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5 tips for getting media coverage at EMS trade shows

Trade shows bring together industry reporters from across the nation, and a few simple tricks can help get your company or product noticed

It’s amazing how many companies fail to take full advantage of the media opportunities that trade shows provide.

State and national EMS conferences create an excellent opportunity to meet with key industry reporters. Most of the national industry publications, including EMS World, JEMS and EMS1, send editors, reporters and columnists to large conferences.

Since these reporters are spread out across the nation, this is a great opportunity to arrange a short face-to-face meeting. Even if it doesn’t result in an immediate story, it will make all future story pitches significantly easier.

The same goes for EMS bloggers and social media influencers. There are some really good ones gaining a following in our industry, and many attend the shows.

1. Schedule meetings with reporters
Here’s the catch — reporters typically don’t roam the show floor deciding what booth to stop at to interview the company. Instead, they start scheduling all their appointments 30 to 60 days before the conference even begins.

By the time the show starts, they are completely booked up. At large shows, they often schedule 15 minutes blocks – including bathroom breaks. At the largest shows, they even coordinate times and isles so that they don’t have to constantly walk from one side of the exhibit hall to the other.

2. Meet with bloggers on the show floor
Oddly, some bloggers and social media influencers are the opposite. They want someone to invite them to chat, because it means someone recognizes them. They often wander without a specific schedule or agenda, so they are truly excited and appreciative when you want to meet them.

As a result, you have a much better chance of being mentioned in their blog or tweet, where their network learns about you too.

3. Get media lists before the show
As an exhibitor, you should ask your conference sales rep for the attending media list. You should also ask for last year’s attendee list, since some media formally sign-up late even though they know they are attending. Ask that any bloggers be included in the list as well.

Two months before the conference, send an email to all the attending reporters (including last year’s attendees) with a request to schedule a short demo or conversation at your booth with the company owner.

You’ll likely need to call each reporter several times over a couple weeks to schedule. If a reporter from the previous year’s attendee list says they aren’t attending this year, ask who from their publication will be attending. That said, a lot of reporters attend the same conferences year after year.

You should also ask if there’s a press room at the trade show. The press room usually isn’t publicized or open to the public since it’s a refuge for media only, but you can leave press releases there. You may also be able to schedule a press conference or demo in the press room.

4. Consider a company announcement or product launch
If you have a new product or next version upcoming, you should also consider launching at the trade show. You can put out press releases prior to the event, or even do some paid advertising at the show or send postcards to conference attendees to promote the launch.

This gives you an opportunity to create extra buzz, and gives media an excuse to consider meeting with you at the conference or include you in planned coverage about the show.

5. Use social media
Don’t forget to use social media to promote your booth before and during the event — and always include your booth number so people can find you. You can also, send direct messages to bloggers and social media leaders to ask if they are attending the upcoming show and invite them to meet with you.

Work your booth
Stand in front of the table, not behind it. As people walk by, make eye contact and say hello. Strike up a conversation when possible, but your goal should be to have a lot of short conversations.

As you collect business cards, write an A, B or C on the back once the person walks away. An A is for a hot lead, B for warm, and C is for an unlikely client. For As and Bs, write a reminder of the conversation.

Within 24 to 48 hours, send a personal email thanking them for stopping by your booth. Your C cards can get a generic email and include a request that if they have friends or know of anyone that needs your service, to please refer you.

For As and Bs, send a slightly more personalized email mentioning the discussion you had (the note you left on the card will remind you of the conversation). Ask the As for a follow-up conversation by phone or in person to continue the conversation.

If you’re exhibiting at a trade show, you better get all you can out of it.

Josh Weiss served as the national Director of Public Relations for Rural/Metro Corporation, a leading national provider of private ambulance and fire protection services, and as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for American Traffic Solutions, a national leader in traffic safety cameras. In the past 15 years, Josh has worked with hundreds of external and internal clients including public and private companies in the healthcare and technology industries, government municipalities, police and fire Departments, and community organizations to build positive brands and manage reputations. He now operates 10 to 1 Public Relations.