Fish Where the Fish Are

Need to Tell Your Client’s Story to the Media?

Catch Them Where Success is a Virtual Guarantee – at an Industry Trade Show

As communication professionals, we all have come to learn that the basic premise of marketing is to deliver the right message through the proper channels to impact a desired target audience.

Or as legendary advertising icon Earle Palmer Brown once told me, “take the right fishing rod in the best boat you can find and ‘fish where the fish are.’”

While this philosophy certainly holds true for both traditional advertising and social media, those same principles also apply to the world of public relations.  Create the ideal message, deploy the most powerful and effective communication channels you can find and then deliver that message succinctly and directly to your target audience.

Only instead of targeting government officials, industry leaders or the general public, when it comes to media relations our target audience consists of editors, reporters, producers, directors, assignment managers, photojournalists, bureau chiefs, desk editors and bloggers.

And when tasked with the mission of introducing a new, innovative, groundbreaking or game-changing product, where can you find the largest singular gathering or collection of such people?  All together and all in one place?

At an industry trade show, of course.


Because for three, four or five days, anywhere from five hundred to five thousand members of the media gather at some of the world’s leading shows, conventions, expositions and meetings with one singular purpose in mind – to cover the news of that particular industry emerging from this one highly-specialized and finely-focused special event.

In other words, these events spawn an army of journalists – large, small and in between – all of whom are looking for stories.

Fish where the fish are … indeed …

Here in Washington, D.C. the public relations firm of Brotman|Winter|Fried Communications has perfected a trade show public relations strategy and they shared with us their thoughts on how to design a campaign that will maximize client exposure at these events, and in the process take full advantage of every benefit such shows have to offer.  The biggest of them all is, of course, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which attracts more than 5,000 members of the media; but other events – such as CTIA Wireless, South-By-Southwest, Toy Fair, the Home+Housewares Show, Infocomm, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Global Real Estate Convention, the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM) Conference & Trade Show, even the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show – all operate under the same principle:  gather the biggest names in their respective field under one roof and then invite, encourage and support the efforts of the media who follow and document that industry.

And while each show offers different opportunities and presents different ways of securing coverage, from a campaign management perspective, the same general philosophy applies to each event.

BWF suggests embracing the following principles when it comes to promoting products at trade shows:

1.     Hopefully you will start with a great product, but even if the product is less than stellar, you need to identify some unique selling propositions.

2.     Learn nuances of each particular show – every show is different.

3.     Compile media lists through various sources including the lists provided by the shows.

4.     Begin the communication phase early.  Send multiple releases over a short period of time.  Remember, you’re competing with thousands of other companies for a journalist’s brief attention span.

5.     Engage in early follow-up efforts, weeks before the show instead of days – and through those follow-ups, build relationships

6.     Take advantage of all free or cost-effective opportunities associated with the show.

7.     Seek out existing media events.  Some shows offer media showcase events to which they invite large numbers of media.  Take advantage of those.

8.     Partner with the show – find features offered by the show and use the ones that are cost-effective and that make sense.

9.     Look for 11th hour opportunities, some of which are offered by organizations outside the scope of the show itself.  Several such opportunities can be extremely cost effective if purchased at the last minute.

10.  Lastly, have a major presence on-site.  Engage in social media activities from your client’s booth, work the show floor and book meetings and interviews.

Follow these rules and you are assured to get produce optimal exposure results from your trade show experience.

-Thanks to Steve Winter (, 703-533-4825) President of Brotman|Winter|Fried, a Sage Communications Company for the incredible information! Is your company ready for tradeshow PR?  Contact BWF!