Friday Guest Column: Successful Show Floor Meetings
Emily Murphy, C. Blohm & Associates, Inc.
Every year media representatives attend a select number of education trade shows. Companies can capitalize on this opportunity by arranging “show floor meetings” with attendees. These offer company representatives an opportunity to engage in meaningful, one-on-one conversations about their products, company and customer stories with key publishers, editors and reporters.
Successful show floor meetings depend on preparation, implementation and follow-up.
Preparing for the Meeting
Schedule the Meeting. The first step is to develop a media list. Examples include reporters who have written about your company, members of trade media and freelance writers in the industry. Trade shows also provide a list of media representatives who plan to attend. To begin scheduling, send invitations by email two months in advance. As the show approaches, feel free to send follow-ups to those who didn’t respond.
Know the media outlet. Familiarize yourself with the publication, the stories published, and the media representative you’ll be meeting. Take note of the publication’s audience and tailor your conversation accordingly.
Know the reporter. When preparing for a meeting, it’s important to recognize that your goal and the reporter’s are not the same. You want the reporter to write positive things about your company. The reporter is looking for a good story. Your task is to provide “interesting stories about interesting educators/students doing interesting things with interesting products” that include your company.
Know your story angle. It’s your job to make your company and its offerings “newsworthy” to the press. Members of the media don’t want to hear what your products do; they want to hear how your products help educators teach and their students learn.
Research industry trends. Be prepared to cite statistics, recent trends, and respected industry sources that support your talking points and story angle. Knowledge demonstrates that you understand the industry, and your customers’ challenges and needs.
Conducting the Meeting
A floor meeting should a conversation, not a presentation. The goal is for you to build and maintain relationships with the media by providing company and educator stories. When the meeting concludes, the reporter should have a concise overview of your company, its products, and what you offer the industry.
Start with “thank you.” The reporter is taking time out of a tight schedule. Express your appreciation.
Introduce yourself and your company. Although the media may know “who” you are, they may not know “what” you do. Keep your introduction brief, informal and to-the-point - it should sound natural and not rehearsed.
Outline what you would like to discuss. Review what you would like to accomplish in the limited time available. Emphasize the main points the media representative should take away from the meeting.
Describe your story angle. Explain your product and how it helps educators and students. Provide industry statistics that support your points.
Allow for questions. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Tell the reporter what you do know, and follow-up later with additional information.
Follow-Up After the Meeting.
Reporters and editors work on tight deadlines with ever-changing agendas. Follow-up is your responsibility.
Make sure you provide any promised deliverables in a timely manner, before the editor forgets about your story and moves on to something else.
Finally, send your new contact a personalized thank you note.