B2B comms: How to get value out of trade shows

Trade shows are on the agenda again after the lockdown hiatus. Attending can be hugely beneficial for businesses but also a drain on time and marketing resources, so how do you maximise the value?

In March’s It’s A B2B Comms Thing LinkedIn Live, I chatted with comms pros Ayo Abbas and Emma Drake about how to make sure you get the most out of these big trade events.

Here are some key points; scroll to the bottom for the full video recording.

Screenshot from the It’s A B2B Comms Thing LinkedIn Live on trade shows (March 4, 2022)

What actions should you take before your trade show?

Ayo: The key thing for me is building some energy and excitement that you’re going to be somewhere. Before a show, start talking about it and sharing what you’re going to be doing.

Social media plays a huge part in that, and you can start connecting with potential visitors and delegates. And use it as a way to build your relationship with the organisers – find out what hashtags they’re using.

If there are press interviews and previews, make sure that you’ve got your press releases out there and all your details and ready to go.

Me: If you’re launching something at the show, think about getting the press release to journalists under embargo because once the show’s on, they’re going to be extremely busy. They’re probably not going to have time to turn around press release stories.

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Marketing on a budget: ways to be more visible

How do you increase your visibility and (personal) brand awareness outside of social media without spending a lot of money?

Screen shot of me mid flow, talking to Trisha Lewis via Zoom for her Make It Real podcast. The Make it Real logo and episode title: Visibility on a budget appears in the centre of the screen between the two of us.
Me in full flow during my chat with the brilliant Trisha Lewis

Trisha Lewis is a communications and presentation coach I’ve got to know on LinkedIn. We’ve chatted in the comments on each others content and DM’s.

She asked if I would be a guest on her Make It Real podcast and talk about using different channels to build visibility.

So, things like guest blog posts and comment pieces on targeted websites and publications, being on panels at events, as well as posting on social media platforms like LinkedIn.

How I came to be a guest on her podcast reflects a point I made during our chat about the benefits of letting people hear you speak and see you on camera.

I’ve been creating videos on LinkedIn for a while, started doing LinkedIn Lives, and posted links to webinars I’ve chaired.

It gives potential podcast hosts and event organisers a chance to see what I’m like ‘in action’ and showcases my areas of expertise.

Below is a teaser for our conversation, and you can listen to the full podcast episode here on Apple Podcasts or search for Make It Real with Trisha Lewis on your preferred podcast platform.

Some of the things we cover in the episode include:

🎧 What journalists are looking for so you can pitch effectively.

🎧 Ditching the corporate tone using your authentic voice to stand out.

🎧 Using video and audio as part of a content plan

Teaser clip from my chat with Trisha Lewis on her Make It Real podcast

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Press interview tip: Understanding the journalist’s agenda

I was doing a B2B media training session recently, and the topic of journalists’ ‘having an agenda’ when doing press interviews came up.

The assumption being that a B2B journalist will already have an angle to a story or feature and be more interested in questions and conversation that supports that.

A woman sit with a pen writing in a note pad at an event. You can see others sat near her with notebooks.
Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

And as a result, using a press interview as a means of getting your voice or opinion heard, the odds are stacked against you.

Do journalists have an agenda when they sit down to interview someone?

Having been a journalist for 20 years, I can confidently say: ‘Yes.

But it isn’t quite what you think.

A B2B journalist’s agenda will first and foremost be to find an interesting story or useful information for their readers and subscribers.

That’s their job.

If you understand who their audience is, you’ll have a better idea of what the journalist is going to be interested in talking about.

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How to make your B2B press release repel journalists

Want to make sure that journalists hit delete on your B2B press release?

Here’s a handy guide to what you can do to ensure the story on your press release doesn’t make it onto your target B2B news website or into the pages of a trade magazine or newspaper.

Close up shot of the delete key on a MacBook with the caption: It is easy to get your press release deleted.
Press releases are easily deleted. Photo by Ujesh Krishnan on Unsplash
  1. Just put “Press Release” in your email subject line rather than a headline.
  2. Write a boring subject line.
  3. Don’t paste your press release into the email just write: Our press release is attached.
  4. Send your press release as a PDF.
  5. Make your press release really long.
  6. Write your press release in huge blocks of text that are difficult to scan on screen.
  7. Use marketing speak.
  8. Use unsubstantiated claims (unique, leading etc)
  9. Include a bland corporate quote that adds no value or context to the story.
  10. Say your are delighted in your quote.
  11. Waffle rather than getting straight to the point of the story
  12. Bury the story some where near the bottom of the press release.

Why is all this effective for repelling journalists?

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4 common misconceptions about B2B press releases

Press releases can be an important way of sharing your B2B business news and building visibility, but there are some common misconceptions about how journalists treat press releases.

Photo by Juliana Malta on Unsplash

Understanding how journalists work is important for writing and targeting your press releases and building a relationship with trade journalists.

From the questions I’ve been asked about press releases over the years, these are the four most common misunderstandings:

1. The press release will get used as written

Nope. Most likely, you’ll have sent your B2B press release to a press list.

Publications and websites are competing for stories and readers. If the story is interesting to the journalist, they will be looking to create a point of difference to make it stand out.

Unless of course they are very busy but then if it is used as written then it most likely means they don’t believe it is worth spending the extra time on. (Sorry.)

2. It’s your story

It isn’t your story. You may have written the press release, but once it’s in a journalists hands, they will do with it what they want to make it engaging for their readers.

Think of the competition and how they want to differentiate.

They may take a different angle to what you’ve presented. They may want to interview someone from your business to get extra information or comment.

And they may talk to other people to get different views – including your competitors.

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