How to enhance your media relations via cocktail party at trade show

Planning a cocktail party to coincide with a trade show is one of the easiest methods for building-up media relations—and best of all, it’s fun!

I’m always surprised to see that just a few companies dare to use this outstanding tool. Only the big players plan and execute cocktail parties. But this media relations-builder does not require unusual skills. The big obstacle is how good your media list is and what are your relationships with the media, especially those key players who can get you the coverage you’re looking for.

4 elements are essential to draw a successful cocktail party at trade show

1.       Location, location, location
2.       Timing
3.       A powerful media list
4.       An irresistible invitation

Cocktail party location

In order to make sure journalists will attend your cocktail party, it is important to make it easy and convenient for them. The best location is your booth at the trade show. Therefore, a good location of the booth is necessary. It is free to get in, available and accessible for all journalists and reporters attending the show. Also desirable are smaller ballroom or conference rooms at the adjacent hotels.

When to schedule the Cocktail party?

The best timing is 1 hour before the show ends, prefer on the first or the second day. For hotel or other off-site locations, 10-30 minutes after the show closes. Any later and you can lose them.

A Good Media List

Your PR agency should send the invitations and follow up with the journalists. But you also should build your own media list, including the entire relevant journalists in your industry.

Irresistible invitation

It’s surprisingly easy to get reporters to accept the right invitation.

Make no mistake, the main reason journalists accept your invitation is because it offers a chance to wind down after a show and “get their party on.” Journalism is a high-stress, demanding and around the clock job. But journalists do it because they love it. Still, they love to be appreciated. Your invitation is a Call-to-Action, so explain what are the benefits of this event, such as: an open bar and tasty appetizers. Selling the sizzle makes your invitation the right one.

You can send the invitation via mail or email to your media list, but make each invitation personal and, absolutely, follow up! Email invitations are easier to follow up.

If you don’t have good media relations yet, use a high-value give-away to attract journalists.

Final Word: Don’t send them home empty handed! Yes, they need to have a press release (on a zip drive is best, and include plenty of attractive, high-res images) but also “souvenirs” are important. Nothing they can’t easily take back on an airplane, but something they’ll never toss.