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Obstacles & Opportunities: The PR Facts You Need to Know About CES 2022

Making its return to Las Vegas as an in-person (as well as digital) event, CES 2022 will undoubtedly continue to be one of the most competitive trade shows we’ve seen in our nearly 30 years of doing business-to-business public relations This fact about hyper-competition is true for both journalists and exhibitors alike.

It’s important for exhibitors – especially the automotive suppliers and vehicle technology providers we serve – to fully understand the media landscape of this massive event to ensure success, and to set realistic targets and appropriately manage executive level expectations about media attention.

Based on our years of experience supporting clients at CES, we’ve outlined six media relations facts, as well as the obstacles you may face and the opportunities that potentially surround them:

More than 6,500 media attended CES 2020 (the last in-person event)

Obstacle: A large majority of the 6,517 journalists (60% domestic and 40% international) that attended CES 2020 attended to cover the latest in consumer electronic products and gadgets. So, unfortunately for automotive suppliers and mobility technology companies, most of the journalists are just not interested in covering, or are assigned to cover automotive and vehicle technology suppliers.

Opportunity: If your company is an automotive supplier or vehicle technology provider, make sure you have a compelling story with a good consumer angle that fits an industry trend or issue, as well as strong visuals and videos to offer. With these, you may be able to snag some major consumer media coverage, such as national network news, that your top executives would view as a key CES media relations win.

More than 4,400 exhibitors in 2020 attracted reporters from all over the world.

Obstacle: With such a large group of exhibitors, automotive suppliers and mobility technology providers face intense competition for journalists’ attention. How does a reporter cover hundreds of exhibitors in just a few days? It’s logistically impossible. Plus, reporters face distractions from other activities, including speeches, panels and receptions.

Opportunity: The confluence of such a large media audience from around the world and in one place at one time offers the potential for your technology to be experienced by a broader global audience than it might otherwise attract at other shows or individual media events, if you can get their attention.

In addition to the 6,500+ media, CES2020 attracted more than 170,000 industry attendees.

Obstacle: If your company is trying to do interviews or demonstrations with journalists on the show floor amidst the massive number of attendees, the show traffic and noise can easily impact on your results … and most likely not in a positive way.

Opportunity:  CES’ sponsor – the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) – offers a variety of exhibit suites, hospitality suites and meeting rooms for private meetings, conversations and demonstrations. These intimate settings can allow your company to have a home base for uninterrupted media interviews, as well as customer meetings. And this year, the new West Hall adds 1.4 million square feet to the show’s footprint. However, be forewarned, booking private space through CTA is advised, as trying to book space for unsanctioned events offsite can get you banished from future CES events.

There will be 3.9 million square feet of CES exhibit space, but it can go fast.

Obstacle: With the number of vehicle-related exhibitors already up 12% by May, so even with the extra space offered by the new West Hall, it may be possible to be locked out of exhibiting on the show floor. In years past, many late-comers have been unable to secure the exhibit space they want.

Opportunity: If you cannot secure the booth or product demonstration space you seek, there are still ways to leverage media relations at CES. Typically, there are a few major pre-packaged media events that do draw solid media attendance in a Meet & Greet-type format, such as CES Unveiled; Pepcom Digital Experience; and Show Stoppers. Unveiled has been held two days prior to CES, Pepcom has typically runs the night before the show opening and Show Stoppers has been on the first night of CES. These events have been so popular with journalists that many companies who are solely interested in media coverage have chosen to attend one of these events, instead of having a booth. But note that most of the journalists attending these events are more consumer-product-oriented, and these receptions tend to lend themselves to smaller, table-top type product displays, rather than active vehicle technology demonstrations.

CES takes place in the entertainment capital of the world, dazzling Las Vegas.

Obstacle: With the show attracting some 170,000+ visitors, the sheer number of people in Las Vegas during CES causes severe traffic gridlock and logistical confusion for attendees, while the lure of the all-night shows, partying and gambling, can distract, fatigue and waylay even the most industrious journalists.

Opportunity: To work around the distractions, it helps to begin your media pitching process early so that you can  arrange pre-show, embargoed interviews or show previews. This helps to take the fatigue factor out of the mix and allows journalists to develop and hold their stories before they even arrive. Early pitching can also lock down some post-CES interviews, which will allow journalists to provide their full attention and enable you to sidestep the CES chaos.

CES offers hundreds, if not thousands, of potential media relations opportunities.

Obstacle: The official Media Days for pre-show press conferences typically last only a day and a half, so the number of official news conference slots is severely limited, with most of those going to larger exhibitors.

Opportunity: Despite the competition, your company will have up to five days to connect with media at the show – for conversations, demonstrations and more, but only if you target the right reporters, develop a compelling story and pitch as early as one or two months before the show.  The best feeling in the world for a PR person at CES is to have your company’s media interview schedule filled well in advance of the show.

It’s true. CES has definitely become one of the most important events in the world for vehicle technology companies and automotive suppliers. With the right strategy, you can also make it the best media relations opportunity your company has ever experienced.

If you’d like more insight on how to succeed with PR at CES2022, email us at bianchipr@bianchipr.com or call us at +1.248.269.1122.

Author: Jessica Muzik

Jessica is vice president – account service at Bianchi PR with 24 years of PR experience across the corporate, industrial and community perspectives.

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