When a trade show approaches, the volume of press releases — without fail — skyrockets the day before the show and crashes back down as the event nears its end. If you charted the numbers on a graph, it would look like a very steep roller coaster.
Although roller coasters can be fun, for the journalists and attendees on the receiving end of these announcements, it feels more like a tidal wave of content washing over them.
So why do most companies wait until the day before or first day of a show to announce their trade show news?
It is most likely because the “first-day-of-show” philosophy is ingrained in exhibitors from ghosts of trade shows past.
Before computers were so integrated in our society, onsite paper press offices were king. There was no better way to get your event news to the media than to write your release, make a ton of copies, and stick it in the press room on the first day of the show.
During the event, the media would swarm into the press room and peruse the releases. After sorting through mounds of them, they would follow up with the companies that interested them and write an article to appear most likely sometime after the show had ended.
However, news is now available 24/7, and journalists can go online and start looking at press releases before a trade show even starts.
Once a journalist finds a story or product unveiling that intrigues them, they can set up meetings and get interviews done on-site during the show. Journalists’ articles can go out same- or next-day, leaving plenty of time for that article to drum up a little more booth traffic before the show ends.
Because of these changes, there’s no longer a clear-cut answer for when you should send your event news.
The following four tips, though, will help you find a time that will ensure your press release skips the long lines and stands out from the crowd.
Determine your press release goal, then base timing around it.
Today’s event announcements have many more purposes than they used to. Determining what you want your news to accomplish will help you decide when to send it.
If you have a new product unveiling, want to drum up booth traffic, or want to generate media interest, sending your press release during the show isn’t the best option because everyone is already bustling around on the trade show floor. Instead, try sending out your release 1-2 weeks before the event. This will give the media and attendees time to add your booth to their agenda.
If you want to send a release about an award you won at the show, then sending during the show or a few days after the event is a better way to go.
Keep travel time in mind.
There are some philosophies out there that suggest a good time to send a release is 2 or 3 days before the show, but this puts your content in danger of getting lost in the travel time blackout.
During the days leading up to the show, most people are hurriedly wrapping up office work, preparing agendas for the event, packing for the trip and traveling to the show. Traveling can be chaotic, so news releases sent during that time can be easily overlooked.
Pro-Tip: Avoid writing a release and submitting it for distribution just before getting on a plane. If anyone has questions or last minute changes, they will be less likely to reach you, which could become a major snag for your release distribution.
Watch out for other big announcements.
If a big company is making a much-anticipated announcement, steer clear of sending your press release in the hours leading up to and after that announcement, especially if your news is in the same industry.
For example, CTIA Super Mobility started on the same day as Apple’s big iPhone 6s announcement. When Super Mobility exhibitors told our Virtual Press Office team that they’d be sending news that day, we advised them to send their news very early in the morning or late afternoon/evening since Apple’s announcement was at 10 am Pacific Time.
Don’t be afraid to send more than one release.
Sending more than one news release can help keep your company top of mind.
Try teasing your audience by sending out 2 or 3 releases with a little more information in each one. This can be a great way to generate pre-show buzz and get people excited about visiting your booth at the show.
Preparing for a trade show can be frantic and with so much going on, it can be easy to hop on the release roller coaster. Keep the above list in mind with your next trade show and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal of attendees “coasting” into your booth.
Want more tips to increase the reach of your news? Download High-Impact PR Planning that Drives ROI and learn how to identify your brand’s best stories and develop an editorial calendar for your press releases.
Caterina Lui is a senior customer content specialist for Virtual Press Office, PR Newswire’s trade show marketing solutions division. VPO helps global event professionals, exhibitors and trade show marketing managers reach their event goals through news distribution and online press kit creation. Follow Caterina at @VPOEventZone, our Twitter channel dedicated to the trade show industry.