CAMPAIGNS: Trade Show - Targeting techies and newbies

Client: eShow - The Consumer Internet Event

Client: eShow - The Consumer Internet Event

Client: eShow - The Consumer Internet Event

PR Team: ExcitePR

Campaign: eShow Time Frame: July 1-September 9

Budget: dollars 15,000

How do you devise one PR strategy to target two completely different audiences? That's the problem Bob Zuckerman faced when he came up with his idea for eShow, the first-ever Internet 'trade' show for the consumer.

Zuckerman, a longtime PR man, envisioned a unique event that would bring both experienced technophiles and skeptical technophobes face to face with Internet companies at the world's most famous arena: Madison Square Garden. But how could he market one event to two such incongruous groups?


ExcitePR was hired in July to get the word out about the show. With two divergent audiences, two strategies were clearly needed: one to target the techies; one to target the newbies. The team, led by JoAnn Soo-Leung, realized that of these two groups, the techies were considerably more accessible; the fact that ExcitePR is well connected in New York's Silicon Alley was no small factor in that. Insider newsletters, publications and party lists would alert the Net-savvy, but they were going to have to work a bit harder to bait the newcomers.


Unfortunately, when it came time to do the legwork, the team seemed content to tread on familiar turf. They composed a direct-mail campaign and obtained mailing lists from sources familiar to the dot-com crowd, such as event co-sponsor Yahoo! Internet Life magazine and the invitation-only party list known simply as 'Bernardo's.' 'If you have to ask what Bernardo's is,' said Soo-Leung, 'you don't work in Silicon Alley.'

In a move that saved money, attracted vendors and got the word out, deals were forged with media outlets whereby mentions or ad space were traded for a booth at the show - hence yielding more mentions in tech circles.

One such deal involved including the e-show on Vindigo, a program for personal hand-held devices that helps users find nearby entertainment in large cities. Several popular event Web sites, such as, mentioned the eShow and provided links to its Web site. Finally, flyers were distributed to those buildings in downtown Manhattan that are known to house dot-com companies.

To attract Net virgins, ExcitePR stuck to the basics. Zuckerman was sent to local outlets for interviews, and the agency sent press releases to most local media.

The agency also received some unexpected help. On the day of the show, one of the vendors, I-Clips, hired guerrilla marketing firm Ahead of the Pace to chalk its logo on Seventh Avenue directly in front of Madison Square Garden. Although police stopped them before they could finish the job, the half-done murals were enough to bring people inside.


Newsday, a major NY local paper with a circulation of 572,000, ran an interview with Bob Zuckerman in its Plugged In section. The Associated Press ran a story, which was picked up by dozens of outlets, including USA Today, Fox Newswire and CNNfn. Pieces also appeared in Time Out New York and the alternative weekly New York Press.

All in all, the event was a success, attracting 6,500 people, with an unexpected - but welcome - concentration of families and children.


The eShow Web site remains up and will serve as a 'virtual expo' until next year, when another eShow will hopefully come to Madison Square Garden.

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