For many in financial services, September means Sibos. And while the plans to attend will often have been in the works since the stands were taken down last year, you can bet there’ll be marketing managers aplenty yet to pull together a watertight PR plan for the event with only weeks to go.
Whether it’s rapidly-developing product cycles throwing off plans, or simply a hangover from a long summer, if you find yourself in this position for this or any conference, do not panic. Here’s our trusty guide…
Do your research
Given there’s not much time to go, this might sound counterintuitive, but it’s still critical to do your homework. This doesn’t have to take days – at a minimum it’s a case of finding out which journalists are going and what their plans are when they’re there. Are they strictly covering news, do they have a feature they are taking the opportunity to do some interviews on, or do they want to use the chance to meet useful spokespeople?
If you don’t already know the names, then of course the first step is to find out what they cover, understand their publication’s audience and even pull together a bio with a photo. You won’t necessarily be able to schedule interviews with all the journalists you want to speak to – especially as the event draws nearer – but if you have a headshot you might be able to locate them at the event itself.
The big announcement
One of the biggest debates when it comes to trade show PR is whether to make an announcement around the event and if so, when.
As a general rule, it is useful to have some news lined up around the show if at all possible. It is a perfect conversation starter for your sales team. And from a media perspective, it’s not uncommon for journalists to have a blanket rule in place that they won’t speak to firms unless they have a news story. They need to know that, if they speak to you, they can get an article written up.
The timing of any such announcement is also a tricky decision. Some thoughts to consider: Announce on Day 1 and you compete with hoards of others doing the same thing. Ok if you’re Accenture or Amazon perhaps, but some smaller companies might be well-served by announcing the news a day or two before. This has the advantage of making it easier to reach journalists too, who will obviously not be at their desks during the event itself. As long as you don’t go too early, the news will still have value during the event itself.
Beyond briefing your spokespeople on the news itself though, it’s worth looking more broadly at the general themes of the event programme. Where do you have an angle on that? It’s important to arm your execs with this thinking so they can contribute to the broader conversations around the show in a considered way.
Let people know you’re coming
It sounds obvious, but in the midst of preparations it can be easy to forget to advertise your attendance. Both through official company social channels, and those of key company attendees, it’s important to let your community know you’ll be at the event, where to find you and what you’ll be talking about. A banner on your home page and a temporary email signature can help to spread the word more widely.
Get people coming to you
At this stage, your stand position will be long-since agreed, the chance to secure speaking slots and side events will typically have gone. But you can still maximise your audience at the event itself by ensuring smart giveaways draw a crowd to your stand.
This is also where your preparation regarding journalists will pay off as you’ll be well-placed to engage with them as they walk past.
Mobilise your community
Another obvious but easy-to-overlook in the heat of the moment tactic is to ensure a steady stream of varied social content throughout each day, including all of the main hashtags for the show to make sure you’ll be seen by the widest possible relevant audience. Make sure to include lots of visual content to help your posts stand out. But avoid a broadcast-only approach. As well as letting people know what you’re up to, don’t be afraid to join in other conversations on key event themes.
It’s not just the sales team that should be busy after a conference winds up. Be sure to cement any new journalist relationships by following up with supporting materials you might have discussed.
It’s also well worth pulling together your own content – a blog post would work well – rounding up your highlights from the show as that will give you another chance to reinforce your key messages and relive your best moments.
The countdown is well and truly on – but there’s still plenty of time to pull off a PR success.
Aspectus is supporting a number of clients at Sibos. If you’d like to discuss how we could support you, please get in touch.