Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.
Best tradeshow marketing tips and case studies. Call 800-654-6946.

Public Relations

Tradeshow Pre-Show Publicity Guide

BarCamp AMS 2005 Opening - 35

If you want to get the most out of your tradeshow exhibit, you should do your utmost to let people know before the show that you’ll be there by using a tradeshow pre-show publicity guide. Not only will it give those folks who can’t attend the show a chance to learn about your new offerings and the fact that you’re going to exhibit – it also gives attendees something to look forward to.

Key goals include:

  • letting people know about new products
  • cluing the media in on your new products and your upcoming appearance
  • alert people to access to your key people: CEO, designers, managers, etc.
  • schedule interview with media and bloggers onsite during the show
  • generate buzz
  • generate new sales leads
  • get your CEO or other lead person on the speaking schedule at the show

Are there any press-only pre-show functions that you, as an exhibitor, can attend? Are there awards programs that you can participate in? Should you hold a press conference at the show? All of these are good questions who’s answers may lead you to new opportunities for exposure. And if there’s anything you want MORE of at a tradeshow, it’s EXPOSURE.

How’s your online press area? Your press kit should have information on the latest products that you want to push, and should be available in many formats: text, audio interviews, video demonstrations if appropriate and photos. The more ways you offer the information, the easier it becomes for the press to use your information.

If you choose to issue a press release, keep in mind that you’re competing with dozens or hundreds of other press releases. To create a compelling press release, the most important thing is to create a compelling headline. Without a ‘hooky’ headline, you’re sunk because no one will read past a boring headline. Your press release – if related specifically to something going on at the tradeshow – should have the various points of contact for people in your booth.

Engage social media. Find out what bloggers might be covering the event. Ask colleagues (or even competitors) who they have seen covering the event in the past. Include links to your Facebook page, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn outlets if available. Create event listings on LinkedIn and Facebook and spread the word through your contacts.

photo credit: roland

Grab our free report: 7 Questions You’ll Never Ask Your Exhibit House

Tradeshow Press Releases Increase Your SEO


A terrific guest post by Brad Shorr on Heidi Thorne’s excellent blog ‘Promo With Purpose Today’ got me to thinking.

In the post, Brad discusses how long-term thinking and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can help to bring more people to your website. And Brad says that press releases are an excellent way to seed your company’s brand throughout the web.

I can’t agree more.

But with apologies to Brad, I’d take it a few more steps.

If you’re planning a press release, come up with a short list of a half dozen keywords that people might be searching for in regards to your tradeshow appearance. Perhaps you’re in the food industry and you want folks to find your products and scheduled appearance.

Your first sentence should contain at least one or two of those keywords and the name of the show. Search engine algorithms tend to look for keywords within the first several words of an article or release. So don’t waste time getting to the point.

In the body of the copy, be sure to include the other keywords that you’ve targeted. Sprinkle them generously – but don’t overdo it. It’s got to be both search-engine friendly and human-friendly (readable!). It may take a little re-working, but you’ll know when it reads right.

At the end, be sure to include all of the pertinent contact information, including links to your company’s website and blog (the link-backs that Brad mentioned).

Press releases have jumped from old media to new media quickly – and the change really took place a few years ago. Press releases can be found by anyone searching for specific keywords – they aren’t limited to reporters and bloggers. And as Brad stated, you may actually get an immediate lead from your release.

Two of my favorite resources to improve your press releases include a book and a website.

Check out David Meerman Scott’s “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and Joan Stewart’s terrific website Publicity Hound. Be sure to subscribe to Joan’s weekly newsletter which is easily one of the best newsletters I open each week.

And while you’re at it, run by David’s blog here.

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photo credit: Bohman

Your Emotions On the Tradeshow Floor

Just like the sales situation of a tradeshow floor is magnified by the intensity and chaos of the situation, so are the emotions of exhibitors and attendees.

If you’ve been to a lot of tradeshows like I have, and you pay attention to how people are (and take a few moments to talk one-on-on with them), you realize that people are holding emotions in. Not all of them, of course. We are human and those emotions come out. But many are buzzed, giddy, exhausted and likely stressed out to the max. Or not.

Constant interaction with people pushes stress higher. Standing on your feet all day makes you tired and exhausted, giving way to heightened emotions.

(click to enlarge)

In 1980 Robert Plutchik created the Wheel of Emotion (at left), showing eight basic emotions and eight advanced emotions each composed of two basic ones.

