The ABC's of CES Prep 

Alice Shepherd

While most consumer goods professionals have been thinking about gift guides for the holidays (is it really going to get cold again?!), consumer tech folk have another looming winter date on their mind: CES. 

As consumer tech PR pros and veteran CES attendees, we wanted to share our top tips for how to make sure you’re doing the most you can do to prepare your clients in the run up to the event. 

Image from Sebastien Wiertz used under CC license.

  • Get everyone – your team and your client’s – on the same page
    • Understand EXACTLY what you will be talking about when you hit the show floor – is it a new product? New functions added? Updates? Make sure everyone is aligned on what you are going to be talking about at CES.
    • Messaging is key – start working on this now and ensure everyone attending – no matter what position – has their lines down, to prevent verbal fumbling when media is asking for a quote during the show and the official rep is nowhere to be found. When our client spokesperson for ONvocal had to rush across Las Vegas for a USAToday interview, the team didn’t break a sweat - everyone at the booth knew the messaging for media who came by in the spokesperson’s absence.
  • Get a head start on the headcount
    • If you’ve been before – reach out to your old contacts from year’s previous – if they’re not going, see who else at their outlet is going. This is also a good time to check if there’s any chatter as to what might be a big buzz at the show. Is it wearables, is it drones? Figure out what you’re up against!
    • If you have never been – don’t panic! Although the media list isn’t released until November, spend time researching who covered your product category last year, checking in with media friendlies and seeing if you have any access to old attendee lists to get an idea of the types of media who have gone in the past.
    • For LoopPay, our client who was acquired by Samsung in February 2015, coordinating meetings ahead of time was key – and so was flexibility. Though your executives are busy at the show, make sure they’re able to keep some time open for last-minute meetings with key media and influencers. In LoopPay’s case, it led to a piece of coverage in Business Insider, with the author, Steve Kovach, Tweeting that LoopPay was the coolest thing he had seen at CES. The title of the piece, “This Tiny Metal Coil Has The Power To Change Mobile Payments And Become Bigger Than Apple Pay,” was one of the best headlines that the client had ever seen.
  • Get your calendars synced
    • If you haven’t booked travel yet, it’s time to have a pow wow with your client and their full team – do they have any prior commitments during the show? Will they be staffing the booth? Who will be there on which days?
    • Set up a group calendar, such as Google Docs, that can be updated in real time. Keep tabs on everyone starting now and then you will be able to schedule as soon as you can in November.
  • Get inventive
    • No news? No new product, but still going? You can still make a splash at CES. Do you have budget to make your booth a little ‘out there?’ (think: speakers, music, crazy décor). Our client, ClearView Audio, made a huge impact with this fun booth last year.
    • Other things to leverage? New execs, new research? Brainstorm about anything you have that’s different and new – there’s your hook for conversations with media. It’s not easy, but it is possible!
  • Get social
    • Before you get to Las Vegas you should have created a Twitter list of key reporters you want to connect with at the show. This way you can follow them in advance to see what they are tweeting about, and engage with them before January.
    • At the show make sure to have someone back at home following them and keeping you updated as you move on the show floor. This will allow you to know what conferences and talks the reporters are attending, what they think are the coolest things at the show, and where they are at throughout the day. At last year’s show the ONvocal team chatted with USAToday’s Tech Reporter, Jon Schwartz, via Twitter, which lead to a meet up to get drinks. Twitter is a great tool to leverage for relationship building!
  • Get picky
    • If you’re a CES vet, then you know that come November, you’ll be receiving millions of pay for play opportunities for the event. Take the time now to understand exactly what your client wants from the event and how much additional budget they are willing to put forward. Once you know if social is a priority or if broadcast is a priority, you’ll be poised to pick out the best and weed out the rest of the opportunities that bombard you before CES.

Most important tip? Get out there and have fun! CES is exciting, so don’t get bogged down in the details. Take PAN client, Fuel3D, they traveled the show floor offering 3D selfies - with a lot of social media buzz!

Do you have any good CES prep tips or success stories? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

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