What PRs can learn from CES this year

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is a great opportunity for PRs to represent their clients at one of the most important consumer tech shows of the year. Dynamo PR's Paul Cockerton advises how to make the most of it.

Prepare wisely for CES, advises Paul Cockerton
Prepare wisely for CES, advises Paul Cockerton

After hardly enough time to digest devilled turkey, many are crossing the Atlantic for what is probably the most important consumer tech show of the year, the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas.

I’ve been coming to Vegas for trade shows for 18 years, both client side and agency side, but there’s always something new for PRs to learn about.

As it starts so early in the year, it’s never too early to start pitching to journos, with writers already seeming to have long lead times for features. The importance of CES lies not only in its size, but also when it’s held, setting trends for the year ahead.

Good advice to give to clients exhibiting is to get their stands ready for demos at least one day before the show officially starts. Press will be wandering the halls looking to be the first to file copy for on-the-floor reports, so having demos and clients ready to give interviews the day before can give you the edge in getting coverage, hopefully driving buyers to the stand throughout the show.

Several large PR events are held at the beginning of the show, including Pepcom and Showstoppers. All are good events for guaranteeing journalists' attendance, though you should not rely on them to wander round and find your stand, but use the event's media lists to secure briefings.

Some clients will also run teaser campaigns up to the show – this year Faraday Futures was a good example of building up a huge amount of interest before its announcement of a feature super car earlier this week. I’m not convinced it delivered on the hype – people were expecting more of a solid announcement, and as a result I noted several subsequent tough interviews for its executives as the media continued to ask the most relevant questions about what it was actually doing, and when.

Nevertheless, Faraday still sits very much among one of the hottest trends of CES – the ongoing development of the car industry. PRs should take note that this show, perhaps even more so that the North American International Auto Show, is setting the news agenda for the industry. There were even reports of journalists deciding not to follow up with the latter show.

Other big trends include VR, ongoing innovation in TVs and fridges, and large areas in halls being devoted to international start-ups, many of which raised early funds through crowdfunding.

With so much money invested in attending and exhibiting, it’s good advice for PRs to beware of taking too much advantage of early parties – both for their own heads but also clients. I was surprised this time to find out that several journos reported second-day interviews being cancelled at the last moment due to exec "unavailability".

Finally, if you’ve never been to CES and are planning to come to it next year, there are a couple of tips worth passing on. You’ll walk, and walk, and walk – today I covered nearly eight miles between the various venues, which are big. Invest in a good pair of trade show shoes (Rockport is my favourite), and to avoid the 30-minute-plus wait at taxi queues try to stay at a hotel on the monorail (we stay at the Westgate).

Next year the show starts slightly later in January, and the year after moves by a couple of days yet again. But there’s always media appetite for news before the show starts, so don’t move your planning too much.

Paul Cockerton is co-founder and co-CEO of Dynamo PR

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