Making The Most Of Trade Show Media Opportunities

Feb 8, 2024

Heading to ViVE 2024 in Los Angeles or HIMSS24 in Orlando? These key industry trade shows aren’t just a chance to escape the winter weather for warmer destinations! They can present a great opportunity for executives to establish relationships with journalists from a variety of publications and mediums.

Chances are if you’ve landed an interview, it’s for a brief window, so read on for best practices for making the most of your time.

  • Plan Ahead

Most journalists attending trade shows start to populate their calendars weeks, if not months, in advance – which is why many PR pros also start early to secure interviews for key subject matter experts. It’s important for companies to identify which trade shows they will be attending as well as key personnel well ahead of the show. This can be done as part of an annual marketing plan. An added benefit to planning early is that some shows offer early bird registration, so you may even get a deal to attend.

  • Do Your Homework

If you’re offered an interview, make sure you have basic knowledge of the outlet, the topics it covers, and their target audience. You’ll want to frame your responses in a way that’s relevant to readers of the publication.

For example, if the outlet targets members of the C-Suite, big-picture, high-level strategic responses are appropriate. If readers or listeners are clinicians, you’ll want to address clinical or patient benefits of your technology. You can’t tailor your answers if you haven’t researched the outlet. Additionally, reporters appreciate it when you reference past stories they’ve done on the topic at hand. This shows that the relationship is a two-way street and further establishes that you aren’t only interested in talking about your company – and are dialed in on relevant conversations and coverage of key issues in the industry.

  • Arrive Early

The show floors at ViVE and HIMSS are a maze of vendors, sponsors, analysts, media and more. Be sure you keep and use the map you get at check-in. Confirm your meeting location. Is there a designated media meeting area? Will the reporter be stopping by your booth?

Find out and arrive early for the interview. Set an alarm in your phone to remind you of the meeting, just in case you get caught up talking to a client, prospect or colleague. With only a few minutes for each interview, if you’re late, you might miss out depending on the reporter’s schedule. We’ve seen this happen many times. While many journalists will graciously offer to connect another time, the odds of it happening in a timely manner are understandably slim, as journalists are just as busy in the days immediately following a show as they are while they are onsite.

  • Have Something to Say

There’s nothing worse for PR professionals than sitting through a client interview where the interviewee rehashes old news or espouses cliches. If you want to stand out in the crowd, have something to say. Everyone knows that “innovation is key” and “AI is the future.” But how is your company disrupting your space? How does this benefit patients, clinicians and others in the healthcare ecosystem? Where do you see the industry going and how are you helping to get there? What are you doing that’s different than the other guy?

Clearly defining your differentiators (without directly referencing the competition) and outlining talking points ahead of time are key for a successful interview. For extra credit, have a colleague or your PR team do a mock interview in which you can practice steering likely questions to your talking points. And remember, if you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s perfectly acceptable to say you will follow up. Don’t try to answer what you don’t know.

Pro tip: Shows such as ViVE offer the opportunity to share news in a group distribution to media attending the event. This is an extra opportunity for you to get your message in front of journalists who will be there. While you may not get an interview out of it, your news could be included in a roundup during the show or in a post-event wrap-up.

  • Be realistic

Remember that every meeting does not yield immediate coverage. However, we have repeatedly seen “meet and greets” at trade shows turn into follow-up, in-depth interviews or coverage that seems to be out of the blue months later. The main goal of these trade show meetings is to meet key journalists, introduce them to your company and technology, and explain why you are making a difference in the healthcare scene.

  • Give them something to remember you by

Have you done a recent study, survey or analysis? An eye-catching infographic with meaningful information and guidance (URL or QR code) on where to learn more can be something that sets you apart from others. However, don’t give journalists run-of-the-mill marketing collateral. Anything you leave behind should have a news peg and not simply be self-serving information about the company.

  • Be authentic

This may be the most important tip of all. While you shouldn’t be overly casual and should always keep in mind that nothing is ever really “off the record,” you do want to establish a rapport with the reporter. Interviews don’t need to be buttoned up and extremely formal. Use a conversational tone and avoid jargon whenever possible.

Best of luck with all your trade show media opportunities!

For more tips on getting the most from trade shows, check out these tips.