About this time, most people in the lawn and garden business are gearing up for the IGC Show or FarWest lawn and garden trade shows with one goal in mind: sales.
That certainly is the main reason for a trade show, but with a little garden PR planning, you can extend your “sales calls” with great public relations opportunities.
Think of public relations as your “silent salesman”. When you get mentioned in a lawn and garden industry trade publication, online newsletter or blog, you are building awareness for your company, brand or new product. This helps to build your plant or garden product’s reputation before or after a sales contact has been made.
Like gardening, public relations can help your brand grow faster and stronger. Think of it as tilling the soil before the seeds are planted, nurturing the plants when they go into the ground and tending the garden after the plants have matured. In other words, plan your lawn and garden trade show PR efforts to happen before, during and after the trade show.
1. What do you want to achieve? The first thing you must decide is what do you want to get out of your garden trade show PR? Most companies we at Garden Media work with want to maximize media attention leading up to, during and after the event to get their brand noticed, get people to the booth and, ultimately, increase sales!
Whether you may want to launch a new product, reach key opinion leaders, introduce new sales people, generate new sales leads, gain brand exposure, make sure your whole team is on board and knows the goals. Share your press information with everyone manning the booth and make sure they know the key talking points. If a reporter or blogger stops by your booth and you are not there to engage them, you want to make sure someone else can so you can capture that PR opportunity
2. Plan in Advance. Once you’ve decided what your goal is, write down the 3-4 key talking points about what you want to say. If you could write the headline for the news story, what would it say? It’s best to have one spokesperson who is comfortable talking to the media so decide who they are and let them know what is expected of them. Ask them to be on the lookout for the “press ribbon” on people’s nametags and to proactively seek them out.
3. Press Materials Gets Results. Plan your press materials with critical company information for reporters who have never heard of you. Most lawn and garden trade publications probably know who you are, but they may have new staff members who are new to the industry. Be sure to include company background information, product announcements, high res product photos or images (300 dpi), any video of product demos, product fact sheets, contact information, booth number, social media links, a brief background or boilerplate for your company and your business address, website and phone number.
4. Set up appointments. Here’s where you can be very proactive. Ask for the preregistered media list from the event organizers and reach out to the media in advance to set up appointments at your booth. Do your research and find out who likes to write about new products and who likes to write about big industry issues in which you may have a stake. Send them a press release with a link to your website with more details in advance of the show. This will give them a taste of what you have to offer. Remember trade shows can be overwhelming. You want to make their jobs easier to find the news they can use.
5. Work with the Event Organizer. Trade shows usually offer special promotional or marketing opportunities you can take advantage. Many shows sponsor press-only receptions. Be sure to put media kits in the trade show press room.
6. Engage with Media. To make your PR a huge success, start creating the buzz before the event get on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and your blog. Include links to your social media on all media material and make contact with reporters and bloggers at least eight weeks before the event starts.
7. Press Release Distribution: Post Show. Here’s where many companies drop the ball. After the show is over, issue a success release about how well your new garden product or plant was received. Quote some customers or trade show officials. Make sure that your Online Press Kit is up to date. Be sure to follow up with any media contacts you made at the show and get them the information they asked for promptly. If you miss their deadlines, you are out of luck. And post coverage on your website and social media sites.
And if all of this is overwhelming, download our free eBook on How to Generate More than Sales at a Trade Shows. We have lots more tips on how to take your lawn and garden trade show experience to the next level.