IAEE gets face-to-face with first PR campaign

DALLAS: The International Association of Exhibitors and Events (IAEE) is rolling out its "Click Here First" campaign in an effort to underline the importance of face-to-face experiences through testimonials.

DALLAS: The International Association of Exhibitors and Events (IAEE) is rolling out its "Click Here First" campaign in an effort to underline the importance of face-to-face experiences through testimonials.

Edelman, the nonprofit's recently hired AOR, is supporting the three-year initiative, which officially begins on January 1, 2012. IAEE and Edelman are currently accepting stories from exhibitors about face-to-face experiences on show floors, which will be used as testimonials as the key focus of the campaign. Social media will also play a role via IAEE's Facebook and Twitter channels.

The PR effort is a first for the 80-plus-year-old organization, which represents more than 1,400 companies that conduct and support exhibitions globally, said IAEE president Steven Hacker. The campaign will target corporate marketing executives.

“Unlike so many other PR campaigns that are undertaken to defend against or respond to negative publicity, we thought what better time to launch a positive campaign that reinforces the unique value of a face-to-face exhibition and event when you're the leader,” he added.

With social media in the spotlight and the advancement of digital communications tools, some companies have begun to pull their booths off of trade show floors. This week, Microsoft announced that following next month's Consumer Electronics Show, it would no longer participate with a booth or keynote, but will continue to take part in the event in other ways.

Virtual shows have also gained ground, but Hacker doesn't view them as the enemy.

“We look at a virtual event as an essential supplement to the face-to-face experience because, if used properly, it can do many good things, such as laying the groundwork months in advance for the face-to-face engagement,” he said. “It can serve as a platform to transmit content and promotional messaging from exhibitors and sponsors around the world to audiences that would never be able to truly participate in a face-to-face experience. It's a great weapon to add to the arsenal.”

Edelman was selected in October following a competitive RFP involving three finalists from a pool of 19 applicants. The firm was awarded a three-year contract with a total budget of $150,000 to $200,000 a year. This also represents the first PR AOR hire in IAEE's history.

Dallas-based IAEE employs 25 people overall, including four full-time staffers to handle marketing and communications. A five-person team from Edelman is working on the account, according to the agency.

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