Everybody loves robots.Dan Kara, president of Robotics Trends, saw this for himself on a recent trip to Japan, where he saw a massive robotics show that attracted nearly 70,000 people.
"We were being told that people were not interested in robots," says Kara, whose media company serves the robotics marketplace. "But people were misreading that. The marketplace has been exploding. We wanted to find a way to bring this stuff to the States."
Kara found a way with RoboNexus, a robotics event catered to both the consumer and corporate robotics marketplace, bringing together leading robotics manufacturers, researchers, and hardware and software developers. Kara wanted the three-day event, produced in conjunction with IDG World Expo, to appeal to business professionals, software and hardware developers, hobbyists, re- searchers, students, educators, investors, and consumers.
To generate interest and attendance, Kara hired Parachute Marketing about a month before the show debuted at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California.
With only a month to develop a communications campaign and execute it, Parachute president and CEO Virginia Jamieson knew she had to capture the visual qualities of the story. Jamieson says she wanted the media to show people what they could expect to see at the show, while reinforcing how robotics are already a part of everyone's life - at work and at home.
And that meant getting the press to write about RoboNexus, not just as an event, but as an opportunity for people to discover how robots are playing a role in their lives now and will continue to do so in the future.
Parachute aggressively pitched the media to write about robotics as both a news story and a larger trend story. The media were also given hands-on access to robots, as well as to the speakers and experts who took part in the show.
"It can be hard to get time with [robotics developers and researchers] during the show," says Layla McHale, senior associate at Parachute. "We wanted to give the media as much time with them as possible before the show. The media was able to talk to a lot of people about the development of robotics and how they are being used. That generated a lot of coverage."
Parachute positioned robotics as the next big thing, saying that RoboNexus was where the media and the public could learn more about one of the hot new tech sectors, adds Jamieson.
That hook was very instrumental in getting the media to write about the show and robotics trends before the first day, as well as attracting a tech-savvy public in Silicon Valley. Parachute wanted media coverage to appeal to everyone, from families to early adopters.
"They were able to attract all constituencies," says Kara. "A show just for business or just for consumers won't attract the crowds we needed. And they were able to attract attendees from all backgrounds."
Pre-registration for the event was around 1,000 people. But Jamieson credits the heavy media coverage just days before the show for driving attendance to 10,000 people. Of that crowd, approximately 275 were from the investment and financial community.
As for the media, about 65 reporters attended the press event and show, which garnered coverage in local print and broadcast media outlets. The show also generated national coverage in Popular Science, Financial Times, Fortune, PC Magazine, Machine Design, Computerworld, and other national publications and websites.
Parachute will help Robotics Trends plan for the next RoboNexus, which will require a much larger venue, at least double in size. Kara says he hopes to produce the next show late in 2005, and that he's looking to attract 20,000 attendees. He also wants to take the show to Europe and to produce some consumer-centric robotics shows on the East Coast.
PR team: Robotics Trends (Northboro, MA) and Parachute Marketing (San Francisco)
Time frame: September to October 2004