The Trade-Offs for No Trade Shows
By: Cynthia Guiang
How many more trade shows will be cancelled? What will companies do now that these key marketing events are suddenly being taken out of their mix … and what, if anything, might be the silver lining?
One of the most evident victims of the pandemic are trade shows. Over 60 percent of surveyed manufacturers have had their sales and marketing plans impacted by the disruption of trade shows, according to Thomasnet.com, a network for industrial buyers, and two-thirds of exhibiting companies reported that trade show cancellations have had a notable, detrimental impact on their businesses which have reduced their ability to build brand awareness with their target markets. According to the Trade Show News Network, half of surveyed businesses expressed this impact as being “very large.”
As with just about everything affected by COVID-19, we are being faced with the need to pivot, think outside the box, and find ways to press forward that are virtual or socially distanced – and above all else, safe. Some companies plan and time entire product launches around key trade shows so what happens when those shows are cancelled?
Well, as they say, the show must go on. The silver lining is that the budget companies had for exhibiting and travel are now untouched and ready to be put toward alternate activities. Many businesses are scheduling important meetings via Zoom calls in lieu of the face-to-face. Some trade shows are helping make those connections, which would otherwise have been made on the show floor, over the internet, with online presentations, virtual exhibit halls and tools to book meetings. If one of your upcoming must-attend shows was cancelled, be sure to check to see what alternatives show management might be offering.
As a public relations firm, we help our clients connect with trade media at these shows. Major announcements are often timed to coincide with these events so companies can unveil their news when they have their key constituents all in one place. The first major show cancellation that we have found ourselves needing to address is the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As soon as word came down that the January 2021 show would not be taking place, we reached out to some media “friendlies” to see what their thoughts were – and to see how we might best work with them logistically – because we had a hunch that hundreds of exhibitors suddenly wanting to do Zoom calls within the same week was not going to work for them.
Thankfully, this outreach resulted in some solid ideas, and we have put together a very affordable CES PR package for the consumer tech company that would still like to make its debut or launch a new product. The package includes participation in exclusive Orca press briefings, an online “booth” in the Orca Cool Tech Virtual Exhibit Hall and more – all designed to get innovative companies and products in front of the world’s media while at the same time streamlining information delivery to reporters in a way that respects their time, understanding they are already stretched too thin.
Now more than ever, we need to get creative in how we work. While we are always facing changing conditions and have to adapt and modify our approaches, never have we had to make such drastic changes so quickly as we have in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. Luckily in PR, it’s all about looking for relevant angles and creative approaches so being fast on our feet and quick to switch gears is standard operating procedure. I have to admit, these unprecedented times have really tested our fortitude, but I am happy to say that we are still standing, and are stronger than ever. We are ready to tackle the reimagined CES 2021 … and the next cancelled show and the next. While there will certainly be some trade-offs for no trade shows, solid PR opportunities still abound.