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Six CES PR Alternatives for Automotive Technology Suppliers

CES is not the perfect exhibition or media relations venue for everyone. In fact, for many technology and auto suppliers, CES is too crowded, cluttered, and competitive, making it difficult to stand out.

Considering the cost ($500,000 – $1 million for a respectable CES exhibit) and competition (4,300+ CES exhibitors), some automotive and mobility suppliers have decided it is better to invest their brand-building budget elsewhere.

If you are wary that you won’t get the attention you seek at an upcoming CES – or were disappointed by the lack of customer and media attention you received at last year’s CES, you have other – and perhaps more productive – options.

Several other events can offer you a more auto-focused audience, more media interest and more impact … amidst less noise and at less cost.

Based on our 30+ years of auto industry experience, here are a few options to consider:

Exhibit at the North American International Auto Show (the Detroit auto show). There is no other show in North America where you have a chance to see more of the decision-makers, media (5,000+) and influencers in the North American automotive market than NAIAS.

NAIAS and its new mobility add-on Automobili-D continue to expand and evolve their offering of participation opportunities for auto and technology suppliers, and they continue to attract an increasing number of tech companies and talent.

Detroit is still the Motor City, in terms of being the intellectual and decision-making capital of the North American auto industry. Now is a good time to give NAIAS a good look, as it rolls out plans to expand to a bigger, festival-like event as the show timing moves from January to June in 2020.

Participate in the Center for Automotive Research’s (CAR) Management Briefing Seminars (MBS). Another key event many auto suppliers find beneficial for positioning and thought leadership is the annual CAR Management Briefing Seminars held in Traverse City, Michigan in August.

Though exhibit space is limited at MBS, there are a number of other demonstration, sponsorship and speaking opportunities for auto suppliers. The conference attracts an engaged audience of nearly 1,000 top automotive executives from around the globe, as well as the top national, regional, business and trade media that covers the industry. It also offers strong networking potential, with lots of activities that encourage informal relationship building.

Explore more focused niche automotive events. If your company is involved in autonomous and connected vehicle technology, you may want to consider participating in the TU-Automotive Detroit event, which is a WardsAuto affiliate at Informa, and is a much more focused, targeted, manageable and affordable event.

Other Penton conferences organized by WardsAuto that are beneficial for key suppliers, depending upon their product focus, include the one-day WardsAuto Interiors Conference and the WardsAuto User Experience Conference which target very specific, high-quality and engaged audiences.

Consider involvement at the Automotive News World Congress. Another highly visible and well-attended event is the Automotive News World Congress held in January in conjunction with NAIAS.

Some 800 top business leaders representing auto manufacturers, suppliers, analysts, Wall Street and the public sector, as well as many of the top reporters covering the auto industry, attend each year to hear the world-class speakers discuss the future direction of automotive mobility.

Take the technical approach at SAE events. For more technical messaging, another avenue to consider is the series of auto technology-focused events put on by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), such as the SAE WCX (the re-branded World Congress) or SAE’s smaller, more specialized events like the SAE Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Symposium or the SAE From ADAS to Automated Driving Conference.

Go your own way and conduct a stand-alone event. One alternative is to host your own stand-alone customer and/or media event. Here, you can focus on your key customers or target media audience … without the pressure and distraction of competition. The undivided attention and quality time with your target audience can be a refreshing – and effective – change from CES.

One example of stand-alone event is a Technology Week, a week-long series of demonstrations at a test track, giving each top automaker or customer a half-day of its own, and adding on a separate day solely for media.

The challenge of creating standalone events is making them compelling and relevant to your target customers and/or media. If your story for the event is not compelling, your intended audience may not attend.

In the end, for both new technology providers and traditional automotive suppliers, success is all about making a strategic choice … one that effectively gets your message through to the right people, in the right environment, at the right cost.
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If you have questions about what you can realistically expect in terms of media attention at these events, and are looking for objective third-party counsel based on more than 25 years of experience in the automotive supplier space, email us at bianchipr@bianchipr.com or call us at 248.269.1122.

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