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Living in Las Vegas means I live and work where there are over 24,000 events, conventions and trade shows (bringing in 6.5 million attendees) annually. Having worked with many companies who attend, display or speak at these events, there’s one thing I always recommend that has helped them generate earned media while on site. It’s not pitching all of the attending media because they’re being pitched by everyone else attending.
The most important thing your company can do is reach out to local media in the city you’re attending. The “trick” is to localize the story for the community that 1) also resonates with conference attendees and 2) it offers your brand credibility opportunities outside of the event.
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Why is “going local” such a strong strategy during an industry-specific event?
- “Local” for your industry event typically means a large audience. The most popular cities that host the most events each year include Orlando, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Las Vegas and more. These are large markets. In addition to the “local” attention, these markets may have national distribution and social sharing of the content may reach a national audience. This means more than just the people who live in the local market will see your news.
- Strategic timing generates leads. Aligning a local media moment during an event means you have some cool content to share in the event’s social timeline and may generate new leads for your business. For example, if you’re a software company, you could do an in-studio local TV news segment that includes an exclusive or local-relevant live demo of your product. This gives you a chance to show off your product to a new audience and insert the segment into the event hashtag conversation. The credibility and quality of the segment can be used for real-time and long-term lead generation.
- Build credibility. If your company doesn’t have regular or ongoing media, this is a great third-party credibility builder that can be used long-term. It may support a future paid ad campaign or be a source of celebration with key stakeholders. When your company is featured in the media, it signals to potential customers or conference participants that you may be more credible than competitors. It may be seen as a “stamp of approval” — the determining factor for a potential customer. Getting event-specific positive media coverage is a great way to celebrate with key stakeholders and build excitement around your brand.
- The “buzz” word. Local media look for stories that will generate buzz, which may be a win/win for your brand and the outlet if you have something interesting or newsworthy. It all comes down to localization. It may be something as simple as having a notable expert on-site, or it can be more in-depth, like showing how your company or product could have a major impact on the community. For example, during the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), I do a consumer tech segment highlighting my personal favorite finds from the show. These are typically things that showcase the “latest and greatest” and may also be things that the Las Vegas community may benefit from knowing.
- It. Saves. Money. Cha-ching. Landing an earned local media placement means you can save money on advertising during the conference. Advertising can be expensive, especially if you’re trying to reach a large audience and earned media is “free,” minus the budget to work with a public relations professional to help craft, pitch and place the opportunity. Bonus? Earned media is often more valuable than paid advertising because it comes from a trusted source and is seen as more credible by consumers.
- Brand awareness. Awareness implies the extent to which a brand is recognized by potential customers and the extent to which it is associated with a particular set of attributes. This is essential to helping your businesses attract new customers, increase sales and build loyalty. If you want to stand out in a crowded conversation during a large conference and 1) aren’t getting interest from prominent media outlets in attendance, or 2) don’t see an opportunity for on-site event coverage, local media is your best bet.
Now that you understand why it is important, it is important to work with a local public relations agency to make it happen.
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Work with a local market public relations agency
It is important to reach out at least 30 to 60 days before your event. You’ll need time to vet and verify the agency, negotiate contract terms and allow them time to package and pitch your stories strategically. Working with a local partner means they already have local media connections, understand the community and increase the chances of your media placement. This team will also help you maximize the earned placement during and after the event to ensure you get as much value as possible. One highly credible local media placement may outshine any trade-specific coverage on-site or maybe the essential “partner” press needed to achieve your event media goals.
How to find the right local agency?
- Do your research. Utilize personal connections, Linkedin and general searches to identify agencies. You can also look at previous event press releases to see if other companies or competitors worked with a local agency. It’s essential to do your research and find one that is a good fit for your business.
- Meet with the agency. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, meet with the agency to discuss your needs and goals. This will help you to determine if they are the right fit for your business.
- Develop your “go local” strategy. Once you’ve decided to work with an agency, be sure to get everything in writing, including the scope of work, the fees, and the deliverables.
- Understand expectations. Be sure to communicate your expectations to the agency from the start. Even if securing a single local media placement is the goal, you may want them to manage the entire event-specific public relations, develop an earned, owned and paid media strategy to leverage secure placements and build additional trade media relationships on your behalf.
This story originally appeared on Entrepreneur