Call Reporters to Schedule Appointments at the Show
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Calling reporters for appointments at trade shows is truly an art form. You have four possible goals:
• Confirm an appointment for the reporter to see a demo of the product or interview executives at the show.
• Try to get reporters who can’t schedule an appointment to agree to stop by your booth at their convenience.
• Ask the reporter to write an article for the show edition of the paper.
• Ask the reporter to set up an appointment to see the product in their office before or after the show.
Getting a confirmed appointment with a reporter at a convention can be difficult. Look at the situation from the reporters’ perspective: They have to cover the entire show and the press conferences. They aren’t sure when the press conferences are being held, because the show office won’t release the final schedule until the show starts. They have a few appointments already scheduled with the biggest companies in the industry, and they aren’t sure where they will be in relation to your booth simply because of logistics.
Some reporters may politely say, “Well, I don’t have my press conference list, and I want to see what else is going on at the show, but I’ll try to stop by.” This is not a put-off. Reporters want to see as much of the show as they can, and walk up and down every aisle. When they see your booth, your company name may click, and they may say, “Aha, I remember something about this product. I want to see what this thing is.” Because of this fact, you can benefit from contacting a reporter for an appointment even if they can’t make one with you.
Begin calling reporters about one month before the event. Your first attempt should always be to try for confirmed appointments with the press to attend demos of your product. By setting confirmed interviews, you can be reasonably assured that the press will attend your demo (or party or press conference). Setting confirmed interviews also helps you schedule executives and technicians who need to be on hand for the demo.
If you’re successful at setting an appointment, keep in mind that the reporter may be late or never show up. This is not a slap in the face. Reporters can honestly get sidetracked when they see something glitzy in someone else’s booth. They can also run behind in their schedules, either because other appointments are running late, or they can’t hail a taxi to your site. Warn your executives and demo personnel that the reporter may be late, so they won’t get uptight; that tenseness will come through in an interview or demo. If the reporter doesn’t show up, don’t be disturbed. Catch them on the follow-up.
If reporters can’t schedule an appointment but say they will stop by the booth, you’ve still won on two levels. First, you’ve educated them about your company and your product. That’s a very important process. Second, if you can’t meet them at the show, you may be able to set a time to meet them in their offices before or after the show to demo the product. Demonstrating the product at the reporter’s office is preferred because the meeting will be free from the interruptions and distractions of a convention.