Demos Do It – Keeping it Fresh on the Floor

CES Trade Show Demo

This isn’t your grandma’s “wear comfortable shoes and bring business cards” post about a tradeshow floor! We’ve been logging some miles around the country recently, and have watched two very distinct scenarios unfold. One is an engaging booth that always seems to be full, and the other is the group that puts forth an effort, but can’t hold an audience.

The cause of the breakdown seems simple, but so many often miss it due to siloed thinking, or an inability to listen to their audience. What separates an average booth from a great experience at a tradeshow is the how the demo is done. The exhibitor that has a great booth understands the product just as well as he or she understands the audience and accommodates them accordingly. By asking questions of the attendees and then showing how the product seamlessly fits into their lifestyle or activity will make a fan (and a new customer!) faster than any slick video reel or tradeshow giveaway. Even better, converting a naysayer into a fan by proving how the product can fit into their life is one of the strongest testimonials a brand can get from a show floor.

So, while you’re prepping for your next show, make sure you understand your audience as well as you understand your product and be ready to modify your demo accordingly. And, of course, wear comfortable shoes and bring business cards…

“Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing” – When it Comes to Experiencing a Product


Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell had it right, there truly is nothing like the real thing and that certainly became apparent while at CE Week 2014 in New York. Being able to demo a product for media, buyers and investors, rather than verbally or digitally conveying a product’s unique selling points, is worth its weight in gold.

There’s a reason why “showrooming” exists – there is no substitute for touching, feeling and generally experiencing a product for oneself. It’s as if a connection takes place between the device and the journalist, one that couldn’t be made if they weren’t able to experience it firsthand. Experiential marketing is typically thought of as a means to reach end users, but through trade shows, media events and desk side briefings, PR professionals engage the media with a form of experiential marketing that provides brands with impactful media engagement that can’t be quantified.

Guiding journalists through their hands-on experience is paramount to the demo as well. A savvy product manager or PR executive will quickly ascertain the media’s knowledge base of the product category and industry, and then tailor their demo experience accordingly.  Highlighting the benefits that key features provide, along with how specific user groups can utilize them is a great way to have a product resonate with the media.

In-person demos require time, planning and budget, but in the end they are amongst the best ways to truly capture the interest of media and transform them into fans of your brand.

Mastering the Art of Live-Tweeting During Events

In this day and age, businesses want to be part of relevant conversations that help create awareness, drive traffic and build a community where engagement between a brand and its audience is celebrated and meaningful.  So it’s no surprise that live-tweeting has become a focal point of many brands that try engaging relevant audiences by participating in conversations around live events as they happen.

But what exactly is live-tweeting and how does it differ from common/day-to-day tweeting? It’s actually pretty simple, and is the act of tweeting around a live event as it happens.

There isn’t a single correct way to live-tweet; at its core, live-tweeting is supposed to be organic, conversational and in real-time but there are tips that will help facilitate live-tweeting as a company.

  1.  Use the correct hashtag in the conversation.  Many live events broadcasted by major channels create a hashtag specifically for the event.  Make sure you are reaching the right groups of people by using these hashtags.  If there is more than one hashtag you can use them, but don’t go hashtag crazy and use a different hashtag for every tweet you put out.  If you’re hosting the live-tweet, make sure you let your followers know ahead of time the hashtag you will be using to facilitate the conversation so they know what hashtag they should be using.
  2. Tag the people and companies that are relevant to the event in your tweets when you mention them.  Who knows, you might get a retweet, mention or follow from that person.  Remember, live-tweeting is all about engagement!
  3. Don’t go to Twitter jail.  There is such a thing as being locked out of Twitter for over-tweeting.  The rules of not landing in Twitter jail are: don’t go over 100 tweets an hour (this includes retweets), 1,000 tweets a day or more than 250 Direct Messages a day. Over-tweeting can also overwhelm your followers.  If you find yourself locked up with the blue bird, it can take an hour or more before you can tweet again.  Time is everything during live events, so be mindful of how often you are tweeting so you don’t miss out on the conversation.
  4. Engage, engage, engage.  The real magic of live-tweeting is that it allows you  to connect with people who might share a similar interest, so make sure you monitor the hashtag you are live-tweeting about and start relevant conversations with others around the topic being discussed.
  5. Track your conversations.  Using social measurement tools (like Co-Tweet or help you keep track of any relevant hashtags and also keep track of click-throughs to any links you might have tweeted during the event.

