Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ten PR steps to multiply trade show results

By Robert Sheldon, APR
Public Relations Director, Creative Communications Consultants, Inc.
(cross posted from PRSA San Antonio Byline)

If you have a client or employer who exhibits at trade shows, chances are they spend a lot of money on booth space rental, transportation, travel, booth graphics – not to mention labor. Good public relations planning and execution can help multiply the results from this costly effort. Here are ten steps for better results:

1. Build excitement among attendees with pre-show publicity. In the months leading up to the show, announce what must-see new products will be at the show or describe demonstrations or activities at the booth. The objective is to build traffic from potential customers/attendees.

2. Make a list of all the possible magazine or Web editors who follow your client’s/employer’s industry and call them to see if they will be attending. Don’t just do an e-mail blast. If they’re coming, invite them to stop by the booth at a specific time for one-on-one meetings with company representatives or to preview new products. Follow-up by e-mail to confirm the appointments.

3. If the trade show has a tabloid-style “show daily” publication, contact the editor well in advance to place key news releases or even feature stories involving your client/employer. These are well-read by trade show attendees and help to build booth traffic.

4. If the trade show has a conference in addition to the show, encourage your client/employer to be a presenter on his/her area of expertise. You’ll need to start early, however, as presenters are chosen months in advance.

5. If warranted, prepare a press kit with news releases on the new products being introduced at the show and any relevant features. Provide a CD with documents and high-resolution photos in the kit; or list an ftp download site if you have one. When an editor visits, walk through the press kit to highlight your main messages.

6. If the show has a “press room,” be sure to keep it stocked with additional press kits.

7. Schedule a press conference only if you have “earth-shattering news” that is likely to prompt significant interest from the trade media. When in doubt, don’t waste editors’ time.

8. Immediately after the show, send out personalized thank-you notes to every editor who stopped by the booth. Reiterate the main points you wanted them to take away from the show.

9. Send the press kit to all remaining editors on your original call list who didn’t attend the show but follow the industry.

10. If you discussed future articles ideas with editors, follow-up by phone about a week later to see if they still want to pursue them.

Finally, track your publicity efforts with key publications in the following weeks and report the results – because you will get them!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Build-A-Bear, Privacy, and Protecting Children and Your Company

I heard about this on Jumping Monkeys (one of my favorite podcasts, which focuses on raising children in a digital age). They recently interviewed Denise Howell who is one of the few women who writes a blog for ZD Net. She is a lawyer focusing on the “intersection of emerging technologies and law.”

In January, she wrote about her visit to Build-A-Bear store, where children get to design, stuff and accessorize their own bears. Denise’s keen eyes noticed that the company was enticing children to provide personal information on their super-cute in-store computers. Upon publishing her first post about it (“Harvesting data from children with cuddly creatures and cutesy keyboards”), she got quite a reaction which she describes in a follow-up post (“Follow-up: Build-A-Bear says it will take privacy suggestions to heart”). The most interesting is the quick and thoughtful response from the company, which she also shares with permission.

The whole situation raises some compelling points:

1. The response from a company representative to a blog post is an excellent example of using the social media space. As PR folk, we absolutely must be encouraging our clients and organizations to monitor the blogosphere and how to respond to criticism and praise. This is not something to figure out when we get around to it later this year. It’s a now thing. Build-A-Bear gets good points for this one.

2. If you have any part of collecting customer or web site visitor data, make sure you: are following the laws that govern this, have a privacy policy in place and clearly visible, are protect the data securely – extra securely – and are not misleading anyone. Denise provides specific suggestions to Build-A-Bear that you can read in their e-mail exchange.

3. Children are a special population. If your customers are children, then re-read #2 above more carefully.

4. As consumers, we must be more mindful about your own privacy and what data we are sharing. Does that retail store really need to know about your first-born in order to sell you a battery? Heck no!

5. As a parent, teach your children not to type personal information into a computer. Explain what personal information is. After hearing this story, I had a 3-minute talk with my 6-year-old. I told her that when she is on the Internet, not to type her full name, her address, her phone number, or even the name of her school. She asked why. I said, for safety. That was enough for her age. This is how I know: She then said, if the Internet page asks for any of that, I’ll just… “ask your mom or dad first,” I suggested. But she continued, “no, I’ll just click that red X at the top.”

This topic is critical to our organizations and clients legally, ethically and in terms of reputation. It’s also about making sure that in the enthusiasm of some great project that we don’t overlook who it’s all for.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogging Tutorial Available Free Until Feb 29

The web site service,, has for the month of February made available a type of online workshop about blogging. It is comprised of a host of screencasts in bitesize topics (with a focus on These are usually part of their paid annual service, but in February the blogging screencasts are free.

Topics include: blogging basics, selecting a blog hosting solution, creating a blogger blog, authoring your first blog post, formatting and editing, using hyperlinks, posting images, syndicating your blog and team blogging – just to name a few.

Check it this online Blogging Workshop. But hurry, it’s only free for the next two weeks!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tweeting with Twitter is Sweet PR Treat

I finally signed up for Twitter a couple of months ago. I had been avoiding it because so many people said it is addictive. And it is, but not in a bad way.

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service – meaning once you sign up (easily), you can send updates (or "tweets") of up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter web site. You choose people to follow so you can read their tweets, and people follow you to read yours. Over time, you’re part of a community.

If you’re boring, you could just post details of what you are doing, like drinking coffee, getting sleepy, etc.

Or you can be creative.

You can share insights you’ve had and resources you’ve found. You can ask questions and learn from people in your network. The cool thing is that you communicate quickly and you don’t have to be at your computer. You can use Twitter from your cell phone as well.

From an organizational standpoint, there is lots of potential. For example, universities are using Twitter to notify students about emergencies.

Learn more about how you can use Twitter by reading Dan York’s post, “The 10 ways I learned to use Twitter in 2007... (aka Why and How I use Twitter).”

Oh yeah, follow me on Twitter at