Conferences and trade shows offer great opportunities for B2B tech companies to gain exposure, build relationships with the media and potential customers, and showcase newly announced products or services. With the growth of trade show and conference planning revenue to $21.7 billion in the past five years, businesses of any size and scope can achieve ROI from conference participation.
Like many things in the modern business landscape, maximizing conference exposure is easier said than done. Aligning business objectives with conference participation can be tricky. And balancing the busy schedules of attending team members with important industry contacts, partners and customers creates additional challenges for businesses.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when constructing a conference outreach strategy. To maximize results, it’s important to look at your tech company's assets, package them creatively and establish an outreach plan that reaches your target audience. To maximize results and align with the increasingly diverse market segments, consider partnering with a B2B PR agency that specializes in cybersecurity or the tech industry. This can help to ensure a tailored media strategy for your company's specific event and industry.
Develop Consistent Messaging
Consistent messaging is essential to the success of your conference campaign. All company and product messaging should map back to current industry trends and the conference’s main themes. Lock in this messaging strategy well before the start of the conference so that it is consistent across all channels and reaches key stakeholders.
An announcement during the conference can also lay the foundation for effective brand and product messaging. By timing a product launch or update, momentum notification or funding announcement to coincide with an event, your company can generate preliminary interest, leading to valuable relationships with media and industry leaders.
Reporters want first and exclusive access to any upcoming, newsworthy announcements. Providing contacts with an embargoed press release along with other media materials ahead of time will ensure your company’s story is consistent across all channels.
Increase Media Attention
However your company chooses to establish its conference messaging, ensure that it reflects the needs of target stakeholders. Conferences typically provide media lists to attendees, so researching reporters who previously covered it and planned to attend will assist with preliminary outreach.
Regular engagement with reporters ahead of time is crucial to building authentic relationships with the media. To increase media attention before the event, develop a pitch to reporters that reflects the established messaging. Hot topics like electric vehicles or AI are easy sells to reporters, but any product or service can generate media buzz with the right strategic positioning and communications. Consider offering reporters a product demo, an exclusive meeting with your CEO or an interview with a customer for a compelling use case.
For a large-scale event with a high media attendance and many product launches, it’s important to create an experience that’s exclusive to the event. Creative booth activations — such as a chance to test a new VR gaming device — will differentiate your company from hundreds of participants. Smaller conferences, like industry trade shows, require a different approach. Companies attending small-scale events will benefit greater from one-on-one interviews with reporters, customers and influencers.
Although the show floor holds all the action, after-hour networking events personalized for your company, such as a reporter breakfast or happy hour, add value outside the booth. Additional events also provide reporters and your company with candid content for social media, further driving coverage. Engaging with reporters on social media by commenting on their posts and reposting their articles about the conference will strengthen already established media connections.
Continue the Conversation
The event’s impact doesn’t end when the convention center closes its doors. Media conversations and industry relationships should be nurtured long after the conference. To keep the momentum going, it is important to follow up with reporters on a steady cadence, share your company's next announcement, and proactively pitch the expertise of your company's thought leaders.
The time immediately following the event should be spent tracking identified key performance indicators. Typical KPIs to measure the success of conference participation include earned media coverage, social sentiment and inclusion on any award lists or event wrap-ups. Tracking the effectiveness of interviews on the ground and how interviews were leveraged is also beneficial.
Social media analytics can paint a complete picture of the event’s success. Metrics built into social media platforms can uncover an additional layer of insight that can be used in media follow-up strategies and owned content development.
For clients new to what can be an overwhelming season of industry events, consider what strategies will place your company in front of target reporters and customers while demonstrating your executives' expertise in the industry. Partnering with a PR agency dedicated to crafting brand-specific messaging and establishing impactful media relationships will enhance your company’s next conference experience.