Live-tweeting is a great way for brands to connect with consumers and if done right can be a great way to get new followers, and expose your brand to new customers.  Remember to have fun, put some thought into your tweets and interact with people having the same discussion to get the most out of your live-tweets!

Key Ingredients for Lasting Client Relationships

On a daily basis, PR professionals spend their time cultivating relationships with media members to ensure their clients receive the best possible press for their products or services. Getting wrapped up in core PR activities can, at times, manage to get in the way of strengthening relationships with clients, relationships that go beyond the business. Providing exceptional results for your clients is what every PR professional hopes for, but how can you achieve this without knowing who your clients are outside of his/her email signature?

Sometimes, the smallest gestures can build a personal relationship with your client. These are a couple of ways to start connecting with your client:

1)      Conveying Your Excitement – Whether you are releasing a new product, or kicking off a new partnership with a client, it’s exciting! Some people can get mired in a “professional” mentality that can temper their enthusiasm. Avoid that at all costs! Your passion shows them that you are invested in their brand, and will demonstrate that you’re worthy of representing their brand to the media.

2)      Pick Up The Phone – Building relationships and getting to know someone takes time. Take a break from pecking at the keyboard, and get on the phone with your client to update them and share your latest developments. This is also a great opportunity to dig deeper into their businesses and ask them about their sales, web traffic, and new product ideas. You can also take this time to provide them with media feedback. This gives them a sense of media sentiment and often spurs ideas for improvements on existing products and new products. This will open up the line of communication, make future conversations more fluid, and your client won’t associate a phone call with bad news!

3)      Communication Sync – Another critical aspect is communicating with your client in their preferred way. Although most are accustomed to email and phone, some clients prefer to chat through text or Facebook. Once you’ve determined their preferred method of communication, you should take into consideration how they prefer to receive it. Some clients want concise reports of your progress, while others like to receive detailed accounts of all pertinent information. Everyone has a different communication style and finding which one works best for your client is key!

By taking the time to get to know your client, you and your colleagues can gain a better understanding of who your client is and the best possible way to represent their brand. Not only will you provide better service, but you will solidify your personal relationship, paving the way for a long and fruitful partnership.

Policing the Internet; Impact of Net-Neutrality on Users

Net-neutrality has become the buzzword in the realm of Internet service, both in the public and private sectors.  On January 14, 2014 the FCC ruled to decline the position for net-neutrality. Because of this ruling, and for clarification purposes, cable and Internet providers now have the legal right to block a series of websites, applications (or apps), blogs, videos or cloud technology services. What this means for the average Internet user is, your Internet or cable provider has the legal right to determine if they want you to read this article, even further, to give priority access to content of contract services that pay a higher toll for faster and/or uninterrupted access.

This is not the first hack at net-neutrality. During the George W. Bush administration in 2002, the FCC made a decision to classify broadband services (i.e. the Internet) as an “information service”. However, there is a long-standing legal term called “common carrier”. Common carriers are organizations or companies that provide access to a communication media, such as a telephone system or Internet service provider. These common carriers exercise no control over the content that they provide. When applied to the Internet structure, this means that all traffic must be treated equally. Why is this important?  Because, when the FCC classified broadband as information services it, in turn, made them exempt from these common carrier requirements.

