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For years, CES and the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) have been held back-to-back each January, putting strain on automotive and mobility suppliers – and the journalists who cover them – who participate in both shows. Now with the NAIAS moving to June in 2020, there will be more breathing room around CES for companies to better concentrate their news and launches.
But the breathing room ends there. The already-competitive CES could become even more competitive with automotive and mobility companies now fully focused on one large event in January to kick off the year.
The goal of standing out among the thousands of exhibitors and getting face time with key media that everyone is pitching may be getting even tougher.
While there are no guarantees for PR success at CES, after helping our clients at the show over the past several years, we can share some advice to help you maximize your efforts there in 2020.
Here are six steps to consider:
Do Your Homework. CES has a lot … and we mean a LOT … of stuff going on, not just at the convention center but all over town. Hosted media events, networking opportunities, press conferences, demos, speakers and special programs. Knowing the schedule of some of the biggest events can help you plan strategy and timing of your own CES schedule so you don’t get drowned out. 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.
Lay a Solid Media Foundation. Don’t go into CES thinking the media will be interested in covering your company just because you’re announcing some news. Reporters are inundated with pitches, invites and interview offers from every single company participating. Help your future CES self by establishing positive relationships with reporters throughout the year as part of your company’s overall communications plan. If a journalist knows they can count on your company for relatable news and helpful, timely expert commentary and materials, they will be more willing to hear your CES pitch. Keep a steady presence: reach out to media on a consistent basis with news and press releases, trend articles and engagement emails all year long.
Don’t Shallow Dive the Media List. If you are a CES exhibitor, you’ll have access to the list of registered media. As with any media outreach, it’s important to tailor your approach and it’s even more vital to do so at CES. Simply obtaining the list and sending them an invite to your press conference or booth will not cut it – even if the outlets are ones with who you have a good relationship. Set time aside to do a deeper dive and research which trends, products and stories the registered reporters are covering. Which reporter has the right beat that pertains to your specific CES news? Did these reporters attend CES last year? What articles resulted from them covering show? Customize each pitch accordingly.
Prepare for Embargo. Due to the overwhelming demands and time constraints on reporters covering CES, many of them request embargoed information on your company’s CES news and products before the show even starts. If it’s a reporter you trust (another reason to lay a media relations foundation all year long), providing them with quality, customized content ahead of the show with the agreement that the reporter won’t publish it until a designated time, can help you secure more coverage and even further strengthen your reputation with the media. Knowing that you are likely to receive these requests, plan on having some of your CES press materials ready and approved well in advance so you have something to offer: things like press releases, new product descriptions, images, B-roll video, etc.
Flexibility Required. Due to the busy nature of CES, prepare to be as flexible as possible when it comes to media schedules and requests. There will be last-minute changes, rescheduling requests and unforeseen conflicts. Have a back-up plan for everything. Make double, triple sure that your company spokespeople are available and on time for media interviews that have been pre-arranged. Often your executives will get pulled into customer meetings, which are vital, but be sure to block off guaranteed time for the press. You can’t get great press coverage if your experts aren’t accessible when they need to be.
Realistic Expectations Are Your Friend. Participating in CES takes a lot of effort, time, budget and planning. The last thing you want to saddle yourself with is disappointment from some unachievable goal. Know the reality of the show – yes it’s huge, competitive, hectic and people are being pulled in 15 directions at once. If you’re an automotive supplier or mobility tech company, absorb in advance that only a portion of the thousands of journalists attending the show will be interested in your technologies (perhaps only 200-300 out of 6,600). So, 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?
Bonus tip: Of course, if you really want to maximize your CES PR success, work with a PR firm that has been there and can assist you with your planning and outreach tactics.
You might also be interested in:
• 10 Takeaways from CES 2019 for Auto & Mobility Suppliers
• Five Things Auto Supplier & Moibility Tech Providers Need to Do Now for a Successful CES
• How to Maximize Your Exhibit Success at CES