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CES 2023: The Top 5 Mistakes Mobility Tech & Automotive Suppliers Need to Avoid

After another pandemic-impacted CES in 2022 that upended plans and turned the show into a half-virtual event, the show is primed for a big in-person comeback in 2023.

Still holding the title as the world’s most influential technology event, the potential opportunities for automotive and mobility technology suppliers to make an impact at CES 2023 could be better than ever, especially considering the pent-up demand for a return to the in-person experience.

But your success at CES relies on planning smart and avoiding pitfalls that could knock you off track.

Being an automotive or mobility tech supplier at CES comes with a list of challenges along with the opportunities. It can be thrilling to be a part of such a huge, impactful show and have the chance to interact with major media outlets and potential customers.

But as the show grows, so does the competition. The pre-pandemic CES 2020 hosted some 4,400 exhibitors and 6,500 media. So, with the addition of a new exhibit hall since then, assuming the pandemic will subside, CES 2023 could be the biggest ever version of this event.

With more vehicle-related companies investing in making a splash at CES, all trying to catch the eye of top journalists covering the industry, it is essential to avoid missteps in your CES planning if you want to maximize your time – and maximize what surely is a considerable investment of resources.

While there is no such thing as promised success at CES, we offer here our top five pitfalls that companies in the automotive and mobility space need to avoid for the best chance for a successful event. We share these tips based on our experiences assisting clients prepare for CES in years past.

1. Not Realizing You’re Already Behind

We hate to tell you this, but chances are you might already be behind in your CES planning. “But we’re already registered! We have a booth booked!” But that’s not all you need to be doing.

Your company needs to be finalizing what big announcements, product launches, unveilings, etc. it will be making at the show … yes, right now. CES is not the place for the type of news you might send out in a typical press release. It’s not like a technology showcase for media that you might host yourself. This is the big stage for game-changing tech and announcements.

Do yourself a favor by laying out plans for your CES announcements, including what the key messaging will be for your spokespeople – not to mention getting approval from management – well in advance.

Waiting until late in the game can harm your prospects significantly, . This is especially the case if you end up with requests from media for advance information prior to the show. You need to be prepared, and the usual last-minute scrambling isn’t fun for anyone.

2. Shooting for the Stars Without a Reality Check

Don’t set yourself up to fail before the show even arrives. Your company is  investing a lot of time, money and resources into being at CES. With that kind of commitment, the last thing you want is to set expectations too high and set unachievable goals.

It’s exciting to think about being featured on a tech segment on CNN or landing feature coverage in The Wall Street Journal, Wired or Automotive News. And maybe you will!

However, the reality is that CES is one of the, if not the most, competitive events out there. You’re not only competing with the big dogs in your own industry but also with all the consumer electronic product announcements, which can often create the loudest buzz.

Journalists who are tasked with covering the show can become burned out quickly … some even before they arrive in Las Vegas.

When plotting your goals for the show, the focus should be placed on quality rather than quantity. You can still aim high and be realistic at the same time. What are your competitive advantages? Will your top experts have enough availability during the show? Sometimes companies get their executives and subject matter experts there on the ground (which can be a task itself), but they don’t consider how many other obligations – such as customer and prosects meetings – they have which can severely limit their availability for media interviews.

You should carve-out times for media accessibility for each key person to maximize your PR results. Think about what customers and prospects you’re hoping to reach the most at CES. Who are your top media targets, and do they reach those potential customers? If a journalist could take away any one thing from your presence at CES, what would it be?

3. Not Hitting the Books

While the sheer size and scope of CES can be intimidating, it can also be to your benefit.

Think about it: there is no shortage of media coverage, experiences and opinions about CES out there. The automotive sector presence at the event has been steadily growing for years and nearly everyone who has attended previously has a story, either of success … or of the opposite! These can all be learning experiences with great takeaways.

Try to network with your peers, with communications professionals and PR agency teams who have logged experience at CES. Also, reach out to media and influencers with whom you already have good relationships. Ask their thoughts about their experiences at the show. What worked for them? What did they hate? What are their tricks to maximize value?

You can also take advantage of the planning resources from CES management itself and reach out early to learn your options as an exhibitor, attendee or sponsor. CES offers a wide variety of options to help boost your presence, and the only way to find out the specifics is to ask.

4. Not Acknowledging the Media’s Struggle

Beyond laying a foundation with media, it’s also vital to acknowledge the reality of CES for the reporters covering the show. Journalists are absolutely bombarded with thousands of pitches, invites, interview offers and “exclusives” from exhibitors and attendees from the industry sectors they cover. So, a key component of your outreach approach should be how to make things easier, more convenient and more productive for the media

While buried in a deluge of pre-show CES pitches, a journalist’s response to you might not be immediate. And they might not be able to commit to visit your booth at a specific time during the show. So, you need to have flexibility and plan accordingly. Make sure your communication materials about what you will be highlighting at CES are in front of the media early.

Any pitching around one-on-one interviews, press conferences, product unveilings and tech demonstrations should be done as early as possible via personalized outreach to your top media targets, in the hopes of getting on their radar ahead of time.

But if that fails, having the ability to be flexible enough to arrange last-minute media interviews and visits at the show and getting reporters quick access to your spokespeople can be a huge benefit.

5. Skimping on Media Prep

Creating your target media list for CES pitching comes with more levels of pre-planning and research than creating lists for other news announcements does. Don’t sit back and rely on your everyday processes!

Identifying top targets in the automotive, mobility and technology sectors is something you’ve most likely already done for your ongoing news throughout the year … but CES requires you to cast a bigger net.

One tip is to monitor coverage and look back on what media and outlets covered vehicle tech news during previous years at CES. Then get a leg-up early by following those journalists and outlets throughout the year, to learn more about their interests and to build relationships with them via other opportunities first.

If a reporter already knows they can count on you for quality, relevant information and knows you deliver, you can become a great resource to them during the hectic schedule of CES. Help each other cut through the clutter.

In summary, if you can avoid making these five mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to CES2023 PR success. And, of course, if you need expert help from PR professionals who have supported automotive and mobility suppliers at CES for years, email us at bianchipr@bianchipr.com.

Author: Leslie Dagg

Leslie is an account supervisor at Bianchi PR with 22 years of B2B PR experience representing clients across multiple industries.

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