Internet freedom, or what we would like to call, one of our Internet Amendments, is one of the basic rights allowed to us as subscribers of Internet technology. The ruling negatively affects the everyday lives of businesses and Americans and will alter the free state of the Internet. Since its inception, the open nature of the Internet has been a founding element of the technology, in that the user has every right of access and accessibility that founded the communication medium. This FCC ruling will adversely affect these rights and accordingly the rights of free speech.

It is unclear what the exact short term and long term ramifications of the net-neutrality ruling will have on businesses, but what is clear is that most businesses will at some point feel the impact of this ruling in the immediate future.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Should service providers be forced to pay a higher premium for better bandwidth and selection of content? Does the FCC ruling affect you or a service you provide consumers?

The Media Landscape Has Evolved – Have You Kept Up?

Twitter. To some, it means keeping track of news, sports, celebrities, and tracking your favorite food truck. To others, it’s just another platform that wastes time. There are also those who aren’t sure what it is and if it’s important. No matter your personal feelings about the microblogging service, it has inserted itself into many facets of or lives. It seems that hashtags are everywhere- even Facebook adopted them in June of 2013.

Perhaps no community has embraced it more than the media. With a few years under their collective journalistic belt, Twitter has evolved into an indispensable tool for many looking to not only connect and share stories, but to find sources and stay abreast of headlines. PR pros have also taken note, and used the medium as an extension of the symbiotic relationship of exchanging information to create compelling stories. At least the good ones have.

So, how can Twitter help land your next placement? First, it’s important to engage. Keep in mind Twitter is a community, and hollow attempts at pitching journalists will often be met with silence. Start by following journalists who cover beats you not only enjoy reading about, but also beats that are related to your clients. By following the conversation (and participating with a RT), you’ll reap the benefits of continuing your own education about the topic.

It’s also important to pay attention. We’ve been able to help journalists who have tweeted a story idea or a need for a source or product. If you can assist, let them know with a reply, and follow up with an email as quickly as possible with more information.  It’s also important to pay attention to other topics and be helpful when you can. We recently connected a journalist who was looking for freelance writers with someone looking for freelance work.

Create value. If you find something unique, newsworthy, funny, inspiring, or clever, share it! By actively participating in the community, you’ll be able to make connections and expand your own network.

The moral, as so many of them are, is to use common sense, be helpful and pay attention.

After CES: Now what?

The biggest consumer trade show is over (with dates already announced for 2015) and by all accounts it was a tremendous success. New products were lauded over by media and buyers alike, resulting in a slew of blog posts on highly trafficked sites and pre-orders with key retailers. Everyone at the office can pat themselves on the back for a job well done. But now a month has passed and unforeseen manufacturing delays have made forecasted shipping dates seem overly ambitious. So how can you keep from losing momentum and continue to engage media, buyers and customers?

1) Utilize Social Media – Face it, there is no better direct line of communication with key stakeholders. Social media can be used to provide regular progress updates, showcase product developments and even gain consumer insight into packaging design, feature sets and more. Not to mention the ability to incentivize customers to pre-order on your site while also devising creative initiatives that will bring new potential customers into your social channels, creating a network of brand advocates ready to share your new product. Additionally, your social media presence is often tied to brand perception and sentiment. Are you giving your audience a reason to engage?

2) Air Freight Samples for Non-Published Strategic Reviews – Having an experienced independent reviewer test your new product prior to sending to media is mission critical. This non-published review will provide critical feedback that will help guide your PR strategy. Does the product have shortcomings? Do we need to change the messaging or positioning? What are the key advantages over the competition?  How does the feedback affect publications and reviewers that might receive a sample?

3) Seed Key Long Lead & Marquee Media – Provided the non-published review was positive, consider seeding samples with influential media in advance of retail availability. This will give media time to conduct a thorough evaluation of the product so the publishing of their reviews coincide when retailers begin selling your new product.

