Marketing to the Media

We’re in the run up to one of the major tradeshows of the year. That means things are going a little nuts here at ClickZ HQ. Advertising technology vendors and their PR reps are also going a little crazy, as they scramble to squeeze business — and media coverage — out of the show.

These days, the interactive marketing calendar is littered with more trade shows than you can shake a USB stick at. There are good ways, and very bad ways, to go about getting media coverage out of these things, an issue that comes to the fore about this time every year.

Let’s look at the five top issues (as determined by ClickZ’s dedicated editorial staff):

  • Got news? An embargoed release deserves some serious thought. Vendors and advertisers aren’t the only ones busy at trade shows. The media are crazed, too. Got breaking news you’re planning to announce during the conference? You’d probably do better to break it in advance of the event, under embargo if necessary. The advantages are more mindshare and consideration from the journalists covering the news, affording them more opportunity to ask questions, conduct research, and do follow-up, while they’re under less pressure to get a story filed amid a flurry of other activity.

  • Press cover the entire conference, they don’t just do meetings. A PR vet, exasperated and under preshow client pressure, put it this way in a recent e-mail: You would be doing a great public service if you sent me back a brief paragraph that said “trade shows are the worse [sic] time to try and pitch interviews since reporters get hundreds of such pitches and are there to cover the shows and not see execs who happen to be in the neighborhood.” I would have it crafted into a brass plaque and sent to all clients. To which you might be wondering (as another e-mail this week put it), “Isn’t that one of the inherent purposes of conferences? To reach out and connect with people?” Sure it is. But not all of them. Sheesh. We’re not willing or able to connect with literally hundreds of people or companies over a three-day event. We have to pick and choose — just like you do.
  • We’re open daily! When the phone rings with yet another request for a meeting at the San Francisco show, our editors invariably ask one question first: “Where are you based?” Often, the answer is two blocks away (OK, sometimes 12 or across town). If this is just a meet-and-greet, why fly across the country when we could walk across the street? We’re open to a briefing at our place or yours. We do lunch. Drinks. Sometimes even breakfast. Often, more than one of us will attend such a meeting. If you are local or frequently travel to our neck of the woods, ask yourself what you’re really requesting — engagement, or an opportunity to justify the conference marketing and PR budget?

    There’s something like 250 business days in the average year. We’re looking for news and stories when it’s not conference time, too.

  • Be relevant. Please be relevant. It hurts to say this one, but… It’s amazing how many interactive marketers, the very same ones who wouldn’t dream of running a campaign that wasn’t segmented, targeted, and demographically honed, don’t hesitate to batch ‘n’ blast pitches to the media, then fret about not getting callbacks. PR is marketing, folks. Aren’t marketers and marketing companies supposed to be better at it than the general population?
  • We may be public, but we have privacy concerns. The media list for an upcoming trade show recently leaked. I know, because I have a copy of it. Why is it that “ethical” marketers, who wouldn’t dream of swapping or sharing e-mail or client lists, don’t hesitate to hit “forward” when they get the registered media list from a conference they’re exhibiting at? That’s a privacy violation, folks.

    The result? More of my peers are waiting until the very last minute to register for conferences. They don’t want their inboxes overflowing and their phones ringing off the hook pre-event, nor to be added to every blast PR list out there.

It shouldn’t have to be like this. It’s not like the press is hard to find. We all have Web sites with our contact information on them. ClickZ’s FAQ contains clear instructions for submitting news.

The right message to the right person at the right time. It applies to media relations, too.

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