Back to Basics: Why Briefing Books and Press Kits are Essential for Your Upcoming Trade Shows

Congratulations! You’ve landed interviews with media and analysts at your winter and spring trade shows, where your company is vying for attention along with hundreds or even thousands of other companies. You need to make sure not only that your executives are ready, but that the journalists and analysts themselves are ready to cover your announcements. To borrow a motto from the Boy Scouts, when it comes to trade shows, be prepared.

Prepping Executives

There’s no better way to prepare executives for their upcoming meetings than with a Briefing Book. While the format may have changed over the years, a traditional Briefing Book is still an integral part of show preparation.

What is a Briefing Book? It’s a handbook for executives that walks them through everything they need to know about the upcoming show from a media perspective. A Briefing Book should include as many of the following elements as possible:

  • Name, title and publication
  • Publication URL and journalists or analyst’s social handles (including LinkedIn)
  • A bio of the journalist or analyst, including previous roles
  • Recent coverage, especially if it matches the area in which your announcement falls
  • A photo for easy identification at the show
  • Any background you have on the journalists from previous meetings, such as favorite drinks or snacks, favorite topics, and so on

A Briefing Book also refreshes the executive on the show itself, where meetings are taking place and at what time, what the company is announcing, messages for those announcements, and a list of potential questions that journalists might ask. Although no one can predict all questions, executives should go into meetings prepared with a standard list, as well as answers to those standard questions.

If the Briefing Book is more than one or two journalists or analysts, a table of contents is also a must. Executives are likely going to be scanning this document on a plane, so organization will be critical to getting the information they need quickly. Make sure to have hard copies as well as electronic versions ready for any executive who is handling briefings.

Prepping Media and Analysts

You’ve landed the interviews, but have you prepared media and analysts in a way that will deliver coverage? While coverage is never guaranteed, making sure the media has everything they need to write a story puts you a step ahead in the process. A good start is an old standby, the Press Kit. Today’s versions are electronic, although some companies still also produce print versions for the press room. Rarely do journalists bring reams of paper home with them on the plane, so an electronic version is best.

Ideally, you have pre-briefed a list of media and analysts ahead of the show, because, let’s face it, trade shows can be noisy and crowded. It’s easy for journalists to run behind, cutting into your precious time with them at the show. It’s best to pre-brief as many publications and analyst firms ahead of time and save show meetings for partners and customers. But some journalists only take show meetings, and that’s fine too. Your electronic Press Kits should be ready for your first briefing, regardless of time or location.

What should a Press Kit contain? Everything that makes it easy to write about your company and its announcement. This list includes:

  • A one-page company backgrounder
  • Embargoed press releases on your announcements
  • Key points from the announcements, summarized (it’s a great place to call out exactly what makes the announcement interesting, and you can usually get this information from the pitches you used to land the interview)
  • Data sheets for the products and solutions in your announcements, if applicable
  • Photos for the products and solutions in your announcements, if applicable
  • A high-resolution company logo
  • Headshots of the executive quoted in the press release
  • Analyst references

Make sure the file is zipped and let the interviewer know it’s coming (at least a day in advance) so they are on the lookout.

Your upcoming trade shows are likely to have a wealth of announcements, so it’s important to know where your company’s news falls within the pecking order to set expectations ahead of the show. Depending on the nature of your announcement, it might be best to announce a few weeks ahead of the show or a few weeks after to get the best coverage possible.  The documents above will ensure everyone is well-prepared to generate the best coverage possible.

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