IMTS Exhibitor Workshop Report: Start PR Planning Now
While IMTS 2016 show doors won’t open until September 12, critical PR deadlines appear much earlier. In fact, you need to send releases for pre-show issues no later than June 1, according to Peter Zelinski, editor of Modern Machine Shop Magazine. Zelinski, along with publisher Travis Egan, presented a seminar titled, “Leveraging the Media & Managing Your Advertising Opportunities” to about 400 people during the IMTS Exhibitor Workshop.
Modern Machine Shop is published by Gardner Business Media, the official media partner of IMTS. This magazine is just one of about 30 magazines that have pre-show issues – typically in August, but sometimes in July or September – that extensively showcase IMTS activity. Other Gardner publications relevant to IMTS include Production Machining, MoldMaking Technology, Additive Manufacturing, Gear Production, and Automotive Design and Production. Egan noted that seminar participants can find links to these and dozens of other magazines on the IMTS Key Publications Web page.
Press Release Tips
To write an effective press release for pre-show issues, Zelinski provided the following tips:
- Be concise: 400 words plus one high-quality image.
- Focus on one product: Booth “round-ups” covering multiple products are less effective, as editors will cut apart the release and pick one item (and it might not be the one you deem most important).
- Be technical: Tie features to benefits (“15 percent faster cutting speed”) and applications (“designed for gears”). Avoid quotes and superlatives, as both are likely to be edited out.
- Send multiple releases? Publications typically limit coverage to one release per company per pavilion. So: Sending releases on different lathe models won’t increase exposure, but separate releases on a machine center and a grinding machine might both be considered.
- Remember: Earlier is better. May is not too early to distribute your pre-show release.
While you shouldn’t bombard editors with your entire press kit before the show, DO upload all of your pre-show releases and entire press kit to the IMTS Online Media Center (instructions are in your e-Kit). This is a huge, free opportunity that many exhibitors fail to leverage.
PR at the Show
PR adds value, say Zelinski and Egan, because the trade media are trusted gatekeepers of information. Only news releases and feature content that make it through their “news filter” are deemed worthy.
Another way to leverage the third-party credibility of the media is to coordinate press briefings or one-on-one meetings with editors at the show. In either case, keep meetings or briefings to 30 minutes, and have a subject matter expert on hand. Editors will take notes during the meeting and, after the show, hone in on topics that warrant further coverage. Follow up with editors to discuss their story angle and/or offer additional expert resources.
The Show Daily
After the rest of us leave the show, the editors at Gardner will burn the midnight oil producing the Show Daily. New for 2016, said Egan, it really will be a daily paper, with new issues published Monday through Thursday, plus a final wrap-up issue covering Friday to Sunday.
Content for the Show Daily focuses on at-show activity: demonstrations that go beyond a basic product display, big contests (tip: giving away an iPad is not news), promotions, celebrity appearances, interesting people stories and similar events. For successful Show Daily content, do not submit product press releases. Instead, think small: a professionally taken photo and a one-paragraph caption. Submit content for the Show Daily through the IMTS Online Media Center, and reach out to the Gardner editors directly to pitch story ideas.
In addition to these “free PR” opportunities, IMTS and Gardner offer many “pay-for-play” opportunities, but that’s a topic for the next issue.