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The righT Pr effecTPlenty of attention is given to the influence social networking channels are having on visitor and exhibitor marketing, but how important does PR remain in developing a show brand? We ask three organisers for their viewMarilyn JarManHead of marketing,Haymarket exHibitionsPR has always been integral to the overall marketing strategy of our shows. Whether it is a PR stunt, a celebrity interview or an editorial piece, PR has the ability to leverage our marketing campaigns, increase the awareness and ultimately strengthen our brands. We have many celebrities attending our shows and they play a key part in our PR strategy. Their status enables us to raise the profile of our brands and engage with the media. The level of recognition they experience can have a positive impact. It does not always need to be an elaborate PR stunt; a radio interview can easily bring a fantastic return.The alignment of our sponsors and exhibitors also plays a huge part in strengthening our brands and it's key in developing good PR stories. With the media landscape evolving so much over the last few years, we have had to adapt our approaches and strategy accordingly and shifted focus towards social media. Although we have maintained our budgets, we have gone from using agencies for all shows to splitting our portfolio between external agencies and an internal department. The shows employing agencies recruit their supplier on their industry knowledge and experience. These agencies bring a breadth of contacts, creative ideas and renewed thinking. Our internal department has built great partnerships that help us with continuity and they work more closely with the show team. Each approach has benefits and we adopted the approach best suited for each brand.We are not always in control of what a PR campaign can deliver and it can be challenging, but we have to have the attitude that any PR is good PR and turn it into a positive whenever possible. This is even more relevant today with social media. Not only do you have to respond, you also have to work with the thousands of individuals commenting on your brand. They have become a powerful new type of media setting trends, with the ability to convey their opinion fast and with an unlimited reach. But ultimately it's also an opportunity to communicate direct to individuals.lorna CharlishHead of marketing, i2i events groupOur spend on PR stands at 11 per cent of marketing activity today, compared to about five per cent a few years ago.We recently developed a two-tiered approach to PR, from top-tier international news channels including digital, print and broadcast media, to the invaluable trade press that work across each sector of our shows. The increased investment is a reflection of our commitment to build global and well-recognised brands that are market leaders.PR is a wonderful way of amplifying the brand message and gaining market reach in a credible way. Our in-house team has been restructured so individuals have specialisms and are focused on building the trade contacts necessary to get closer to their market. This is complemented by media consultants with strong industry ties. Digitally, we have built our social media networks in-house, and we try to engage via blogs. We also look to ensure we have eye-catching images to back stories.Tier two is a new development focused on international consumer and business press. For this, we will use a global PR agency, who we will announce shortly. Agencies have the kind of reach to amplify our message on a global scale, although through our two-tiered approach I hope this means we have the best of both options. A good example of successful coverage would be the BBC Breakfast Show at Spring Fair 2012 and at Naidex, which reaches 7m viewers and is a great prompt for on-the-day attendance. A key success criteria for our PR strategy is to generate publicity on behalf of exhibitors. We recently had a four-page article in The Guardian for Naidex that came via PR with a focus on market issues. We do research with exhibitors to understand how they felt about our PR support; this is used to benchmark success. We also have our own KPI ratings system based on volume, favourability and placement. Thirdly, visitors who cite an article as a prompt for attending is used to evaluate success. Our Cost Per Visitor for PR can never compete with that of email, for example, but it is key in terms of brand building and thought leadership.JoannE Marshall senior marketing manager, ubm built environmentThe role of PR has fundamentally changed; it is no longer simply a means to amplify a campaign and now has a much more integral role, with PR activity often forming the basis of a campaign. PR is essential to enable us to position and build our brand, enable truly effective engagement with exhibitors and visitors and to capture the industry's imagination. We make sure we communicate the results from the buzz our PR creates.With our launch show Interiors London, taking place next year, one of the first steps we took was to employ a PR agency. The agency helps facilitate relationships with contacts we might not necessarily have, which then enables us to generate newsworthy content. We chose an agency that has a targeted approach, is embedded in the interior design community and could be an extension of our show.With Decorex International, we hold an exhibitor event before each marketing campaign to remind exhibitors of the importance of thinking creatively about PR, and to get them committed to creating news about our industry. We drum home the importance of celebrating excellence. This ensures each exhibitor is a show brand ambassador and that we are working with them to really engage our visitors.Maintaining contact with key press is still important and we continually drip-feed information to keep the events visible and to build momentum. We've also deployed include missions, blog tours and interactive press trips. Social media has seen our PR campaigns interlace traditional PR methods with digital ones, and allows us real-time storytelling and two-way communication. The Decorex 2011 Loves Bloggers campaign targeted social media designers with a competition to find the best design blogger. It resulted in 2,292 social media mentions, 110,000 Facebook post views and 109 pieces of coverage. While social media allows many PR opportunities, we are careful not to over-rely on our own opinions of ourselves or think social media as a communication channel is more important than our message. 21FOOD FOR THOUGHT

