Conferences are expensive. There are costs for the booth, flight and hotel room costs, booth design, swag and marketing and more. With this sort of expense, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could really make a go of it and be seen? By the media, no less? For this to happen you need a plan (because you almost always need a plan). And when it comes to planning, well, you’re the tops, so let’s look at at different ways to get this done.
Before the conference, be prepared with a 1 – 2 minute pitch. The pitch should not be sales-y at all; this will totally turn the media off. Instead it should be interesting, relevant and timely. Maybe it’s a fun story about your company, or a pitch about why this conference is the best conference ever or why you love the city the conference is taking place in this year.
You can also take it up a level! Does someone in your company have a tie to the area? Perhaps they plan a visit to their high school campus? Maybe you and your colleagues could plan a team tour of a local monument? How about donating some of your time to a local charity while in town? What will your “story” be? This is definitely worth a brainstorming session with your team!
Next, find out ahead of time who will be covering the conference. Larger conferences will usually have a media list, if not, do your own research to find out who covered the conference the year before. If you have a warm connection to that person, work it! Either way, make sure to do your research and learn about the journalist and their publication, radio or television station ahead of time.
Of course, this pre-planning must also include your “show” at the conference. Is your booth a draw? Is it interactive? Will you be a speaker at the event? Will your company hold a product demonstration? What’s your story? People easily forget products, but they do not forget a good and memorable story – so know it, practice it, make sure your booth staff do the same, then live it at the conference.
About 4 – 5 days out, start the buzz and keep it coming. While talking about the conference and any of your newsworthy plans, make sure to tag journalists on Facebook and mention them on Twitter, but know the line between being obsessive and bothersome and being favorably noticeable. A once a day mention is fine, 7 times may feel stalker-ish and intrusive. Also leading folks to a bit of information, like a quick video about your part in the conference, is a good idea.
This is your Before homework, next week we’ll talk about what you need to do During and After the Conference.
Great post Jill. I am always curious when I ask a fellow hotelier after a conference if it was successful and they say no. It was great for me, why was it bad for them? I guarantee it is because they are not taking the proper steps to “be seen” at the conference. It really shows if you do a little homework before hand and or make attempts to be a part of the community while you are there. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.