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NAIAS – the North American International Auto Show in Detroit – which opens up to some 5,000+ press people and thousands of auto industry insiders next Monday, can be overwhelming to the first-time supplier PR attendee.
Have no fear. Our team of automotive supplier PR professionals, who have worked NAIAS Preview Week for multiple clients over the past 18 years, offer these tips:
1. Plan to arrive early. Construction, detours, traffic jams, full parking lots, snowfall (it invariably snows this week!) and other snafus will likely delay your arrival at Cobo Center. Plan accordingly.
2. Know where the Michelin Media Center is – in Cobo Center’s Grand Riverview Ballroom, close to the show’s main floor. DON’T crash the media’s sanctuary … but do walk-bys to catch up with any reporters you may have missed or to snag an extra interview or two.
3. Map out a plan for your days at the show and stay focused, otherwise you may get mesmerized by all the glitz and activity. Main floor show plan
4. Consider the media’s point of view. They’re slammed and overwhelmed, so anything you can do to make the show a little more comfortable or pleasant will be appreciated.
5. Bring comfortable shoes, eye drops, hand sanitizer, Advil and Airborne, and, most importantly, pace yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
6. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated and keep moving – standing in one spot not only hurts your feet and back, it also hurts your chances of bumping into reporters or other important contacts.
7. Know your messages and pitch points, and take advantage of any opportunities you have to interact with reporters – but don’t be too pushy. Make the conversation about THEM first.
8. Have realistic expectations and know the press conference schedule. Most of the reporters are there to talk with the national newsmakers – that is, the automakers. With more than 40 vehicle introductions and 25 press conferences occurring every 25 minutes, most media just can’t spare the time to talk to suppliers during the first day and a half … even if they want to.
9. Remember that this is an OEM show, so the automakers should be the stars. You don’t want to rain on your OEM customers’ parade, but you can expand upon or add color to their stories.
10. Socialize it! Go beyond your own social media properties. The show’s hashtag is: #NAIAS. Follow official show tweets at @NAIASDetroit. Here’s the show’s Facebook page.
11. Expect the unexpected. Murphy’s Law – Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong – will prevail, so be flexible and ready to switch to Plan B.
12. Keep smiling!