7 Steps for PR Success at CES 2019
So you thought it over. You know that CES the show is wildly competitive and crowded. You’re aware of the show’s scope and what you’re up against. You are aware it’s going to take a lot of work (and some luck!) to stand out among more than 4,000 exhibitors there. You’ve made your decision: you’re packing your bags for Vegas.
While there’s no guaranteed recipe for media relations success at CES, we can share some steps with you based on our previous work at the show for a few key players in the automotive industry. These steps can help you wow the media of CES 2018
Here are seven steps that can help you and your company maximize media coverage and PR success at CES:
- Study up. CES requires some studying well ahead of time. Do your homework on which media outlets and reporters covered stories that are relevant to your company at last year’s CES. Study the information and opportunities that the show organizers offer to exhibitors and attendees. Talk to people who have worked the show previously and listen to what they have experienced.
- Research the list. If you are an exhibitor, you’ll have access to the list of registered media for the show that is updated daily. Fortunately, your exhibitor dashboard allows you to filter by industry, media type, and more. With this technology and information, you can target the media and tailor your pitches based on different reporter needs easily. This is one of the most time-consuming but important steps in your media relations planning for the show.
- Don’t wait, communicate! Don’t make the mistake of waiting around for CES to do your PR work for you. Reporters covering this show are inundated with pitches, invites, interview offers and sneak peek information from nearly every single company participating in CES. Many reporters don’t even know what their show schedule will be like until they land in Vegas. The most effective way to cut through this clutter is to establish positive relationships with reporters about three to six months ahead of time. Maintain and send press releases, trend articles and key media engagement emails well in advance. Pitch your press conference, if you plan to have one, early as well as pitching one-on-one expert interviews and/or technology demonstrations. This way, reporters will see you as a reliable source before they even step foot in Vegas.
- Embargo effectively. One way to secure media coverage at CES is to reach out to trusted reporters and offer to share your CES news and product information ahead of time under embargo. Because reporters face many time constraints, providing them with quality, customized content ahead of time will be greatly appreciated. Start offering up embargo agreements to target journalists you trust a few weeks in advance and include all that you can: press releases, images, B-roll video, etc. If you wait too long and provide embargoed information too late, you’re not doing the reporter much good. The closer to the show it is, the busier they will get.
- Set Realistic Expectations. After spending big bucks and having your team fly out to Vegas, the last thing you want is disappointment from some unachievable goal. You know going in that the show is highly competitive and that journalists are run into the ground trying to cover it all. If you’re an automotive supplier, only a small fraction of these journalists will be interested in your technologies. Therefore, you must set reasonable goals for CES. Emphasis should be placed on quality rather than quantity. Ask yourself the following questions: What customers and prospects am I trying to reach? Do my top 10 media targets reach this audience? If a reporter could take away any one thing from my presence at CES, what would it be?
- March to Mandalay. While you can try to find media on the show floor, people are dispersed all over this huge show. Many reporters are so busy doing interviews, covering press conferences and writing stories that you might actually never see them walking around the Convention Center. But one thing you can do is keep an eye on the press conference schedule. Held at the Mandalay Bay, CES press conferences can draw anywhere from 100 to 1,000 media, depending on the consumer appeal of the products and announcements. So it can be beneficial to hang outside press conference rooms—especially those hosting other automotive events—to run into media in between sessions and shepherd them toward your event.
- Keep in touch. Don’t let the end of the show be the end of your media relations. Follow-up with reporters, and keep those relationships going. Gather information to see how your competitors did at the show. Debrief the reports to get lessons learned and how you might improve for next year’s event.
Of course, if you really want to maximize your PR success, work with a PR firm that has been there and done that (we know a good one!).
Editor’s note: watch for future posts offering tips and insight on exhibiting and PR/media relations at CES.