Watch the Trade Show ‘Tude

Thinkstock single image setIn a recent post from blogger Complicated Mama, she talked about a few encounters she had at last week’s Toy Fair. In a surprising turn of events, she was confronted with rude company reps that wanted nothing to do with bloggers. What was even more interesting is that in addition to writing for her own blog, she was also writing for a toy industry trade publication. Oops!

I know from personal experience that trade shows, especially ones as large as Toy Fair, can be incredibly hectic and exhausting. Camera crews, journalists, reporters – there are hundreds of companies all vying for the attention of the media. PR reps go to great lengths to set up appointments beforehand, create attention-getting stunts and more.

Since I work with bloggers on a daily basis and recognize their importance, I guess I was surprised to hear that there are still companies that don’t “get it.”

I mean sure there are those bloggers that are “bad eggs,” but it’s like that with traditional media too. I can remember a number of times a reporter, from a publication that I’ve never even heard of, came to a booth wanting free stuff. These things come with the territory.

Now as more and more bloggers are attending trade shows, I thought I would jot down a few different trade show tips, which your company, or the company you represent, should keep in mind.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Remember that just because a name tag says one thing, it doesn’t mean the journalist and/or blogger isn’t also representing another publication. Keep in mind that these days bloggers contribute to a number of different blogs, web sites, and even television shows.

Talk to the booth staff: At trade shows, booths aren’t staffed with just PR pros – there are manufacturer reps, sales people, CEOs, inventors, etc. Before the show starts, make sure to introduce yourself to everyone at the booth. Let them know that if they see a press badge, to find you immediately. If you need to run off to the restroom or grab some lunch, leave your cell phone number so that they can call you if a member of the media shows up.

Manage media traffic: If you happen to be at a really popular booth, try to staff it with more than one PR person. If that’s impossible, then it’s up to you to juggle the media. So what happens if CNN shows up at the same time as a blogger? What do you do? Bloggers are people too, don’t be scared! Obviously CNN only has a few minutes to get what they need for a segment, so explain the situation to the blogger. Ask if he/she can hang tight for a few, or schedule a time where the blogger can return to the booth for a proper tour. Chances are they will totally understand – just make sure you let them know that you recognize they are important too.

Be professional: Remember that bloggers are  media  and nothing is off the record; so make sure that you, and those in the booth, are on their best behavior. Don’t knock competitors, don’t say anything that might be considered embargoed information and certainly don’t be rude.

Handling the free stuff request:  “So, when can I get a sample?” Instead of ignoring the request or saying that they aren’t “big” enough to receive a sample product, take down their information. Let them know you will reconnect with them after the show. If you honestly have no idea what the sample situation is like, be honest.

Follow up: If you say you are going to follow up with the blogger, follow up. If you are unfamiliar with their blog, make sure to check it out. Then drop them a note after the show, ask if they need any more information on your company, etc. Relationships are so important in the social media world, and trade shows are a great way to make these key connections.

So readers, I’d love to hear any trade show tips and/or experiences that you might have. Are you a blogger that’s been given the cold shoulder? Or, are you a PR pro and have other tips you can share?

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