The Pros and Cons of "The Big Shows"

July 12, 2023

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, suffering from holiday withdrawals, you have probably seen or heard something about The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that started in Las Vegas over the weekend. This annual conference and exposition gives companies of all sizes the opportunity to show off their latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos to an international audience of hundreds of thousands. But over the last few years, it has continued to grow, expanding beyond its original "consumer electronics" scope  to include pretty much anyone and everything somewhat related to technology.

CES is a big show for anyone touching technology, especially journalists and PR professionals. And with thousands of journalists, editors and analysts on the show floor, as well as the amount of time, money and energy spent to exhibit, speak and just attend the show, companies and their leadership rightfully want to see healthy returns on their investment.

This is the question that occurs not only around CES but with all major conferences: is it worth attending? And more importantly, is it worth making our big company announcements at the show?

The answer to these two questions, from a PR perspective, varies widely. There are a lot of variables to consider as you make these decisions, especially when there is so much time, money and energy at stake. Here are a couple of things to consider:

  • Announcements/News -- Are you making any announcements at the show? If so, it is important to make sure that they relevant to what is being talked about at the conference. Ask your leadership is these are announcements that need to be made the at show or can they possibly be shared before or after so they don't get drowned out by the hundreds of other announcements being made at the exact same time. If your news needs to be shared during the event, can you pre-brief certain reporters under embargo? Trying to get the attention of reporters while at the show can be extremely challenging.
  • Interviews/Demos -- This is where press relationships really come into play. At bigger industry shows like CES, there are hundreds if not thousands of reporters on the show floor and nearly every single attendee gains access to the press list in advance of the conference. So what happens? Those thousands of companies and their PR teams are scouring the press list and pitching those thousands of reporters, trying to set up meetings. There are only so many hours in the day and several of those hours need to be set aside for journalists to actually write their stories so their time for individual interviews and demos is extremely limited. Getting to the point, sharing the news and making things easier for reporters can go along way!

Again, every company, announcement and conference is different, so it is important for the team to come together and understand what the company's objectives are in advance of committing to a full PR campaign centered around an industry conference. Sometimes it is totally worth the effort, but not every time.

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