The basic emotions: Joy, Trust, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Distrust, Anger and Anticipation.

The advanced emotions are Optimism (Anticipation and Joy), Love (Joy and Trust), Submission (Trust and Fear), Awe (Fear and Surprise), Disappointment (Surprise and Sadness), Remorse (Sadness and Disgust), Contempt (Disgust and Anger), and Aggressiveness (Anger and Anticipation).

No matter what emotions you feel while attending or working a tradeshow, it’s easy to get caught up. Have you ever felt yourself feeling heightened instances of Joy, Anger, Anticipation or Sadness?

You feel JOY when you make a big sale. You feel ANGER or DISAPPOINTMENT when you’re told you have to work an extra two hours after having already spent the day on your feet. You may feel REMORSE when you said the wrong thing to a potential client or let slip some inside information to a competitor.

And you could be feeling more AGGRESSIVE than you might normally in the OPTIMISM of heading into a show where you want to knock ’em dead with a great presentation, a great booth and a terrific product backed up by a great marketing effort.

Other researchers have pointed to other emotions such as Doubt, Envy, Frustration, Guilt, Shame; Boredom, Despair, Disappointment, Hurt, Shock, Agitation, Amusement, Delight, Elation, Excitement, Affection, Empathy, Friendliness and Love.

Part of the challenge of attending tradeshows is to know that the intense activity of the tradeshow floor, the after-hours parties, break-out sessions or client meetings is to be expected: mentally prepare for them, and plan on some ‘down time’ in your hotel room before hitting your pillow.

If you’re prepared for the heightened emotions, you’ll be able to take them more in stride.

But of course…you gotta be YOU! And if that means getting carried away by the situation, so be it.

What does a tradeshow do to your emotions? Does it put you on a roller-coaster or do you take it all in and enjoy it for what it is?

graphic copyright Ivan Akira – used under Creative Commons usage guidelines

Podcast: Matthew Selbie Interview

Matt Selbie of Oberon3 in Portland, Oregon is a recent Oregon transplant. The company’s business-enhancement product The Opiniator is less than a year old. After finding my blog, Matt reached out to introduce himself (great networking) and after a conversation or two I thought I should get him on the blog with a podcast. What is the Opiniator? How can you use it in your business? What can you do with it at tradeshows? Matt addresses all of these questions and more…including the origin of that decidedly non-Oregonian accent.

Check out The Opiniator website


How to Find the Right Tradeshow for Your Company

If you’re new to tradeshow marketing, how do you find a tradeshow that’s appropriate for your company? After all, you don’t want to invest a wheelbarrow full of cash and find out that your target market doesn’t come to the show.

Not that you’d do that…but you’d be surprised what decisions are made in the world of business based on hearsay or minimal information.

Best bet is to ask a lot of questions.

Start with your clients. Find out what shows they attend. Then go online and check your competitors. Most businesses these days have an ‘event’ section in their website which usually lists the tradeshows they exhibit at. Also check also with manufacturers and distributors in your industry.

Next, search online. One good resource I have always steered people to is (‘The Ultimate Event Resource). You can search shows by state, country, industry and date. Go to the show’s website and review the information with an eye to determining if this is a show that your target market is likely to attend.

The next thing to ask yourself is: ‘what is my objective for this show?’ Your goal of launching a product may indicate a different show than your goal of creating a great media buzz for your company. Determine your

Topo Wall

Once you’ve compiled a list, target the top 2 – 3 shows and make plans to visit them as an attendee in the coming year. By attending before you invest in exhibiting, you’ll get a good feel for which show(s) make the most sense for you. Besides, attending a show as a guest is a lot cheaper way to find out if it’s the right show than to show up with a booth, your staff and thousands of dollars of product – and wonder why your target market isn’t there.

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photo credit: Incase Designs

The Big Picture vs. The Details

You may have a good grasp about your overall BIG PICTURE tradeshow marketing plan. But what about the DETAILS?

Blurred vision

Overall execution of your plan at the show may be great, but if you slip on details, someone – a potential customer, perhaps – is bound to notice.

Some of the details to track: Is the booth clean and tidy? Are all your marketing materials in synch? Do all the colors match or complement your brand? Are your staffers greeting people with a smile? Do they fill out lead cards with all the information you require? Do the garbage cans get emptied when they start to spill over?

