Outdoor media has an audience. You have an outdoor brand you want to connect with that audience. So how do you get the two together for some media attention?
We asked Nancy Fendler, of Fendler PR, and Alicia MacLeay, of Trailspace, to share their PR and media tips for building relationships with working media (editors, writers, and photographers) who cover the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow.
Know What Media Cover
Nancy: Before reaching out to the media, do some research to make sure that they cover or have interest in what your company has to offer. For instance, a footwear editor would not be at the show covering tents and sleeping bags.
Nancy: Reach out to media to schedule appointments ASAP. Many get booked four to six weeks ahead of the show. In your request for an appointment, share a little bit about your company and what new products you will be offering—no more than a brief paragraph or two if you are emailing. Bullet points are great. Make sure to include your booth number and add your cell number in case they need to text you at the show.
Have Something to Show
Alicia: Have something to show media and be prepared to explain your brand and its products in brief. What makes your brand or product unique and interesting in this 30,000-person show? Give a reason for specific media to stop by and see you in this crowded venue.
Don’t Be Discouraged
Nancy: Don’t be discouraged if an editor cannot make an appointment to meet with you. Their time is so limited given the number of exhibitors. Many times they have a pre-set agenda (governed by their editor or publisher) of brands and topics to cover, which may not include yours. You’ve made the first step in developing a relationship by making contact and can follow up after the show.
Alicia: You know your brand and product, but practice telling your brand story, mission, product info, and such in advance. You may only have a few minutes, so what do you want media to know after they leave? Practicing makes for more informative, targeted conversations later.
Respect Others’ Time
Nancy: It’s courteous to ask how much time an editor has when you meet, and it’s appreciated. If they only have 10 or 15 minutes (which can actually be a long time!) have key messages and highlights prepared.
Alicia: Ask what media are interested in and working on to target your time and theirs. Show relevant highlights. Familiarize yourself with a publication and what it covers before meeting if you have a scheduled appointment. Otherwise, ask at the show.
Alicia: It’s OK not to know the answer to every question at OR. Just make a note and let media know you will follow up later with that info. Then follow up.
Be Prepared to Discuss Other Subjects
Nancy: Oftentimes editors of industry trade publications can pop in unexpectedly to your booth and ask about industry trends, what you think of the tradeshow. You might want to be prepared with a few statements or introduce the journalist to someone who might be a better spokesperson on this subject.
Write It Down
Alicia: Exchange business cards and write stuff down. That way you’ll remember who you met and in what context after the show.
Alicia: Having a clean and visually appealing booth also makes it image-friendly for media, who may take pictures for social media, their website, or publication. I tweet from the show and also post daily photo albums (LINK) with several hundred pictures and am always looking for interesting gear pictures to share.
Know the Photo Policy
Alicia: Though working media are generally allowed to take pictures at OR, exhibitors still get final say. Brands, make photos off-limits to media only if you have a good reason. Otherwise it’s a missed opportunity. Fellow media, be polite and ask first. Brands deserve to know who you are and what you’re doing.
Alicia: Have info for media to take away, such as a USB press kit, link to a press kit, or a highlight sheet, plus your business card. If it’s relevant, I still appreciate having a succinct one-sheet as a reminder to bring home.
Alicia: Know your brand’s social media handles in case you’re asked.
Alicia: After the show, follow up via email to any media you met (that’s where collecting business cards comes in handy) and those you didn’t have time to meet. Include a brief recap of what you presented, answer any questions, and mention any next steps. This is where you build a relationship.
Nancy: Gather interesting facts and industry trends that you absorbed from the show and share them with appropriate media when you follow up. They oftentimes cannot get to these seminars and would appreciate the background information.
Use the OR Media Resources
Alicia: Lastly, OR has a number of resources for exhibiting brands. Use any or all:
- Contact Outdoor Retailer for the pre-registered media list. Use this list to make appointments and to follow up after the show.
- PR/Marketing Toolkit
- Upload exhibitor press releases
- Check out The Dailies. The Pre-Show edition has even more great tips!
- Send editorial pitches for The Daily to email@example.com
- At the show, drop off a hard copy of your press kit at the Press Room (MR113). Yes, it’s more paper, but working media may browse it in between meetings.
Nancy Fendler is the principal of Fendler PR, an ingredient marketing firm with clients such as Pertex, Downlite, and Noble Biomaterials/X-STATIC. Nancy is also the host of Material Wise, a new podcast on material matters.
Alicia MacLeay is the editor and co-founder of Trailspace, which publishes independent outdoor gear reviews by hikers, backpackers, climbers, paddlers, trail runners, and backcountry skiers.