4) Availability Press Release – Remember all of the amazing media coverage that hit when you debuted your product at the show? Once your product is ready to go to market, distributing an availability press release is like launching your product a second time. Make sure to tout retail launch partners in the press release, this will provide them with additional exposure and streamline the sales cycle.

We get it – debuting a new product is like bringing a child into the world. It’s exciting, scary, and you can’t wait to hold it in your arms. We also know that Murphy’s Law is more prevalent in manufacturing that virtually any other industry. But with the right strategy, even manufacturing delays can turn into brand-building opportunities.

To CES, or not to CES?

The holiday season is generally filled with parties, presents, and if you’re even remotely connected to the technology industry, planning. International CES is one of the most important technology shows of the year, with attendees from more than 150 countries descending on Las Vegas to get a glimpse of the latest technology from some of the world’s leading innovators. According to the CES website, last year there were more than 3,200 exhibitors, and representation from 78% of the Fortune 100 companies.  Additionally, there were more than 140 startups in attendance, eager to learn and share their innovations.

For those few days in January, Las Vegas is overrun with gadgets and geeks, and the tech press churns out articles at a blistering pace. Even music superstars are getting in on the action, with the likes of Lady Gaga and 50 Cent appearing to endorse products and garner attention.

With all of the activity, it would seem obvious that attendance is key to taking your company or product to the next level, right? Not so fast! There are a few important questions that you need to ask before making the commitment:

  • Are we ready? This seems like a simple question, but one that still needs to be asked. CES is a time when companies have the chance to reach a global audience, and putting their best foot forward is an absolute must. Ensuring that products and the teams that support them are completely ready is a critical first step in deciding on whether or not to participate. With so many products on display, having a fully-baked product is essential, especially if you are a young company wanting to make the best impression on media and buyers. Nothing can make the media (and your potential customers) lose interest faster than vaporware. Showcasing your intellectual property in front of the industry prematurely can also be damaging to a reputation.
  • How can I stand out? While it’s an exciting time, it’s also a very noisy time both figuratively and literally. Many products are announced, CEOs give keynotes and concept products are shown. It’s important to be able to distinguish your product or business to avoid getting lost in the conversation. One way to do that is by taking advantage of the “best of” lists, show dailies, awards and on-site opportunities. Submission timeframes matter, so make sure you’re able to jump on these opportunities as early as possible.
  • Do I have support? Staying organized is key for any trade show or event, and CES is no exception. In addition to having an organized plan, it’s important that all of the stakeholders know their roles. At the same time, it’s also important to make sure that the team on the ground has support from home. This can include everything from overnighting those forgotten business cards to shipping out units for an interested press person to review.
  • Can we create a compelling booth? Putting up a few standees and a few tables won’t cut it at CES. With so many booths vying for attention, a clever and inviting booth design is needed to encourage traffic. Don’t lose out on potential customers and media coverage because of a boring booth.
  • Or, do we need a booth? While it may sound contradictory to the bullet above, it’s very important for a prospective exhibitor to review all of their options. With the show spreading out further from the convention center each year, many companies and events are utilizing meeting space and suites at hotels for meetings and demos. However, it may be difficult for some to leave the show floor for meetings, but providing transportation to could be a good way to alleviate this issue.
  • Are my shoes comfortable? This is mostly for the ladies, but fellas take note! You’ll be on your feet for hours and likely walking a few miles (the record-holder on our team logged an impressive 9.4 miles just in the convention center back in 2011!) so make sure your shoes are appropriate. We repeat – this is not the time to break in those new loafers, or give those 6-inch heels a try!
  • Bonus question: Do I have time for a massage? If you have time, indulge. You deserve it! 

Tapping into the Home & Housewares market

Americans spend nearly 5% of their income on furniture and household items each year[1]. With the median household income in the United States at $50,502[2] it would not be uncommon for a home to spend over $2,500 per year on household goods.