building blocks22 has been a busy month for our Industry Expansion Initiative (IEI), with a number of key developments we believe will help build our community. Firstly let me welcome and thank our latest supporters: Peterborough Arena and ASP, who join Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Perton Signs, Earls Court and Olympia (EC&O) and Moyne Exhibition Services. Their commitment to help make the pie bigger for everyone is really appreciated.Finding our next organisersIin this new column for the industry expansion initiative, Mash Media Md Julian Agostini details our efforts to grow the exhibition community and develop new exhibition organisersAs part of our first efforts, Mash Media launched a survey of conference organisers to pinpoint those with an appetite for launching exhibitions. In June, we followed up with those that expressed an interest and now have 49 new readers of Exhibition News and, more significantly, 49 would-be exhibition organisers looking to launch independently off their existing community or partner with an established organiser. Twenty-two would like to attend the Exhibition News Race Day, which is dedicated to launching events and will take place at Sandown Park on 19 September.In addition, we are starting to use our membership of the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) to identify those with an opportunity to launch an exhibition. Our meeting with the association last month laid the groundwork for a partnership to create more exhibition organisers, and thus more events from existing publishers. The AEO's Karim Halwagi is also doing great work in this regard. As avid EN readers will have seen, exhibition industry consultant James Gower has been brought on-board by ITV to help create events from the broadcaster's extensive brand portfolio. This news is extremely exciting and, again, through our meeting with James, he has highlighted several other communities that could create exhibitions through the IEI.Latest LaunchOrgAnIser: Former dMg Events executive vice-president Jason FranksDAte: 16-19 May 2013Venue: Alexandra Palace, londonOVerVIew: Mums show live is aimed at parents of 4-12 year-olds in the uk.why It's beIng lAuncheD: While there are lots of events aimed at parents of newborns or in various stages of pregnancy, Mums show live is about filling a need for an event focused on the issues facing parents of pre-teenagers. Franks explains: "Parenting exhibitions have traditionally been aimed at the parents of newborns, but many parents are looking for MuMs show LiveWhile the first focus for us has been on identifying community custodians with a potential opportunity to launch an exhibition, we recognise we also need to provide assistance in making those exhibitions happen. In the next issue, we expect to announce a date for our first Dragon's Den event, where would-be organisers will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to several of the exhibition industry's leading entrepreneurs. To get you in the mood, here's a random selection of ideas I thought would work but never got round to:The diet show: The idea is self-explanatory. Had a go at Shape a while back and it should have worked.Equipment for ski resorts: There's huge money in this. It would be a logistical nightmare, but I'm unaware of even a convention for this community.Alternative investment: This ran successfully some years ago but then died. Yet diverse investment opportunities are more and more popular due to the failings of the banks and the idea is worth another look. Grass roots rugby/cricket: The Grass Roots Football Show already exists, but grass roots rugby and cricket are up for the taking. Everywhere you look on a Sunday morning, there are hundreds of parents and thousands of kids involved in supervised sport. All the parents want to be mini coaches - there are 37 at my local club. Stay tuned next month for our next IEI throughout the pre-teen period, which is what we are aiming to provide through exhibits, entertainment and the opportunity for dialogue with experts and fellow parents." cOmpetItOrs: The organiser claims it will be the first of its kind with a pre-teen focus. DemOgrAphIc: 15 per cent of children are born in greater london, rising to 25 per cent across south East England. AspIrAtIOns: 20,000-30,000 visitors and 150/200 exhibitors. FeAture set: conversation theatre; marketplace to showcase brands including clothing and entertainment; school gate area for educational services; home and garden zone; separate mum and dad eVer lAunch... was the Fast and Furious show, which was an indoor and outdoor modified car show.we DebuteD... in 1995.the IDeA cAme FrOm... my love of cars.the bIggest eDItIOn... attracted 30,000+ visitors and i held the exhibition at brighton Racecourse every september.It wAs A success becAuse... we had chosen a destination venue where visitors could camp out, and we provided quality tOp pIece OF ADVIce FOr AnyOne plAnnIng tO lAunch A trADe Or publIc exhIbItIOn... is to work your budget out and absolutely stick to it.BRaInstORMInGNick ortoN, PioNeer showshOw DO yOu ArrIVe At A gOOD IDeA FOr A shOw? Look for opportunities not served. Maybe a potential exhibitor says, "i'd really like to reach a qualified group of buyers in this market". or possibly there is a change in government regulations. Maybe an existing show has an unfilled niche. whatever it is, there are three things you need before you actually have a show (besides there being a perceived need): there must be a group of buyers (attendees) who recognise this need; you must identify and reach these buyers; there must be a sufficient number of exhibitors who want to sell to these buyers. - Excerpt from The Profitable Trade Show, Michael R. Hough, 2001