Details are important because they help complete the picture. If the carpet hasn’t been attacked with a carpet-sweeper and there are crumbs or bits of paper or junk, people will notice. If your graphics are peeling at the edges, people will notice. If personal belongings are not stowed out of site, people will notice. They’ll also notice if your staffers are talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking or sitting with their arms crossed.

So cross the T’s and dot the I’s – take care of details and the overall perception of your booth will be more positive.

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photo credit: Stefano Mazzone

Tradeshowguy Blog: A Look Back at ’09

Tradshowguy Blog was launched early in 2009 for several reasons. While it’s been almost a year – but not quite – I thought it might be a good time to turn the spectacles to the past year.

First, I started the blog because I had been itching for an outlet for thoughts, ideas, interviews and other assorted ‘stuff’ on or about the tradeshow industry.

Secondly, I was hoping to do some personal and company branding, for both myself and the company I work for in Salem, Oregon – Interpretive Exhibits.

Third – and more selfishly – I wanted to have some fun with the social media aspects of blogging.

No doubt I accomplished all, to my continuing satisfaction.

What I didn’t expect was that I would meet a ton of great people and start new friendships and relationships with them.

Tradeshowguy Blog has opened up a lot of doors to people and businesses I didn’t know existed.

Take Ken Newman of Magnet Productions. Ken found me through a Twitter search for tradeshow people one night last February. The next morning he sent out a tweet that caught my eye. Flattery! Buttering me up! What the hell?

So I went to his website, found his phone number and rang him up. Ken and I had a great conversation and while getting to know each other found we had much in common. Later in the summer I stopped and had a cup of coffee with him in San Francisco. We’ve struck up a long-distance friendship which will no doubt continue.

Then there’s Steve Farnsworth, also in San Francisco. I found Steve through a Twitter search for PR professionals. Turns out Steve stopped doing PR a couple of years back and now helps IT companies find their way through the Social Media landscape.

Steve helped a lot – he offered to publish one of my articles on his (very well-read) blog; he set up a Twitter chat with me; and he’s been very willing to have a few extended chats to share his thoughts about his Social Media experiences.

From there I can point to many people that I would never have met if not for my interest in hearing from different voices for my blog and podcast: Emilie Barta, tradeshow presenter; Jeffrey Brown of Tradeshow Blues; Karen Silvers, promotional products expert and distributor with Lee Wayne Company; David Schenberg of Busy; David Fugiel of Nimlok; Kenji Haroutunian of Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City; Jay Tokosch of Core-Apps; Mike Morrison of Smart Radio Now; Della Reese of DWA Tradeshow discussing ‘green’ tradeshow graphics; Heidi Thorne of Thorne Communications; and model and event tour organizer Tunisha Hubbard (who turned in the most popular podcast of the year on

There were others, of course. Guest posts included Dennis Salazar of Salazar Packaging, Roger Pike of Communication Steroids, Kevin Ehlers of Event Technologies, Rose Esposito of the Marcomm Group –  and more to come.

Fun videos – some I filmed, some that were done by others but made sense to share on the blog.

I also did a survey towards the end of the year that was intended to give insight into how tradeshow managers and organizers used Social Media in their tradeshow promotions and appearances. Much of that information should find its way into a webinar / teleseminar planned for the first quarter.

All in all, after almost a year of blogging on, I feel like I’m just getting started. Just finding my feet, as it were. Some posts got a lot of attention that surprised me. Some posts I thought would get great readership did not.

If you’ve made it this far – thank you! I appreciate your time and attention – and I don’t take it for granted.

Let’s see what we can get up to on 2010, eh? And, oh by the way – the proper way to say that is ‘Twenty-Ten.’ In case you were wondering.

It Ain’t Your Grandfathers Marketing Strategy

The following is a guest post by Roger Pike, VP of Corporate Training for Communication Steroids, a public speaking/media training company. Roger is a long time public speaker, radio news director, and currently Communications Director for the Marion County (Oregon) Democratic Party.

Public relations professionals, marketers, ad executives and visionary business leaders see it coming.  Every day consumers become more dependent on information they get on-line.  A lot of that information, and soon most of it, comes through social media.  People are asking their friends what they should buy.  And folks are blogging, tweeting, and posting to their Facebook page their reactions to products, and the service they get when they go to buy.  It’s adapt or get left behind, for, in the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “the times, they are a-changing.”

Great challenges lie ahead, though, because, even those who recognize the growing relevance of the interactive internet often approach it’s idiosyncrasies with a traditional mind-set. Unfortunately, the new game will be played by new rules.  It’s time to leave some of our preconceptions behind.  Social media marketing is different, and companies and entrepreneurs must think differently to use social media effectively.  Here are some of my thoughts regarding the brave new social media world.

