By Megan Hebert, Trade Show Coordinator for Foster Marketing

Another one in the books! For me, wrapping up another successful Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) can be compared to that feeling of liberation in school just after completing your last exam of the semester. With this year’s OTC having the highest attendance and largest exhibition since 1982 — 78,150 attendees and 603,000 square feet of exhibit space, there is no doubt the hard work of many people paid off. Yet there is little rest for the weary as the slew of international trade show events is on the horizon.

With 2011 full of large, international events — the aforementioned OTC, along with Offshore Europe, Brasil Offshore, OTC Brasil and Oil & Gas Asia…to name a few — the conscientious exhibitor is always seeking ways to ensure a successful event with measurable benefits. One group of attendees who can considerably boost a company’s ROI (but who are often overlooked) is … journalists.

Recently I stumbled across an article by Lena Valenty of EXHIBITOR Magazine in which she creatively compares exhibiting at a trade show to a blind date (stay with me here). She explains how an exhibitor has mere minutes to make a lasting first impression. An exhibitor has “carefully accessorized with graphics and key messages that accentuates its best features.” We want to appear interesting, but not overeager…confident, but not pompous, she says.

Our potential matches almost always are the most attractive customers and prospects, but Valenty encourages us not to overlook the person who may not appear to be your type on first glance…the journalist. Though perhaps not as glamorous, media representatives have the ability to spread your message in a big way. This group, tasked with delivering news and information on the industry, new products, trends and the key players, is always on the hunt for information to share with readers and viewers. Consider these steps as you aim for Press Success at your next show:

  1. Find your audience: This legwork includes researching media representatives that will be attending the show, determining who the proper contacts are and if your products and services align properly.

  2. Craft your message: How will you entice the journalists…and concisely? Your message should have clear positioning, product differentiation and provide compelling interest.

  3. Book interviews: Be proactive and start booking media appointments several weeks in advance of a show…and ensure the proper executive is available to be interviewed.

  4. Assemble your kit: Press kits are expected.

  5. Get involved: Become involved outside of the exhibit hall. What conference components could you participate in, or what award programs could you enter? These are valuable, exhibit-marketing opportunities.

  6. Train your staff: What role should your exhibit staff play when interacting with the media? Decide what actions they are to take, have a plan in place and share it. If they are to interact with media, there are media-training basics to follow.

  7. Prepare your exhibit: Incorporate into your booth a quiet meeting space, if possible. Offsite meetings are often a welcomed alternative, and utilizing the press room may also be an option for conducting interviews.

  8. Continue the conversation: Follow up with each journalist who visited your booth. Keep the conversation going and show that you are accessible. The long-term goal is to position yourself and your company as an industry expert who can serve as a source for information.

  9. Measure the results: Hard metrics can be obtained through tracking media impressions and the number of original articles, as well as through web analytics. Also, include an overview of all media activity at the show. These reports will prove that your efforts were worth the investment.

Foster Marketing can help navigate the coordination side of your exhibit, and with our proprietary database of energy publications and established relationships, we can guide your quest for Press Success, too. Together, we can navigate through the blind dates to connect with those looking to woo us and share our company’s stories.

Let us help you improve your trade show ROI — whether you are exhibiting at a regional or international show. Email Jamie Efurd or call 281-448-3435 or 337-235-1848 to schedule a meeting with Foster Marketing to discuss how we can help integrate and enhance your marketing efforts.