Social PR: Post ‘N Pray?

Don’t look now, but tradeshow season is here again. Are you ready? If not, no worries! Calysto’s got you covered.

Today, we’re going to be talking about your social media strategy surrounding a show. Specifically, we’ll discuss how you can use social media to get more bang for your tradeshow buck – and also what not to do when it comes to tradeshow-focused social media. First, what not to do…

Social PR:  Post ‘N Pray?

If you’re a fan of the tradeshow editions of PR Vibes™, you may recall a piece we once wrote about press releases, still one of the best tools in a company’s public relations (PR) toolbox. When well-written and strategically delivered to the media, a press release is still an excellent vehicle for generating media coverage.

On the other hand, we cautioned, some marketers take a shotgun approach with press releases (see Spray ‘n Pray). These companies disseminate announcements via major wire services without forethought or direction, and then hope reporters will magically knock on their doors to write stories.

We called this the “Spray ‘N Pray” method, and it rarely works. Why? Because with media relations, reporters want more ― more context, more background information, and more targeted communications ― then a single, randomly distributed press release can provide.

Believe it or not, the same principle applies to social/digital PR, the dynamics of which become really apparent when supporting an important event such as a big tradeshow. To round out their tradeshow marketing efforts, companies will often include social media as a last-minute add-on, and scrape together a few tweets, Facebook wall posts, Flickr photo uploads, Google+ brand page updates, or LinkedIn company profile news flashes from the show floor.

The exhibitor randomly posts a few, untargeted updates here and there during the course of the show, with the hope that someone – ANYONE – important will see a tweet and miraculously take action. Frankly, some companies don’t even do this much, with all the business activity surrounding a major exhibition. In any case, we call this the “Post ‘N Pray” routine, and it usually falls flat.

It makes sense when you think about it. On a “regular” day, journalists are inundated with hundreds of press releases. And journalists are exposed to an even greater volume of social media content at a show. The more social media platforms the reporter is active on, the more content he has to sift through. Much of it is irrelevant, and the content level rises exponentially with the addition and maintenance of each profile.

Like every other working professional, a journalist has a ton of responsibilities and ground to cover. As a result, he may not be logged in to his social media profiles consistently, even if he uses a dashboard or aggregator, to see your company’s posts or tweets in real time. In the midst of this deluge of information, it’s quite likely the reporter may not (possibly never!) see your company’s social media updates without specific, targeted communications. It’s like taking a shot in the dark, and hoping you’ll hit the target.

Same thing with the potential customers/attendees you are trying to reach at a show. On a “regular” day, business professionals are inundated with more information and communications than they can possibly digest and respond to. And at a show, their time is spent attending meetings and navigating the show floor – which leaves few precious minutes to even check email – let alone LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Like traditional PR, a successful social PR campaign begins with a definitive strategy, clear objectives, deep knowledge of the company’s target audiences and how they like to receive information, and a collection of carefully designed tactical programs. This is particularly critical for an effective social media presence during an important event, especially when it comes to securing media and analyst briefings, generating media coverage, landing customer and partner meetings, increasing brand awareness, elevating industry visibility, and driving booth traffic. Social media outreach is critical for achieving these goals, and oftentimes, they cannot be attained without it.

Here at Calysto Communications, we never take a “Post ‘N Pray” approach to social PR. Of course, we use as many of a client’s social media platforms as possible, and we carefully develop and disseminate compelling content that resonates with that client’s stakeholders. However, we take all of this several steps further by communicating, via major social media mechanisms, directly with influencers, especially media and analysts who are interested in your company and its value proposition, messaging, technologies, and announcements. Above all, we make sure strategic social media elements are fully integrated, both online and offline, into a company’s tradeshow marketing initiatives, and then optimized and leveraged for maximum results.

Here are just a few examples of how Calysto team members have helped clients use social media effectively at tradeshows.

  • Do a pre-show teaser campaign, where you begin posting and/or tweeting four to six weeks in advance of the show, teasing users about your announcements and the products you will showcase at the event.
  • Run a contest via Facebook and Twitter, then have the winners stop by your booth for their prizes.
  • Use social media to pitch briefings for a targeted group of individual journalists and analysts at the show. Make sure to follow those individuals and comment on their at-show activities and whereabouts.
  • Showcase your business partners by highlighting what they’re talking about at the show in posts/tweets – and ask your partners to do the same for you.
  • Set up a Foursquare venue for the booth, and give a prize to the mayor and everyone who checks in.

And here are some seemingly obvious social media tradeshow tips that are important not to overlook:

  • Make sure your company’s social media profiles are integrated into all booth signage, in-booth screens and monitors, sales and marketing collateral materials, press releases, press kit materials, etc.
  • Include the tradeshow’s official hashtags (as specified by the show organizer) in all tweets, retweets and @ mentions. If there isn’t an official hashtag, look to see what the most prevalent one is, and use that one. This ensures that individuals who search for that tradeshow’s hashtags will see your tweets.
  • Post press releases, media coverage, photos and video from the show on your social media outlets.

At Calysto, we’ve spent 14 years building relationships that help our clients increase the value of their businesses ― using both traditional and social PR channels. Since its founding as the first telecom-focused agency back in 1999, Calysto has made it a priority to establish rock-solid relationships with the media, analyst and influencer communities – and to deliver content that they find newsworthy.

As a result, they listen to us when we call, tweet, post, share, comment, pin, bookmark, and +1. Essentially, we act as your 24/7 social PR communications hotline to the media and analyst influencers who matter to you most.

In today’s world, of course, public relations means more than just communicating with the influencers. At Calysto, we also take your content and deliver it directly to your customers using both traditional PR and social media outlets. Because an effective public relations strategy today targets not only influencers in the media and analyst world but also uses a company’s content to speak directly to its customers, partners, investors and other target audiences to build those relationships as well.

And the best part? When you work with Calysto, it’s all executed with laser-like precision and efficiency by a EVP-level only professional account team.

If you want to get the word out about your company at your next tradeshow, and get the most impact for your brand through a comprehensive PR effort, please give us a shout. We’d be delighted to discuss our social PR expertise and services further, and provide a more in-depth explanation as to why the “Post ‘N Pray” approach is nearly always a big miss.

However, if you’ve got time and news to waste, and marketing dollars to burn, give “Post ‘N Pray” a go. And be sure to cross your fingers, too. Your brand will need all the help it can get to grab an already overwhelmed editor’s attention. Same goes for customers, prospects, and partners.

Remember, you can sign up for PR Vibes™ at

And we’ll be tweeting live from many of the key fall tradeshows – so be sure to follow us on Twitter at @PRVibes or @Calysto to stay totally up to date on all sorts of industry news

Until then…be well and be social!

Best regards,

Calysto Communications

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