I recently attended my seventeenth GWA (The Association for Garden Communicators) Conference in beautiful Buffalo, NY.
It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been in garden PR for almost 20 years (gasp)! I guess I love what I do, right? It’s always a joy attending this yearly conference, which allows me to reconnect with many of my garden friends that I only get to see once a year. And, of course, making new friends, too!
After working and attending a variety of industry events throughout my career, I want to share a few tips for connecting with the media that will help you be more successful when pitching. After all, this is a great opportunity for face time and relationship building!
Let’s dig in with these quick tips for making media relations magic at your next trade show.
1. Do Your Research
Every trade show has a list of media who will be attending. These lists are a great starting point to see which publications you want to target, but remember to only reach out to people before a show who cover your particular topic. This is where you will have to do your due diligence and research the magazines or blogs you may not be familiar with. After you have your target list, reach out to those contacts to see if he or she is willing to meet you for a cup of coffee or at your booth to chat about your products or services.
2. Get Social
Social media is a great way to connect with media before, during and after a show. Once you have your list of media contacts, start following them on their active social accounts. In addition to Facebook, folks in the gardening industry also share their love of gardening on Instagram. I find Twitter to be another great platform to network and engage the media. During the show share content, photos and video with the media contacts and from your booth. Be sure to use the trade show’s hashtag and tag anyone in your picture to engage others and find new contacts.
3. What Makes You Special
Before you go to the show, ask yourself, what makes your product or service stand-out from your competition? After you determine what exactly that special thing is, create 2-3 key messages or talking points you want people to know about your company, product or service. Don’t worry; these shouldn’t be longer than 1-2 sentences, the ole elevator pitch.
4. Post-Show Plan
What should you do when you return exhausted from a show? Well, your job is just beginning. This is a great opportunity to begin building your relationship with your new contacts! You’ll need to send follow-up emails and personal thank you notes to the folks you met with face-to-face thanking them for their time and to gain any feedback on your products or services. Be sure to tag them on any pre-show posts you do. Remember to keep in touch periodically to see what stories they might be working on and where your products or services could be a good fit.
Now that you’re armed with these tips for engaging media at your next trade show, go and create some media magic of your own!