Seek Out Reporters


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When you go to a trade show, one of the most proactive things you can do to get publicity is to seek out reporters and engage them in a brief discussion about your product. But of the hundreds or thousands of people at trade shows, how can you identify reporters?

Everyone who attends a trade show wears a badge. These badges tell you whether the person is an exhibitor, an attendee, a special guest, a distributor, security, part of show management, or a member of the press. Each category is designated by a different color so you can tell who’s who at a glance. Members of the press generally have a ribbon attached to their badge that says “Press.” What could be easier? Although their name and affiliation may be hard to read, at least you can readily see who to approach.

Keep in mind that some people who wear press badges don’t write a single word. They may be ad sales people, consultants and others who can’t help you get publicity. To maximize your time, you must distinguish between reporters and non-reporters. (You want to avoid going through your whole pitch only to learn that the pleasant, smiling, nodding person is really waiting for you to finish so they can launch into an advertising sales pitch.)

The best preparation is to know the reporters and publications that are key to your marketing plan. You should be so familiar with the publications and the reporters’ names and pictures that you think you know them. If you’ve done your homework (by creating media lists, calling the press, and by reading everything in the magazines) you will know your target reporters. (Review Chapter 4 – Targeting the Media for more information.) Finding and talking with these target reporters should be your priority.

If you choose to approach a member of the press you don’t recognize, you’ll want to qualify the person to see if they can help you. Introduce yourself briefly, and ask the press member what they write about. If they say “new products,” you’re speaking with a reporter and you should proceed to interest them in your product. If they say they’re in “ad sales,” you can make the situation work for you by asking the ad rep if your product category is on the magazine’s editorial calendar. If it is, you can ask for the editor’s name and phone number, and call the editor to pitch your product when you’ve returned from the trade show.