Six Steps to Success at CES

Time is running out. If you haven’t already created and started to execute your public relations program for the 2014 International CES, then before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, you had better get started.  For smaller, lesser-known companies exhibiting at CES, getting visibility with the thousands of reporters and bloggers can be challenging, but if you have a unique product or compelling story to tell, there are opportunities.

Here are six steps to get you started:

  1. Create a CES PR plan. A key first step should include goals and strategy, several key messages to use in materials and interviews, a list of tactics to execute, and the always-required timeline with deadlines to keep you and your team on schedule.
  1. Target relevant media. In early December, all CES exhibitors will have access to the pre-registered press list. Do not, I repeat, do not send a blast email to everyone on the list. This is a sure-fire way to turn off the media.  Take the time to research those reporters/bloggers who you do not know to determine who writes about the product or service being introduced.  The most frequent complaint I hear from media is that they receive emails and phone calls about products they don’t cover. For instance, if you are introducing an iPhone case, do not send information to a reporter who only covers television.
  2. Make it personal. The media covering CES are receiving hundreds of emails a day and not just about the show. They will ignore emails that look and sound like a sales pitch. Take the extra step to read recent stories and find a way to tie your pitch into something they have covered in the past. Include benefits of your product, not that it is the best ___ever, but how does it help the customer? Do not use the phrase “latest and greatest,”which causes many to hit the delete button.
  3. Stand out from the crowd. With miles of show floor to cover, it is impossible for anyone to get to every booth.  CES Unveiled is an excellent way to get your product seen before the show floor opens.  Several hundred media attend this showcase on Sunday, Jan. 5, and early coverage can help build buzz for you.
  4. Train your spokespeople. Depending on the size of your company, you may have one or several people authorized to speak to the media. Prior to CES, determine who these are and make sure that they can speak to a variety of media — financial, technical and consumer.  Create a Q&A that anticipates as many questions as possible and have the spokespeople conduct practice interviews so they are comfortable answering the questions.
  5. Socialize. Kick off your social-media campaign several weeks prior to CES to start engaging with both media and show attendees. Follow the top reporters you want to reach on Twitter and make your tweets informational and not promotional. Use and monitor #2014CES in your tweets to get your key messages out in front of anyone following the hashtag.