Trade Shows - A PR Manual

I’m aware that a number (some might say all) of my posts from here at the Web 2.0 expo in San Francisco have been a little grumpy. Part of that is my passion for playing devil’s advocate, part is the fact that I haven’t had a decent nights sleep since leaving New Zealand, and part is just the Silicon Valley over-stimulus. This post will sound a little negative – but hopefully it’s one of constructive criticism.

One of the features of this conference is an expo hall where a bunch of vendors hang around giving away badges, pens and t shirts in an effort to get some attention for their brands. It’s a typical trade show – only here they’re wikis instead of widgets and software instead of steak knives. As one of the blog partners for the event I was contact by a number of vendors and PR people to make times to meet vendors and hear their schtick.

I wanted to tell the tale of the best and the worst of these experiences. Both of them happened on the same day.

I was walking the corridors earlier today and someone, seeing my media tag, stopped me and asked what sort of media I was involved in. I explained my speciality and, rather than just carrying on and giving the pitch, the person I was talking to said that his offering probably wasn’t applicable to my sphere of interest, but that he hoped I’d have a nice day. I ended up taking his card – mainly because it’s nice to meet someone who doesn’t just steamroll the pitches – so this is a shout out with kudos to Zia from Sazze.

Now the less auspicious experience. A PR person (who is a lovely lady and with whom I have no beef) asked for times when I would be free to meet a couple of her companies. I studiously left a session early in order to make up midday appointment on the expo floor. – only to arrive and wait for ten minutes while the show staff tried to find the guy. I ended up just walking away – my time is limited here and I really didn’t want to wait in the hope he’d show up.

I’ll not publish the name of the company here – that would be cruel – but as a piece of advice to other trade show exhibitors – make sure that if you’re going to schedule appointments, that you’re all set to make them!