The Independent Hotel Show does Good PR
In partnership with Custard Communications, we are proud to be launching a new exhibitor PR workshop in the lead up to this year's Show. With a view to providing more support than ever before, we'll make it easy for you to grasp the PR opportunities available to you as an exhibitor. Stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, MD of Custard Communications Petra Clayton offers advice to exhibitors wishing to increase their visibility to our hotelier audience.
What tips can you offer our exhibitors to increase visibility to our hotelier audience?
Now you've got your stand and are booked, you need to develop a robust strategy that will reinforce your plans to your existing clients, but more importantly reach out to new potential clients. So create a plan that will drip feed announcements to your target audience.
Be clear about what you are doing at the show.
Set your objectives, share these with the team and build a plan that will deliver. Think through each objective and allocate a realistic strategy and budget and think through absolutely every angle. When you've done that, make a ‘what else' list of even more ideas and activities and then get started.
Here are a few quick opportunities to be aware of:
- IH16 Press Office. Send your press releases to the press office and keep them coming. If you have news about your product or service or are planning to launch a new product or service at the show, we want to hear about it. The press will be including a preview of the show, so make sure you send information through to the press office at least two months prior to the show. However, if you are launching a new product or service you might want to send your news sooner so we can start thinking of how to support your presence at the show by using your news in some of our early PR story shaping.
- Put yourself forward as a speaker. You've got information and expertise to share and the speaker platforms at the show are great opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and insight. This is not a sales tool however, so you need to be careful how you pitch your ideas and contribution. No one likes to be sold to when they are trying to learn.
- Plenty of photography. Whether it's in the press, on your website or on social media, make the most of great photography and share it. Instagram, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your website are all great channels to embed video footage and photography and get people talking about you and your business as well as what they might expect to see at the show.
- Get on social media. It's there to be used and you need to engage with the show and its audience months before the show. Don't leave it too late. Use the hashtags and handles and get involved in conversations. Respond to tweets and share insight and information especially anything that surrounds your business product or service. Encourage your team to share posts and updates on their own social media accounts and in particular on LinkedIn. Generate conversation about a particular topic in relation to your business and start teasing users about what might be coming at the show on the stand. Encourage data capture before the show through online competitions or social media polls.
- You've probably thought of some great ideas to capture people's interest when they walk the floors but tell them about it before they arrive. Include details on your email signature about how they can find you, what they will be able to see or do when they get to your stand. Don't forget to share information about what is happening at the show each day, for example if there is a speaker session on the business stage that is relevant to your business but you won't be taking part, it doesn't mean you can't share details with your audience. You could be seen as a facilitator helping people to make the most of their time investment at the show and that will build trust and credibility for your business.
If you don't have a huge budget for advertising, what are the options available to get you those coveted column inches?
First of all advertising is definitely in a different category to column inches. If you want to raise and improve credibility for your business then you need to look at editorial. Both in my mind can work very well together and with an integrated plan you can create an impactful presence if you choose the right messages and the best channels. Limited budgets will of course hold you back and you need to make your marketing pound work harder for your business, so I'd start with the basics.
Think about what you are selling. It's an obvious action, but you need to think less about the sales features and more about the benefits of your product or service. Hoteliers will want to immediately understand the benefit of engaging with your business not just the physical attributes of your product or why you think it's the best. Once you have the benefit clear in your mind and how this will impact your target audience you can put some very clever plans together to start building a PR plan that will secure editorial.
The next stage is picking the right channel. If your budget is limited for advertising, think about targeting a niche sector but in a bold way. It's better to do this than scatter gun with a quarter page advert in every trade title. Speak to the magazines that will appeal to your most lucrative clients and work on a plan that will incorporate some advertising, sponsorship and editorial so that you can package up a campaign that will have real punch.
If your budget won't stretch to advertising, then you need to utilise the opportunities already in front of you. Trade publications will launch forward features and provide a cyclical editorial schedule that will help to give you a steer on the types of content they will be looking for at certain times of the year. This means your timing and planning needs to be impeccable. Plan ahead to meet the deadlines of the publications and think about how you can contribute to their content. This will also help to steer when you should decide to place some advertising as well.
High resolution images. I can't stress enough how important it is to accompany editorial and news with great images. Be imaginative and spend money on photography to help position your organisation. Don't use black and white photography, as many publications will reject these. Clear, sharp, creative photography will help secure editorial and can be the difference between editorial being cut at the last minute because the images didn't sell the story.
Make sure you send your news (as long as it is news) to the organiser of the show. We want to know as much as possible about you and your products and services and why hoteliers should engage with you. So share your ideas with us as there will be some meaty preview editorial planned throughout the run up to the show and we can help push content in the direction of the publications.
Form some opinions. Everyone loves to know about what's happening in the industry, how trends are changing, the behaviour of hotels and their customers and the solutions to challenges. Make a list of all the opinions you can share that can be supported with evidence and examples and start identifying opportunities and channels to emote. LinkedIn groups, twitter, blogs and forums are perfect to get you started and get messages heard. Journalists will be scouting through these to get ideas and contacts so make sure you stand out.
Facts and stats. Everyone loves them; so if you have hidden gems such as consumer stats or predictions, then share them with the industry. Journalists love to find insight into certain sectors and if you make your stats even sexier with an infographic, then even better!
Case studies. These serve a few purposes but can really help to secure column inches. If you are working with a hotel or a chain of hotels and your product or service has really proven to benefit the business, then you need to shout about it. Work together on a case study that highlights the aims and objectives as well as the processes and outcomes and create a story. Use this to pitch to journalists for trade titles or create an opportunity to share your story together on stage at the show, and even better, use it as the basis for award entries which will of course lead to some nice editorial if you are shortlisted or even better, if you win!
Burning PR questions? Communicate with Custard