1)   It’s personal. Traditionally, it’s about brand…and creating the link in peoples minds between that brand and good results.  But in the new interactive world it’s more about relationships. Social media is about reaching out and touching someone, personally.  People won’t pay as much attention to your company logo in your social media effort, they’ll see YOU.  Yes, branding still matters, even in the social media.  But not as much as in the past…and certainly not as much as the personal touch.

2)   Everybody tweets. Social media marketing is different than traditional efforts because EVERYBODY represents your company.  The guy in the back you hired for exceptional accounting skills is just as much part of the company image as that fresh scrubbed young marketing rep you hired for their people skills.  EVERYBODY tweets, or at least, can tweet, so, in a sense, your marketing department just got a whole lot bigger…for better or worse.

3)   Pay Attention at all times. Traditional campaigns did their market research, chose the strategies to reach their demo, designed the campaign, launched…then sat back and waited for the metrics.  Now the response from your clients is ongoing.  You can tweak based on the reaction you get instantly through the social media.  So, LISTEN, really listen.  Don’t just say your going to listen.  Do it.  Really.

4)   Start now, begin anywhere. The old strategy relied on the “tried and true.”  But it’s a brave new world.  You can’t afford to sit on the sidelines on this one.  You’ve got to get into the game.  Big, small, young, or old the social media is the town square of the future.  It’s where people talk, it’s where a huge and growing number get advice.  It’s where they decide.  Conversations about your brand and products are happening all over the web.  You need to go hard or go home.

Learn a new meaning for ROI.  Everyone knows ROI means “return on investment” and the suits make traditional ROI the centerpiece of their decision to refuse a commitment to social media.  Let’s adopt a new definition for the acronym.  Let’s call it “risk of ignorance.”  Ignore the social media at your peril.

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photo credit: Ed Yourdon

What’s your social media ROI?

Are you spending time or money on social media? Are you seeing a return on that investment? My guess is that it’s hard to tell. It could be that you’re not looking at it the right way or doing the right things in your company’s social media world. Some companies get it. Others don’t. The rest of us are flapping our wings in between, trying to get some loft out of this new entity…or…whatever it is.

Whether you’re putting resources into your marketing (tradeshow or otherwise), you should find this short (about 4 minutes) video fun, enlightening and perhaps even a bit intimidating when you consider what some of your competitors are already doing with social media…


Geek Love: Review of Peter Shankman’s “Can We Do That!?”

Peter Shankman

Now that I’m 95% finished with Peter Shankman’s “Can We Do That!?” I can safely tell you it’s one of the most inspirational business-promotion books I’ve ever found.

Peter, if you’re not familiar with him, is the founder of The Geek Factory PR Agency in New York City in the 90s. He’s since sold the business (but kept the naming rights) and runs Help A Reporter, the largest free source repository for journalists anywhere in the world, where anyone can sign up to be a source on any topic and get quoted in major media.

Now, to the book: a brisk read; I’m a little more than a week into it and have just the last chapter.

The most useful part of the book to me was to lift the hood on a handful of major successful promotions Peter and the Geek Factory pulled off, including the great skydiving adventure, the knitting shop promotion and his 30th birthday party in 2002 (among others).

For someone who’s never done those types of promotions from scratch, it’s great to see how they were hatched and ultimately executed.

Yes, this fun-to-read book gave me a ton of ideas, and I’m still making notes to incorporate some of those ideas into current promotions that I have on the drawing board.

A critical section of the book looks closely at how to deal with a PR crisis: what to say (and what NOT to say) to the media, how to keep the company employees in the loops, how to create a list of contact information for the key players in any company (no, it’s not just the company management).

Shankman can we do that

In other words, when you get that 3 am phone call – which I agree with Peter are NEVER good – you know what to do, step-by-step to avoid becoming the latest company to get chewed up by media…who after all, are just following a story.

I’m almost sorry I will finish the book later today. Guess I’ll have to keep it handy for reference. Yup, I give this valuable little book 4 stars. Add it to your library soon:

Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work--And Why Your Company Needs Them

UPDATE August 2017: I’ve had the pleasure to be a member of Peter Shankman’s Master Mind Group “Shankminds” for the past several months. It’s an active group of over a hundred people who either are their own boss, or are working towards that end. Worth checking out.

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