As the food and beverage PR team here at Konnect prepares for NACS, the last notable food trade show of the year, I figured now is a great time to reflect on best practices and takeaways honed from 2017. Trade shows have become one of my favorite parts of working at a PR agency. It’s a great way to build relationships not only with treasured media contacts but also your client!
On the other hand, trade shows can be incredibly stressful and difficult to coordinate. With that in mind, I’ve put together the below three tips I learned after battling through long days at monstrous shows such as Expo West and Summer Fancy Foods.
Tip 1 – Don’t count on early morning media appointments. When it comes to trade shows, punctuality is a forgotten art. No one is at blame here – there are simply too many people packed into one building. Traffic is a disaster – parking is non-existent, and keeping track of time while sampling exotic cricket rice cookies is the last thing on your guest’s minds. From experience, I’ve learned to allow at least a 90-minute buffer between the start of the show and your first media booth appointment. This allows adequate time for your contact to arrive at the show and find parking and/or registration without having to flat-out cancel your meeting.
Tip 2 – Use your team. Konnect descends in full force at the largest trade show of the year, Expo West. Seeing as it takes place in our headquarter’s backyard (Orange County) we keep all hands on deck to ensure our clients get the most of the show as possible. Last year, the Konnect team began using headsets to speak with each other during the show. Apart from the fact we looked like the Men in Black, we were able to funnel key media contacts from client to client, ensuring that Konnect clients were given as much valuable editor-time as possible.
Tip 3 – Learn your booth from the pros. Merchandising your client at trade shows can be a little intimidating at first. As PR Pros, we are accustomed to writing and dictating beautiful pitches via email and on the phone, but not always in-person. One of the most helpful tips I have learned during my time at Konnect is to not be afraid to ask for an example — in other words, ask your marketing contact how they would show off the booth. Your client will love showing you their personal touches and deliberate call-outs. This is a great way to pick up talking points, fun facts and special features of the booth that you may not have known about, regardless of how many status calls you’ve had leading up to the show.
More than anything, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and eat regularly throughout the day. May we all conquer trade shows wherever they take us!
From New York,