In the latest instalment of our expert series we’re discussing how to maximise the value of your investment in an exhibition via PR and social media.
The potential to stimulate demand whilst increasing the profile of your brand should be exploited before, during and after your event. More often than not, these opportunities are packaged in a a number of cost-effective opportunities that when executed correctly, can deliver an exceptional ROI.
If you want to discover the real value of event sponsorship, check out this article
Be aware of the event marketing schedule
Exhibition organisers will have several pre-show publicity initiatives in place to drive awareness of the event to boost stand sales and visitor registrations.
Try and get a direct line of contact with the event marketing team, ask to see their marketing calendar for opportunities to piggy back on their activity and maximise your presence by capitalising on opportunities to include logos on promotional material and adverts, or by keeping readers up-to date with industry-relevant news. On social media, like and share their posts whenever they talk about the event.
Many events will be utilising pre-determined contra agreements that drive brand awareness via editorial, magazine supplements and show features. In some cases, the event may own an affiliate magazine or news website that enables you to keep the audience abreast of what to expect from your presence.
In the case of adopting a strategic PR approach, the most important thing to consider is whether or not you have a news announcement that’s likely to gain traction ahead of your competitors.
Are you for example:
• Launching a new product?
• Unveiling research?
• Is one of your influential spokespeople delivering a keynote address?
• Or attending a panel debate with its main competitors?
If you’re the new market entrant or Start-up, it’s important to consider what key messages you want to convey and whether utilising innovative tactics to disrupt and drive awareness amongst well established brands will help you differentiate.
You may even consider holding a pre or post event briefing in a captivating and scenic location, driving interest from the media and the target industries most influential people. Whatever it is you hope to achieve, think differently. You’re new, so be bold.
Shows often attract key media personalities and influencers addressing your target market.
In PR, relationships are everything, so make sure you reach out to media contacts in advance and ensure that part of this strategy is to pick up the phone and make some calls. With the advocacy of email and social media, calling has become a thing of the past and journalists are hammered with new pitches via email every day.
Using the phone to introduce yourself before sending an email that invites them to a launch event or interview is a sure-fire way to ensure you stand out and they remember you. This is key for long-term engagement.
Another consideration is that this event may be the only opportunity in a year to engage or interact with journalists at a high level, so follow up until you have a yes, a no, and if there’s still no answer, take a strategic position near the coffee machine in the press room. Introduce yourself, be friendly and confident in your approach. My experience is that if they have a spare moment to talk to you, or engage your brand, they often will.
Finally, during the exhibition itself, remember to bring any pre-prepared marketing collateral such as:
• press releases
• new-product information
• case studies or customer references
• And branded marketing gifts that make you stand out from the crowd; small drones, wireless headphones etc…. long gone are the days of a free USB stick!
Sadly for some brands, the announcements they might deem news-worthy just aren’t. Therefore, having a strategic social media presence may provide a better platform for visibility than fighting for journalist’s time – especially when the reality is that they are inundated for requests for meetings prior to the show.
Social media has become one of the most important mediums of communication and it is worth spending time (and money) to decide on the most appropriate way to exploit it. You can even use them as a messaging platform to reach out to journalists if needed!
As with any media campaign, there are decisions to be made between an “organic” effort, in which the message, or content itself is compelling enough to generate interest on its own without supporting investment, and a “paid” campaign, in which you allocate advertising budget for use within the social media platform.
This is analogous to the “PR vs Advertising” dilemma or earned and paid media, in traditional print, so careful consideration must be taken to achieve the optimal mix.
A well thought out social media campaign should encompass methods of targeting, engaging, influencing and converting the audience, ensuring that the content used can influence the different stages of the buying cycle.
Many companies will often overlook “paid” social media campaigns because they are unsure how to maximise the value and instead, opt for an organic-only strategy.
In reality this is counter-productive, and whilst some hashtags, especially those used at events, can help your brand gain traction, social media platforms are actively encouraging their users to adopt “paid-for” campaigns, by using intricate algorithms to reduce the reach of your organic content.
You may already have found that only a small proportion of your followers ever sees or interacts with your content, and that the number of engagements is fast decreasing.
Finally pick your platforms carefully as they provide different benefits to users: Twitter for example, is a great way of targeting followers of your competitors directly; whereas Facebook uses over 1000 data points to identify, profile and build bespoke audiences, which can be extremely effective from a targeting point of view.
As always, content is king but distribution is queen and she makes the decisions. So selecting the right content, platforms and messages for the audience you want to engage is key to maximising both your reach and ROI.
Speak to one of our experienced Project Managers today for a free design and cost consultation on your stand, use the contact form or call us on 01527 510 154.