Trade shows are a great way to get out and meet people. They can offer a fantastic opportunity to meet up with existing customers in one place, but they also offer a chance to introduce yourself to new customers. They also attract the key industry media and so offer the possibility of media interviews and therefore improved media relationships.

As with any PR activity, the first thing you must do is to define what you want the outcome of the activity to be – what do you want to achieve with PR? For the purposes of this post, we are assuming that PR is primarily being used to attract prospects to your stand; with a secondary goal of generating media coverage and improving ongoing media relations.

Big Announcement

News will be at the heart of any PR activity and in this instance a big announcement – a product launch or a new customer – is important to announce at the show.

However, if you want to attract prospects who will be defining the stands they want to visit in advance, you need to make a big announcement ahead of the show. To get the best results you should announce some news that will make every possible prospect of yours realise that they have to visit you at the show.

The exact nature of the news will be particular to you, your industry, and the show you are attending. One tactic that works well though is to say something that could be considered slightly controversial. If you think your industry always does something wrong, now is the time to tell them how to do it right. In this way, you will influence all the conversations that happen around the event.

Media Relations

Big news helps to grab the attention of your prospects, but you would still expect your sales team to book specific meetings. The same is true for your PR team. In the weeks before the event, you need to make sure that you have a dedicated team who are contacting your key media to book meetings and interviews at the show.

Ideally, you will have another piece of news that will be announced at the event that your media relations team can pre-pitch and discuss under embargo to generate interest.

Trained Spokespeople

Once you have set the agenda of the show with your controversial news and have booked interviews with the key media, you need to ensure that your best spokespeople are ready and waiting to talk to them.

The first and most important thing is to make sure that they show up for media interviews. We understand that client meetings are important, but spokespeople should be prepared to block out a few hours of their time that cannot be altered. They also need to be ready and prepared to speak to the media, to know the key media messages (and possible pitfalls) and be comfortable to engage.


For trade shows a good media plan can help you to increase your awareness and get more traffic to your stand. But it can also help you to extend media coverage way beyond the show itself and maximise the event for you. And of course, your post-event media follow-up should fit into your wider PR and marketing plan.