2. Getting Media Attention at Trade Shows

If you want publicity while exhibiting at a trade show, don't do what too many other organizations do. During the show, they wait patiently at their booth until they spot a reporter coming down the aisle. Then, if the reporter stops at its booth, the exhibitor moves in with the same tired pitch used on everybody else who walks by.

If this has been your approach in the past, now is the time to change. Waiting until the show begins is already too late to capture the news media's attention. You should now understand that establishing strong news media relationships weeks or even months in advance can pay off when the show begins.

Begin by finding out which news media will be covering the show. The best way to get that information is from the show's public relations department. Ask them if they can give you the names of print, broadcast, and online media they are targeting. This information is important to know, so that you don't pitch the same story ideas as the show organizers.

If you discover the organizers are pitching an idea that fits well with your organization's objectives, ask if they could include your business as an example in their pitch.

Check the editorial calendars of both the publications that will be covering the show and other publications that might have an interest. (A computer magazine, for example, is a prime target for a large Linux conference.) Many publications will issue a special report before or after the show takes place. The report may be a section within an issue or even an entire special edition. If you cannot glean this information from the calendar, you should call the publication and ask.

The special reports present ripe opportunities for media coverage. Pitch story ideas that may become part of the special report to your media contacts.

Prepare a compelling news release describing the most interesting thing that your organization will be doing at the show. Mention awards, impressive results, or endorsements by Linux experts—anything that will snag the media's attention. Include the line For more information or to arrange an interview, contact: as part of your contact information at the end.

In devising your strategy to get media coverage at the show, always position your organization as part of the solution, not as a mere attendee.