As we gear up to cover the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week over at Technology Report my email box is simply flooded with PR pitches from hundreds of the thousands of companies that will be exhibiting at the show.
The pitches vary in size and scope but most share a pretty common and I think a very uninspired format along the lines of “You will want to check out our products” “We have extraordinary innovation in … iPOD accessories (!) ” “Would you like to interview our product manager?”
Here are my three PR tips for the firms that … well … maybe ought to be doing something else:
1. Personalization Matters. I’d guess the response to personalized emails is at least twice that of a simple canned message, even when it’s just a name from the Press database but ideally where you’ve bothered to figure out where the person is writing. This is one of the best PR opportunities of the year, so it seems you should at least target a handful of bloggers who write specifically about your stuff. Challenge them a bit to critique the product. Consider going for several “smaller” blogs rather than trying to get lucky with a feature in Engadget or Gizmodo, where the whim of an angry review alone could hurt your products reputation. If your product is great they’ll get around to it eventually, and if the smaller guys don’t like it you probably need improvements before the big time anyway.
2. Parties matter. It’s not fair but neither is the world. Certainly business in general isn’t fair. So if you want some attention and you’ve already invested tens of thousands in staff and exhibits you probably should follow the lead of the big CES *playaas* and at least throw a small party. What would be a clever time for this party? Monday night before CES, when a lot of folks have come into town but generally there are *no* parties yet. Tuesday after CES Unveiled (the big press event) and Wednesday night are also generally pretty open for many press attendees who tend to get into town a few days early for the Press events. The *bad* night is Friday, when your little party will have to compete with the big ticket gigs like the Monster concert and several other parties thrown that night that attract most of the bloggers and press. I think my favorite event at all of CES was a small poker party at Hard Rock Casino, thrown by SONY to launch the game “Pirates of the Burning Sea”. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap – probably ran them perhaps $100+ per person for perhaps 100 people who attended, but it was a superb venue to generate the positive buzz they needed for the game. $10,000 is chump change by SONY standards yet they captured attention of a lot of media for the entire evening.
Getting attention early gets you pre-CES buzz in the search rankings to boot, because by Saturday your product announcement – no matter how big – is going to be drowned out by the 1000 other announcements coming out of the show.
3. Products matter. For some of you some product humility is more likely to win supporters than product hype. It’s laughable when an overzealous PR person waxes poetically, capturing your attention for a moment until you realize they’ve penned an ode to a cheap plastic cartoon iPhone case or the equivalent. Nothing wrong with those products – they represent an extraordinarily large market – but your time is probably better spent targeting buzzworthy folks and sending them samples or … throwing a party … rather than trying to explain why bloggers should be scrambling to do a feature about your plastic cartoon iPod case.
Louis Vuitton iPod Case: $280
OMG I’m writing about iPod Cases!
See you at CES!