Competing for the household dollar is challenging and competition between manufacturers is fierce. Staying ahead of your competition with original and fresh products while ensuring those products receive prominence can be achieved with an effective PR and social media strategy.

It’s essential that your agency is using the correct tactics for the job and identifies the right contacts and media outlets. The popularity of social media platforms varies between demographics, so selecting the right platforms, specific to your targeted audience is essential.

For example, over two thirds of Pinterest users are female and aged 25-34. Over a quarter of Pinterest users have an annual household income of over $100,000. Needless to say, this is a prime social media channel to reach affluent buyers of home & housewares and should play an integral role in your strategy.

Using social media also allows customers to search for reviews in real time and most importantly, post their own. Potential customers are using social media to investigate a product before purchasing; they want to know the experiences of their peers with a similar lifestyle who use the product. They’re not only interested in their peers’ assessment of the product but are also looking for the unique way their peers interact with and utilize the product.  Consequently, monitoring your reviews is an essential practice and any negative reviews must be immediately addressed with a replacement or something else of value to the client.

Online communities encourage people to share their story and inspires collaboration. Customers offer peer-to-peer recommendations by illustrating how products improve their lives and encouraging others to make the same purchases. Customers with negative experiences use online communities to warn their peers about unreliable products and often express dissatisfaction and contempt and warn their peers to stay away from a particular product. Strategic and constant monitoring places you in a proactive position allowing you to address negative feedback directly and instantly.

Though there is no substitute for a world-class design team, social media should also be used to tap into the existing customer base and ask their input on how to enhance current products and which type of products should be produced during the next design cycle.

Gaining market share in the home & housewares space requires influencing key stakeholders: the media & the consumers. With an integrated PR & social media strategy, a capable agency will set a brand apart from the competition and capture more of the consumer’s household spend.


[2] 2011 Census.

When social media goes awry, a traditional approach might help.

Everyone was horrified by the senseless act of violence and terror that shook Boston during this year’s annual marathon.

The following day, people throughout America and beyond stood as one mourning the loss of three innocent people, and encouraged first responders and the security forces as they pledged to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

People and businesses took to social media to show their support, Facebook was awash with the Boston Red Sox logo and #Boston trended on Twitter for days following the attack.

People will let you know they want to dislike your post.

Companies posted their condolences and sent their thoughts and prayers to Bostonians. One health food company made an epic mistake by suggesting their customers show solidarity with Boston, by trying a heart healthy New England breakfast to get through the sad day. That mistake will make it into the textbooks and educate those curious how not to use social media during a crisis.

When employing a social media strategist or company, make sure that they understand or have a back ground in Public Relations. Social media experts often overlook PR practitioners thinking their approach and practices are too old school. However, social media experts should work closely with traditional PR practitioners to create a comprehensive audience centered approach for crisis management.

A PR practitioner possesses a keen sense of awareness about an organization’s target audience and is capable of not only maintaining but also improving its public relationships. Practitioners enhance engagement by creating effective dialogues with a company’s customers or clients. Public Relations experts understand, react, and oftentimes anticipate customer’s needs, requirements and concerns.

Social media are components of a detailed PR strategy. It is the PR practitioners’ methodology, expertise and skill set that elevate an organization’s use of social media platforms. Great social media practitioners will employ proper PR skill sets, the self-styled social media guru/expert/ninja/butterfly is simply shouting in the wilderness, hoping someone is listening.

There are countless examples of cringe worthy social media mistakes, due to a gap in opening hours, stores encouraged its customers to stay safe at home and shop online during Hurricane Sandy; or a popular fast food restaurant encouraging its customers to elaborate why they love it which resulted in customers publicly reliving horror stories of gastroenteritis and poor service.

The good news: Any good PR practitioner would identify from the outset the aforementioned were bad ideas and the pitfalls of those messages. The bad news: too many companies don’t recognize the positive synergy that results from PR and social media experts working together, creating powerful campaigns.