Trade shows such as NeoCon provide manufacturers an excellent opportunity to meet with media members to discuss their new products and innovations. Most savvy exhibitors know that scheduling appointments with the media is an important part of their overall trade show marketing. Yet simply getting the media to meet with you is not enough. Here are three tips to ensure you maximize your media meetings.
1. Bring the Right Person – Contrary to popular opinion, the marketing or PR person for an organization is not always the best person to do media interviews. Media want to speak with experts or those most directly tied to the beat they are covering. Therefore, depending on the media you’re meeting with, you should bring the most appropriate company representative to that meeting. For example, if you’re meeting with a vertical publication that is specifically interested in the product you’re introducing, you should have a product development executive at that interview. This executive would be best to discuss the specifics of that product — why it was developed, its features and benefits, and how it will best serve that vertical market. Although bringing the VP of Sales or the VP of Marketing might be OK for this particular interview, neither would be the most appropriate person in this particular scenario.
2. Provide Context & Tell a Story – Many times the person assigned to meet with the media starts the interview by immediately launching into the new product and discussing its various features and benefits. Unfortunately, this misses a bigger opportunity to talk about “why” the product was developed and the marketplace needs it is addressing. A better approach is to start each interview by providing the context in which the product was developed – and if possible, integrating a story. Doing this serves two purposes: One, it sets the expectations and direction for the reporter about where the interview is going to go. And two, it provides a memorable way for your company and product to stand out with that reporter, who is most likely meeting with dozens of other manufacturers during the trade show. Research shows that stories are much more effective in creating memories than simple lists of information.
3. Ask Questions – Certainly the reporter will be the one asking the questions during the meeting. However, the best interviews are also dialogs or conversations. Once the reporter has asked his questions, your company representative should feel free to ask some questions too. What does he think of the new products and or the approach? Has he seen any comparable products? Is he seeing the same marketplace needs? What might his readers think of the products? And of course, the PR person who is attending (and diligently taking notes) should ask where he thinks this news would be a fit for an upcoming issue.
Media training and message development (i.e. Talking Points) are also important tactics that can further ensure successful interviews. But employing these three tips are simple techniques that can set you apart from the competition while also maximizing your trade show investment.
I welcome your thoughts and comments.