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How not to impress the press at a trade show


Do you feel confident talking to members of the press at trade shows? Avoid these four things that happen more often than you'd think.

If you're manning your booth at a trade show and a member of the press comes along, how should you react?

This was what several attendees wanted to know at NPA MarketPlace 2012 in Las Vegas. I participated on a media panel, along with ladies from Fitness and Martha Stewart's Whole Living magazine, on what members of the press (us!) look for when considering products/stories for our publications.

But rather than tell you our list of do's, I'm going to focus on the don'ts. Unfortunately, I encountered a few of them at the show.

It's not as unfortunate for me as it is for the brands that had an opportunity to stand out and be featured, but instead faded into the background and likely won't be considered for my next article.

So here's how not to impress the press.

  1. Know nothing about your product.
    Now, I'm not going to name names, but I was taken aback at how unprepared some of the booths' staffers were. Simple questions like, "Why does this product contain X ingredient?" or "Why did you decide to launch with X?" were met with "I'm not sure." Even a simple, "I'm not sure, but I'll find out" would have done wonders for my perception of the product and company.
  2. Launch into your sales pitch without asking me who I am. 
    Being abrupt and quick to sell your product loses customers, and it's no different with members of the press. After you realize who I am, you won't waste your time (and mine) telling me information I don't need to know. After all, what you'd tell a retailer (prices, sales discounts) is drastically different from what I want to hear. 
  3. Leave out the most interesting parts of your story.
    Journalists want to know the juicy story behind the company (if you have one). You can impress me more with the back story and your future vision than with sales numbers. This especially goes for consumer magazines, which are looking for ways to connect its readers with your products.
  4. Ramble.
    This is self-explanatory, but time is precious at any trade show. You know those conversations you keep trying to leave, but for some reason can't? Exhibitors: Nail your elevator pitch, let me ask questions and then send me on my way.

Let's get some positivity up in here! Add your best tips for wooing the press in the comments.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

zenfarmer (not verified)
on Jun 18, 2012

On the positive side, it never hurts to smile and have fun! Who wants to talk to a stone soldier?

Suzanne Shelton (not verified)
on Jun 20, 2012

Great suggestions! As someone who has been handling PR for companies in the natural products industry for over 20 years, here are a couple of tips:

- If you don't have an appointment set up with media, keep it brief, grab their attention with the most compelling points, mention what you can provide to them, then get their card. After the show follow up with an email reminding them of the conversation, reiterating your compelling story, and attaching information if it isn't on your web site. They talked to hundreds of people at the show and you can't assume they will necessarily remember how charming you were (you were charming, right?)

- If you have new, seriously newsworthy topics or products, set up appointments in advance with editors, but again, keep it brief and follow up after the show.

-Don't ever have anyone in your booth who can't speak about your products with authority. It's bad enough to make a light-weight impression on editors and writers, but potential customers can just walk down the aisle and find a competing product if your booth staff squanders that opportunity.

- When a member of the press walks by, it's worth having a chat. Not only are they helpful in your telling your story, but most of them are pretty darn great people who are fun to know.

Suzanne Shelton
The Shelton Group PR

DN (not verified)
on Aug 4, 2012

Thanks for the pointers - I will remember them on my first visit to Natural Products Expo in September. As I do tend to get very passionate discussing ekotree products. Especially as behind every ekotree sweater is a 'good news' ecological story : )

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