Exhibition announcements

Writing news about exhibiting at trade shows.

Industry events can create a great deal of buzz, not just when they take place but also in the run up to them. They offer one of the outstanding opportunities to promote what you do and the press release is a cornerstone of the communications needed.

To get noticed they must be newsworthy and unique. There will be many other exhibitors issuing news about their activities; potentially hundreds of announcements. Here are some guidelines that can help.

Number one ‘don’t’:

My Company to exhibit at ACME Trade Show
My Company is delighted to announce it will be exhibiting at the ACME Trade Show on March 4 and 5, at booth number 262.

Alongside dozens of other trade show announcements, this announcement is no more newsworthy than:

Man gets on bus
Man is delighted to announce he will be boarding the number 9 bus on March 4 and 5, outside McDonald's.

The heart of the story is missing and there's no impact on anyone, it doesn't mean anything to anyone. Trade show announcements should offer much more than just that ‘a company is exhibiting’.

And ‘being delighted’? ...such a common line in uninteresting PR. News is only interesting when it means something to others. Being delighted means most to those who are delighted. It’s inward looking and isn’t newsworthy enough to be the main theme of a news announcement. The best publicity looks outwards.

Pick one main theme, such as a new product announcement, an innovation, a thought-leadership position, a research study, a speaker slot or presentation, support for a good cause. In almost all cases, the real interest will be in what you are doing at the event and what that means to people both at the event and beyond.

My Company to launch XYZ at ACME Trade Show

My Company CEO to argue for XYZ at ACME Trade Show

Next, the headline should work together with the synopsis to deliver the key facts about what you are doing at the event, who it’s for and how they will benefit. For example, taking one of the headlines above:

My Company CEO to argue for XYZ at ACME Trade Show
Joe Bloggs of My Company will explain at ACME Trade Show why investments in XYZ can help rocket scientists to develop new, faster spaceships.

Why focus on just one main theme?
It’s likely that you will have many things going on at a trade show - launching products, speaking at the conference, supporting a charity, etc. It’s tempting to cover them all with a catch-all headline and then list each activity in the news announcement, such as:

My Company announces activities for ACME Trade Show
My Company will be launching XYZ, speaking about ABC and supporting DEF at the upcoming ACME Trade Show.

The problem this causes, other than losing impact, is it doesn’t really mean enough to anyone. It’s better to focus the announcement on one main theme and either cover the other activities later on in the news announcement or issue separate announcements about those which are newsworthy in their own right.

I’m doing a presentation, should I include its date and time in my announcement?
These are obviously important pieces of information, but they are not part of the announcement’s ‘news value’. A presentation announcement’s news value will always be its content and arguments and who’s presenting. So include logistical info, such as when and where, in the main body at the end and not in the headline or synopsis.

Should I include my stand number?
This again is relevant information to include in a news announcement, but it has zero news value and should not be included in the headline and synopsis. A good place to include the stand number is in a notes section at the end.

Should I include details about the trade show, its venue, date and other facts?
Yes, but in the main body, not in the headline or synopsis. Your announcement should focus on what you are announcing. Use a paragraph in the main body to leverage the values of the trade show.

More tips...

Should I include keywords and optimise the release for SEO?
Yes. A news announcement is a powerful way to assimilate not only the main keywords for your company or product, but also wider keywords associated with your announcement's topic - such as a particular industry sector, a particular customer or topical industry news. But remember, first, it's a news story and should read naturally.

I have a page about my product on my web site. Should I use it as my press release?
No. A press release is a topical, news announcement. Of course we all know it's a piece of publicity as well, but it will only create publicity if it's a newsworthy announcement. News is unique: if it's a product page from your web site it isn't.

Why does it have to be written in the third person?
A news publication isn't the subject of the information (the first person), or the recipient of the information (the second person), it's an intermediary (a third person). Go to any news web site and try to find news that isn't written in the third person. News only exists in the third person. A good way to approach writing a news announcement is to imagine that you are a reporter reporting on the situation and the 'third person' usually comes naturally. Avoid words like 'I', 'my', 'our', 'we', 'you', 'your', and instead use 'its' and 'their' and refer to 'company names', 'market sector names' and 'job roles'.

For example, don't say: "We are attending the ACME Trade show where you can see our product launch."

This first and second person language is fine on your own website, your own social media pages and other channels that you own, but it is meaningless on a third party news site, because people don't know who 'we', 'our' and 'you' are.

Instead, writing in the third person, say: "XYZ Company is attending the ACME Trade Show where L&D professionals will see its product launch."

Why don't news announcements contain any exclamation marks/points?
News only contains facts. Exclamation marks/points are used to enhance and facts should not be enhanced. If an author feels the need to use an exclamation mark/point in a news announcement it is likely the story is weak and, shouting louder by exclaiming, will simply switch readers off a weak story even quicker.