By Robyn Brown

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is fast approaching and if you’re lucky enough to attend 1) mail me tickets and 2) check out my event reminder list below.

Here are just a few tips and tricks I’ve collected from attending conferences over the years that helped me exceed client expectations. I’d love to hear what’s worked for you as well.

  • Bring your camera, and if possible video camera. It’s not always the job of the PR pro to take photos at the event but, it’s a detail you can’t miss. Take photos of your company’s tradeshow booth with key personnel, your spokesperson speaking with a reporter (with the reporter’s permission), your company presenter whether in a demo, breakout session or keynote, and attendees standing in front of your company logo on a backdrop.

With video you can capture short (two minute or less) segments with your spokesperson or even customer speaking about your news and your company’s role at the event. Share photos and video on social media channels like Facebook and YouTube – the sooner the better – and include the event hash tags so attendees can find you.

  • Connect with media on Twitter after an interview. While preparing for the event, be sure to locate the reporter’s Twitter handle. Then, write a quick tweet to the reporter after they’ve met with your spokesperson to thank them for their time. You can even include a URL to your company’s news posted on your website. Example below:

tweet

  • Make full use of your time. You may find a few hours in between interviews, appointments and checking back in at the office. During these moments, feel free to take a swig of water, munch a power bar and take a quick breather. When appropriate, you can also pitch in to help your non-PR colleagues – relieve someone manning the booth and help answer questions from prospective customers, help your company presenter prepare for his upcoming speech, or even re-fill the tchotchkes (small giveaways) on the booth table. These folks may even remember your goodwill when you need something from them later.

I’ve also used my ‘down time’ to learn more about an industry – especially if it’s highly technical or new to me. The first time I attended the Society of Exploration Geophysicists annual conference, I asked a geologist to explain in simple terms how he used my client’s software to display 3D seismic views of deep sub-sea resources – something I had written about but wanted to understand first hand. Not only did I get a good perspective, but I gained a contact that provided a use case and quotes for a future bylined article. David Carriere, a frequent collaborator, also suggests working the tradeshow floor to do a little of your own market research, and observe how your colleagues are handling their own publicity efforts. (From David’s 2008 book, Publicity: 7 Steps to Publicize Just About Anything).

  • Hang out near the press room. While I’m not a media stalker, it does make sense to casually be outside the reporter hangout when you can. You may chance upon a reporter who you were unable to speak with prior to the event. If this happens, strike up a genial conversation, make sure they have your company news and offer the chance to speak directly to your spokesperson. You may score 20 minutes of their time for an interview or, at the very least, you’ve strengthened a relationship with some face-to-face time.

For many of us, participation at trade shows and conferences are spread throughout the year, allowing months in between to prepare for each one. For others though, there may be a three-month window in your industry called tradeshow season where one event comes directly after another. When you represent multiple clients, your calendars can even overlap over multiple seasons. Earlier this year, I attended three conferences over a month and half period for two clients in different industries. Talk about changing gears! It’s also not unheard of to wrap up press release approvals and book interviews for an upcoming event while attending another. Done that one, too!

Seasoned public relations pros are experts at multi-tasking and supporting the strategies for multiple projects and accounts. We can pull together materials for our PR kits, brainstorm messaging 1:1 with an executive, make sure everyone in the press room has seen the client’s news, and ensure that reporters show up for an interview when they’ve promised – all while overseeing the bigger picture of our PR objectives. While there’s always a set of standard PR activities at any conference, take the time to consider how to go the extra step for your company’s media and marketing efforts.