Geile/Leon Marketing Communications

Trade Show PR: Old School Guerilla Tactics Producing Great Results

Industry trade shows—the “coming out” party where manufacturers put on their Sunday Best to show off their latest and greatest—are fantastic opportunities for companies to spend time in the spotlight. And most of them put their efforts into drawing potential customers to their show booth. Nothing wrong with that.

But there’s another group of folks attending these shows that warrant serious consideration by exhibitors: Industry Media—reporters, editors, publishers and bloggers whose influence reaches far beyond the trade show walls. Reaching out to them with something newsworthy can really pay off.

What we’ve learned by attending (and working) dozens of industry trade shows on behalf of clients is that most companies do not have a trade-show media relations strategy.

Which has us wondering, “Why?” All it takes is some groundwork before the show, and some footwork at the venue. The fruits of this labor are easily quantifiable—positive media coverage. If you work at a PR firm and have clients that exhibit at trade shows, they should be made aware of this.

Here’s an example of what we’re talking about. Recently, a G/L client was planning a major announcement at the world’s largest HVAC expo. We knew that media from around the globe would be attending. So we developed a primary strategy that included message development, media kits and a media target list. To ensure we got the attention from the top industry media, we sent invitations and made follow-up calls to invite them to the booth for a visit with the CEO. Targeting the top media netted several interviews.

Our secondary strategy was more of an ‘old-school’ outreach. While at the show, we patrolled the floor of this massive expo looking for folks wearing media badges. We handed them a media kit and invited them to the booth. This guerilla approach resulted in more briefings and more coverage of our news announcement.

Employing a hands-on approach for trade shows helps us find writers and editors who aren’t familiar with our clients. This is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the writer and for you to introduce the writer to your client.

The bottom line is this: Having a great “booth presence” will always be a priority for your client at trade shows, selling that client on the benefits of a strategic “PR presence” should be your priority.

And don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes!


John O’Connor is a PR Account Manager at Geile/Leon. If you want to get the most from your trade show dollars, contact Dan Diveley at 314-727-5850 to arrange a talk with the G/L Public Relations team.