It’s tradeshow time….are you ready? The sea of lemonade stands at RSA, Interop, Web 2.0 can be daunting…but if you stay off the beaten path there are other great reasons to go.

Tradeshows have proven to be excellent platforms for executives to gain thought leadership visibility and can be launching pads for key announcements. However, with all the noise surrounding industry events, many clients have asked if making an announcement at a tradeshow is the best way to get the biggest bang for the buck.

The short answer is yes and no.

If the tradeshow where you are planning to announce your new product/service is of a substantial size and will be well attended by prospective customers, target press and key analysts, the tradeshow could be a strategic outlet. However, for smaller tradeshows that are not as sharply focused on your target customer and press audiences, you might be better off holding onto the news and finding another venue to announce such as a bi-coastal press tour or hosting a customer or media event at your corporate headquarters.

If you decide a tradeshow is the venue for your announcement, the right approach could help you garner more coverage:
• Investigate and pursue show specific awards. These are often limited to products that are either announced at the event or publicly shown for the first time at it.
• Pursue speaking opportunities on topics related to the product or services you plan to announce.
• Target show daily opportunities. Some shows may feature a newsletter each day of the show and others may have one only the first day.
• Investigate which issues of your target publications will have bonus distributions at the show. Pursue coverage and/or advertising opportunities in those issues.
• Procure the press attending list to begin assembling your target appointment list for show briefings. Supplement with your own target lists since press and analysts may plan to go but register at the last minute. When contacting press or analysts to schedule a briefing at the show, start early. At busy shows schedules can fill up even a month in advance.
• Plan your announcement date to capitalize on coverage opportunities. Some companies may decide to issue an announcement the second day of a show to avoid the noise of day one. However, if day one is a Monday and day two is a Tuesday, you may miss out on coverage in weeklies that come out on Mondays, and by the following issue, your announcement may be considered old news.
• Don’t forget about pre-briefings. Pre-briefings done before the show will help you reach some press and analysts who are too busy for meetings at the show. Pre-briefings will also help you garner coverage the day of your announcement.
• Don’t’ forget about wrap-up coverage. Many editors and reporters write about news at the show and then publish subsequent articles wrapping up trends and the bigger picture.
• Use your briefing times to investigate other coverage opportunities. Briefings are a great way to discuss topic ideas for contributed articles or other opportunities with your target press face-to-face.

ALERT: Read Guerrilla Trade Show Selling: New Unconventional Weapons and Tactics to Meet More People, Get more Leads and Close More Sales

Whether or not you decide to announce at a tradeshow, there are many ways to build awareness for your company and its products/services at an event. Virtual Press Office (VPO) is a mainstay offered at most major tradeshows. VPO offers innovative services to facilitate the communications process between high-tech firms and the media through online press kits where you can upload press releases, bios, corporate backgrounders and product and executive images that are easily accessible to press worldwide.

As far as what shows in which to participate and take advantage of exhibiting, speaking opportunities or VPO, the list is limitless.

So if you want to make tradeshows work for you, be selective and determine if you should attend vs. exhibit or if you should do a Webinar or podcast instead. Tradeshows can be costly but if you’re creative can drive awareness and revenue.