’d like to pitch.

No guarantee that you’ll get their emails, but anyway, it’s easier to find contact details if you know at least something. Apart from that, you can read some articles of the journalists and create personalized pitches to grab their attention.

Step 4. Send out press releases

Before any trade show, it’s helpful to produce all communication documents before the event, including an announcement, a press release, and a post-release. I recommend creating at least some drafts that can be easily adjusted during the event. Managing media relations on-site requires a lot of time for each team member, and it’s better not to waste it on writing something from scratch.

Here’s a list of what else you need during the event to maximize coverage:

  • Press kit (your speaker’s biography, some industry- and company-specific fact sheets, a press release)
  • An interpreter if your speaker doesn’t know the local language
  • A photographer, if you want to attach some photos to your post-release or share them via social media

To help your press announcement stand out, I recommend sending it out several hours before a trade fair starts. Otherwise, it will just disappear in the volume of information. To maximize your communication efforts, one of your team members can also produce some hard news based on your speaker’s quotes and send them out during the event.

Step 5. Organize interviews on-site

If you want to maximize the number of articles, then do your best to organize an interview. Reach out to news agency reporters first as almost all newspapers and TV channels monitor their news feeds every day and use their stories as hooks to dig deeper or quote in featured stories. Apart from that, this approach guarantees many reprints in various local or regional online or print publications.

Here are some recommendations on how to organize a perfect on-site interview:

  • Create a detailed Q&A, including answers to contradictory questions that might come up during the interview
  • Share some tips with a speaker on how to give a TV interview
  • Tape-record the whole interview. If a journalist makes a mistake, it’ll be easier to persuade them to fix it
  • Ask the reporter to share their phone number if you don’t have it. If something urgent happens, you’ll be able to reach them quickly

Apart from an interview, your speaker can give journalists some short comments on an industry-specific topic. So, always be ready for some spontaneous media opportunities that might arise during the event.

Communication campaigns at trade fairs are not the easiest way to get publicity. That’s why everything should be planned. And this step-by-step guide based on my hands-on experience can help make your communication campaign effective despite all difficulties you can face.