How to Hit a PR Homerun at CES

So you’re going to CES. You’re armed with the knowledge that the show is wildly competitive and crowded. You know the scope of the show 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 – all of them pitching the media and vying for attention … as your company will be.

So how do you conquer it?

There’s no guaranteed recipe for success at a show like CES … but based on our work at the show for a few key players in the autonomous vehicle and ADAS space, we can share some steps that can help give you a better chance of knocking it out of the park, or in this case, out of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Here are seven tips that can help you and your company maximize interest and media coverage at this behemoth show:

1. Do your homework – CES requires some studying, well ahead of time. Do research on what media outlets and reporters covered stories that are relevant to your company at last year’s CES. What angles and approaches seemed to be most effective? Study the information and opportunities that the show organizers offer to exhibitors and attendees. Talk to people who have worked the show previously.

2. Get the CES media registration list – If you are an exhibitor, you’ll have access to a list of registered media for the show that is updated daily. Via your exhibitor dashboard, you can filter by industry, type of media, and more. This step is vital to pulling together a targeted list for outreach out of the massive list of registrants – and will help you tailor your pitches and content based on different reporter and media outlet needs. This is one of the most important steps in your media relations planning for the show.

3. Reach out early and often – Waiting for the CES to begin to start engaging the media and sharing information about your company is a big mistake. Reporters covering this show are inundated with pitches, invites, interview offers and sneak peak information from nearly every single company participating in CES – most of which come to them just prior to the busy holiday season too. Many reporters don’t even know what their show schedule will be like until they land in Vegas. In order to break through the clutter, start laying the foundation early. Keep a steady cadence of relevant press releases, trend articles and key media engagement emails going out for three to six months prior to the show. You want your company and your experts to be known as reliable sources well before CES kicks off.

4. 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. Reporters are so slammed covering this show that any help you can give them upfront can benefit you both. Start offering up embargo agreements to target journalists you trust as soon as you can 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, the busier they will get.

5. Set Realistic Expectations – When setting goals for media interaction, number of interviews and level of coverage at CES, do yourself a favor and set targets that are built upon realistic and achievable success. You know going in that the show is highly competitive and that journalists are run into to ground trying to cover it all. There are thousands of journalists and bloggers attending but only a small fraction may be interested in your company or technologies. Ask yourself what your goals are and why. Quality over quantity should come into play here. What media outlets are would be your Top 10? What customers and prospects are you trying to reach, and are they readers/viewers of your Top 10 media targets? Also, tailor your pitch topic for each key reporter. Ask yourself: If a reporter could take away any one thing from your presence at CES, what would it be?

6. Work the Show Smart – At risk of being repetitive, CES is enormous and overwhleming. While you can use the traditional tactic of being on the lookout for media on the show floor or near a media center, people are dispersed all over the place. Many reporters are so busy doing interviews, covering press conferences and writing stories that you might actually never see them inside 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. It can be beneficial to hang outside press conference rooms to run into media in between sessions.

7. Follow-up – Don’t let your media relations work and CES homework fall by the wayside once the show is over. Follow-up with reporters, keep those relationships going. Gather intel to see how your competitors did at the show. Debrief on lessons learned and how you might improve for next year’s event.

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