Best practices for trade show briefings

One way to gauge the chops of your external PR firm or internal PR peeps is what they do — or don’t do — to prep you for a trade show briefings.

It is important to have clear objectives/goals, because at a trade show you’re running back-to-back meetings in about 20-25 minute chunks.   It is also important to delivery the guy you promised for a briefing — promising the president of the company and briefing with the product line manager smacks of bait-and-switch, even if that wasn’t the intention.

In about 15 to 20 percent of the trade show briefings I’ve been involved with, I have shown up and been asked “So, what do you want to talk about?” This is AFTER a PR person has proactively contacted me to set up a briefing.

*groan*  – BAD PR PERSON! BAD!

The best way to start off a meeting with someone who hasn’t briefed with you before is to outline an agenda consisting of a company profile (i.e. how big is the company, what does it do, why should I care, key customers), then moving onto the substance of the meeting, typically the news/announcements at the show. You don’t want to assume that Joe Reporter knows you; he might want some more detail and the more details you can impress into his head, the more he can recite them in whatever story he writes.

If you’ve briefed with a reporter/analyst before, the format should be the same, with the exception that the company profile should be shorter, but provide the latest impressive numbers (revenue, customer count, etc).

What should you know about the reporter/analyst? 1) What planet, er publication is he from? 2) Some examples of his/her work for quick reference.

PowerPoints can be helpful — and they can also be a pain in the rear.  If you have a 25 minute minute meeting and a 25 slide deck, that’s about 12-13 slides too many, IMHO.  Fat PowerPoint decks are also a pain to download on a poor network connection. Be concise with the key highlights; you can always “deep dive” into a topic later either via email or with a white paper explaining what you are thinking.

Takeaways: In an ideal world, the reporter gets all of the briefing material beforehand under embargo via email.  Or just emailed. Keep emails tight (see Fat PowerPoint above).   Keep paper to a minumium, a stapled set of a couple of releases and the PowerPoint presentation, mayyybe. Folders end up in the trashcan at the end of the day, so why burn your money?

USB memory devices vs CD-ROM? Hate to say it, but gotta go with the USB “stick.”  With netbooks the rage (well, in my head), CDs end up in the trash because I can always go to the website. A USB stick, while a wee bit more expensive branded with your logo, may get carried around and even passed along to someone else, so you get some more brand exposure mileage.


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