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Tom Mitchell Articles

Media Management for Trade Show Exhibitors

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Trade fairs are important venues for journalists and exhibitors. Working with the media before, during, and after a trade show is essential for a company’s success.  Targeted and timely press work is key. Therefore, an exhibiting company should inform the trade press about new products to be presented at a trade show, important announcements and applicable interview partners a long time before the start of the event. Press work is an extremely important part of an exhibitor’s presence at an exhibition and the best product is wasted if the press and trade visitors do not hear about it in good time. Often, smaller companies feel that press work only applies to larger companies but successful public relations strategies are vital for companies of all sizes. Every company, regardless of size, should develop its individual PR concept for their trade show participation – from the “traditional” sending/e-mailing of press releases and taking advantage of social media option such as twitter and blogs to placing banner and print ads in the industry specific media outlets.

When it comes to trade fairs, the trade press is the most important media target group for the exhibitors. The specific trade magazines and websites are instruments of market orientation and their readers are the potential users of an exhibitor’s product and visitor to his/her stand.

Before a trade show, a designated media contact within a company should be selected and be on the show site as the liaison for the trade press. Not having qualified personnel for that purpose in the booth or putting editors off can be to an exhibitor’s disadvantage – the press might report about a competitor instead.

The preparation for a trade fair should always include press kits to be given out during a trade show - be it at the booth or in the Press Center. Advertising folders cannot replace these press kits. A journalist is not a customer and does not want to buy the product. Their job is s to report about how this product or service benefits their readers.  The majority of the editors prefer press kits in form of CDs and they should include high resolution photos and logos in addition to press releases. A digital press kit should also be placed on the company’s website.

Messe Düsseldorf has a designated Press Center with all amenities for the trade press, including press kit slots which exhibitors can rent. Since editors usually start and end their day in the Press Center, this is the ideal place to have press kits available.

Organizing a press conference during a trade show provides the opportunity for building and cultivating personal contacts to journalists and communicating a company’s image. On the other hand, journalist are under great time pressure during trade shows and an exhibitor should only hold a press conference if he/she has enough factual content and news to make the event worthwhile for the editors. Location is also an important issue. It is advisable to hold a press conference in a meeting room on show site or at the booth – leaving the fairgrounds is often not an option for the journalist due to time constraints. Offering a snack or light meal is also welcomed by the media representatives.

As part of their service for the international trade press, Messe Düsseldorf puts together a “Press Planner” for each trade fair, listing all press events organized by exhibitors and Messe Düsseldorf which is given out before the trade fair and in the Press Center. In addition to sending their own invitation, exhibitors get added exposure with this planner. Also, companies should not forget to twitter and blog news live from the trade fair to attract media representatives to their booths.

Press relations are continuous public relations and once the trade fair is over, exhibitors should maintain their contact with the trade press and continue to keep them updated with company news. Intensive and effective work with the trade press before, during and after an exhibition can have a lasting and positive influence on a company’s trade fair participation.

As we say in the trade fair industry “After the show is before the show,”


© 2011 by Tom Mitchell