Six Considerations to Improve Your Virtual CES PR Strategies
Senior Vice President
Like nearly all events, press conferences and tradeshows of 2020, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will be the first major tradeshow of 2021 to kick off the new year in virtual form. Hopefully you’re already in the process of re-envisioning your PR strategies, but if you need a bit more direction on how to successfully navigate these uncharted waters, consider these six helpful tips:
- Ditch the January ball and chain: Even in years past, I’ve seen brands break through the technology clutter by creating moments ahead of the week of CES. Reporters have even said CES usually ends for them by the first official day of the show. While not ideal for our reporter friends, I see CES 2021 having an even broader activity window, starting as early as after Thanksgiving and going through the middle to end of January. Going early will help you set the narrative and give you a leg up to penetrate competitor coverage and round-ups. It could even give you a fighting chance if you’re a smaller or unknown brand.
- Focus, focus, and focus some more: It’s been a long year and media as well as consumers have thin patience. Additionally, with the show being virtual, it will be even easier for brands who don’t traditionally attend the show to leverage the CES news cycle, creating increased competition. As a result, this is not the year to highlight your full portfolio. Less is more. Pick the most innovative, the most memorable and the biggest sales bets – and hold the rest to promote after CES. While I believe we’d benefit from this strategy every year, you will help reporters focus on what’s most important and you’ll give yourself more headspace to elevate the creativity around your programming. In addition, you’ll have greater success launching the portfolio at hand.
- Respect the media - or else: Media are our lifelines to telling stories but it is important to remember they each have stories of their own – from increased family responsibilities and reduced editorial staffs to distracting work environments and the world’s stress. Your client is not the center of their universe so be reasonable in your expectations and requests. Extended lead times and organized, succinct press materials will be appreciated for making things as easy as possible for them. For example, instead of sending them a link to an overly produced virtual press kit, be snappy and call out the top news announcements within the body of the email, along with a one-sentence elevator pitch as to why it is relevant to them.
- Editorialize your multimedia assets: Our media counterparts don’t just push pens and mash on keyboards to create feature stories at CES. They capture, edit, and publish a great deal of video and photography, which helps generate greater reader and viewer engagement. Without an on-site, hands-on experience, think of the content your client’s brand can create and share with media. Go beyond the perfectly polished marketing assets your team might be used to and challenge yourself to create and deliver more editorial and lifestyle assets - mirroring what media themselves might capture. Help journalists help you.
- Think outside (and beyond) the box: For many, CES is one of the few times each year companies have available to immerse media in their brand. Just because the event is turning virtual and media are strapped, does not mean all is lost. Before you jump on the bandwagon of trying to recreate the physical experience, be it a creative mailer or at home experience, think through how your approach is going to be different and stand out from all the others. If you’re struggling with how to stand out, be honest and pivot to avoid a campaign flop. Your client will appreciate you saving them budget, and your media will appreciate you unnecessarily cluttering their homes.
- Virtual or not, be human: For brands, media, analysts and the like, CES is a place of connection and a place where we see imagination and innovation come to life. In previous years, the products and innovations that stand out are those that successfully demonstrate their connection to you and me. This year should be no different. In a time where we crave human connection, challenge your teams, clients and brands to tell genuine stories that are less self-serving and more about championing human progress. Bring that through in how you communicate as well. Be real, strip out the marketing speak and utilize virtual tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams to deepen authentic relationships with your media counterparts whenever possible. Be a face, not just another brand name.