Don’t even try to get media coverage at CES — until you read this blog post

January 8, 2014
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WORK THE ROOM: Using the show’s daily can help you stay on top of where your targets will be and when.

This post was written by Mike Lizun, Senior Vice President

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the country’s largest trade show, boasting 3,200 exhibitors and 150,000 attendees. Needless to say, it’s easy to get lost among the endless aisles of booths, massive crowds, and media that seem to be solely focused on major announcements from the biggest and most influential tech companies in the world.

Yet, each year, smaller companies break through the noise with sparkling PR presences, winning massive exposure. But it’s not easy. It can be mercenary and demand great perspiration and inspiration to win media coverage during International CES.

To achieve high-value coverage for our clients, we approach CES with a well-thought out plan that begins months before the first presenter takes the stage and continues long after the last exhibitor has left the floor. Here’s the playbook we use:

  • Plan well ahead. We begin client CES planning months ahead of time, often in late summer or early fall in order to fully leverage every possible opportunity come showtime. That planning includes before-, during-, and post-show strategies for which products the client should announce, what story themes they should develop, what events they should attend or sponsor, and what story angles will appeal to which media point. Even though it’s a madhouse and news can get missed at CES, it’s still the largest aggregation of technology media under one roof of the year. A well-planned campaign that is thoughtfully integrated with line show introductions is the best way to assure news announced at CES is noticed and covered by the media.
    STEAL THE SHOW: Senior VP Mike Lizun
    helps clients win big at CES by planning months
    in advance.
    • Work the media in early December. CES poses a timing challenge. Falling the first full week of January, it comes directly after the media blackout of the holiday season. That leaves many first-timers flat-footed, trying to reach the media to set up demos and meetings when reporters are away for the holidays, or actually in the air traveling to CES. The solution is to pitch and poke the media in early December, and then use the few open days in early January to confirm meetings and booth appearances.
    • Don’t overlook the necessary evils. Press releases, B-roll, product shots, fact sheets. They sound so old school, and certainly are not to be delivered on paper. But in the rush to cover so much news, media wants information that can be easily referenced. Point them to the CES section of your newsroom, hand them a memory stick, or message them on Twitter, but be sure to have the story fully baked and ready to go, regardless of how you deliver it.
    • Stay in hot pursuit. CES is crawling with media and it’s remarkable how open many of them are to a direct pitch, right there on the trade show floor. Repeatedly, this year, after spying and approaching the media, reporters asked right then and there to be pitched. Strongly delivered, many of them trailed right over to the client’s booth.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: We watched CNET film an episode
of its 404 series on the floor.
  • Invest in ancillary press events. This year, we’ve had tremendous success with clients attending the pre-CES media event, Digital Experience, and the first day’s CES Unveiled. These stripped down, product-focused media events are more intimate and were well-attended by media. Well worth the cost. Be sure to check into these opportunities next year.
PRE-SHOW INTERVIEW: Nick Norton of Apira Science talks to Lance Ulanoff, Editor in Chief, Mashable, at Digital Experience.
  • Follow up, follow up, and follow up. For many exhibitors, CES is equally about scoring publicity at the event, when technology coverage is at its apex, as well as meeting and creating relationships with media for future opportunities. CES offers the rare chance to open a direct conversation with the media, but it’s up to you to keep the dialogue going over the weeks and months to come.
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