A survival guide for PR pros at their first CES

Map routes between meetings. Keep the reporters' perspectives in mind. And wear comfortable shoes.

Photo via CES' Facebook page
Photo via CES' Facebook page

Attention, CES rookies. The international consumer tech tradeshow, while exciting, can be just a little overwhelming.

PRWeek spoke to seasoned communications pros and got their tips and tricks for surviving the Las Vegas mega-event.

PRWeek: What’s the one thing you wish you knew the first time you worked for clients at CES?

Dean Bender, principal, Bender/Helper Impact
It's taken quite a few years to actually develop a strategic plan of attack at CES. I probably played it too loose and allowed the show to come to me. I've learned that I've got to take control and map out a game plan well in advance of the show – including details related to meeting proximity and transportation requirements. The little things have become critically important for success at the show.

Andy Pray, founder, Praytell Strategy
Aside from packing mega-comfortable shoes, begging a client to invest in carpet, and watching out for open bars, I'd go with putting myself in the shoes of the journalists. They are short on time, have been walking miles all over the floor, and are a little overwhelmed, so anything that can be done to make their briefing experience with you painless is important. It sounds basic but that first time, it's easy to get focused on a personal experience, or that of the client vs. thinking about what the journalists are going through.

Sabrina Horn, CEO, Horn Group
The first time I worked PR at CES, I wish I wore comfortable shoes and had Vitamin C and Advil on-hand to keep the headaches at bay. I also wish I had mapped out where I wanted to go ahead of the show so I could have been more efficient with my time on the floor. And that I knew where the press room was located, so that I could possibly reconnect with the reporters who missed their appointments close by there.

Tara O’Donnell, UK MD, Text100
Make sure your clients are camera-ready all the time since there are always broadcast journalists and videographers roaming and lurking around every corner. You never know when they’ll pop up in your booth. A shiny face – or worse – is never good on the news no matter how good your messaging is.

Brian Gendron, VP of worldwide communications, MasterCard
The sheer size of the show, and the volume of news, is overwhelming. Having that perspective can help you set expectations within your business, or with your client, as it's often difficult for your news or message to break through the noise of CES.

John Digles, EVP and GM of the Chicago office, MWW
There is a real art to creating a national and global ripple effect from news at CES. Given high consumer interest in technology and thriving social conversation at CES, announcements at the show have the potential to reach well beyond – to audiences that may eventually become end-users. It’s important to seize the moment at CES, then magnify that moment well beyond the show with a comprehensive effort. It takes a lot of work, and the results are worth it.

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