The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show

January 19, 2014 | Curt Blakeney

The 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) just finished last week, and for thousands of companies, it provided a great opportunity to springboard new products into a waiting marketplace. Many companies — including some of the biggest in the world like Microsoft, Sony and Samsung — used the CES to announce new product launches. Smaller companies, including many Kickstarter-funded companies, also used it to showcase their new gadgets to the thousands of journalists who descended on the Las Vegas Convention Center for the annual electronics extravaganza.

While large trade shows like CES can provide a great opportunity to potentially get your product in front of millions, it has to be done in manner that is media-friendly. Here are five tips to maximize your PR efforts at any tradeshow:

1. Prepare a press kit — You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on an elaborate press kit. Even a folder with a product sales sheet and a CD should suffice. Many times, journalists are on tight deadlines at CES. Make their lives easier with a press kit. At the minimum, include a one-sheet with product information (what it is, where to buy it, and cost) and a CD or flash drive with high-res images (as a rule of thumb, a JPG 1 MB or larger is considered high res).

2. When appropriate, have media samples available — Journalists have to visit hundreds of booths each day. While it would be great to give each one a personal demonstration, sometimes it’s not possible. At the very least, have a media sample available that they can take back to their hotel … or even home with them. It’s better that they write about your product later … than never. And if you should run out of samples, ask journalists for their business cards, so you can mail them a sample when you get back to the office. The courtesy will go a long way in making a favorable impression.

3. Don’t Let the Crowd Get to You — As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Be courteous and respectful to everyone who visits your booth. At times, the CES can be overwhelming and hectic. Don’t let it get to you.

4. Don’t be understaffed —Bring ample staffing for your booth. If you’re understaffed, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and cranky (see number 3 above). Bring extra employees for the event — so you’re prepared for visits by buyers, wholesalers and journalists. If you don’t have the resources to fly your entire staff to Las Vegas, hire part-time help in Las Vegas for the basic stuff.

5. Treat all media with respect, big and small — Of course, you want to get a write-up in the New York Times. So if you should get a visit from the Times tech writer, be prepared. But keep in mind, many “smaller” freelance journalists also post reports for tech and news websites like Yahoo News and Examiner. Be mindful of this — the last thing you want is a scathing online review that is viewed by millions. If you can’t help them immediately, at least acknowledge their presence with a greeting, and tell them you’ll get to them as quickly as possible. Have a staff member offer them a bottle of water or a press kit while they’re waiting.