Melanie Johnson-Holliday, Account Director – Eskenzi PR
South by Southwest in Austin, Texas is the latest victim of the event cancelling procedure due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. With the first big cancellation shocker being Mobile Word Congress in Barcelona that cost the sector millions, it looks like many smaller industry events are set to follow suit and be postponed or scrapped around the globe.
It is totally understandable that event organisers are taking these precautionary measures in order to protect exhibitors and visitors, but what happens if the cancelled event was your major push for sales leads and you have a complete PR and marketing plan in place? It could quite possibly be a devasting blow to your company’s annual sales figures or awareness campaigns; but don’t despair, you can put a plan of action in place that means your company won’t lose out.
Here are our tips on a PR and marketing back-up plan if you’re event exhibition is cancelled:
Turn presentations/speaker opportunities into webinars: Webinars are one of the best ways to increase sales leads. If you have a great presentation topic, don’t waste the content! Turn it into an interactive online event that could reach a global audience rather than one that is just the cancelled event’s captured visitors. A webinar will help you connect with current and potential customers, and its interactive nature will allow you to discuss the topic and receive feedback in real time
Rearrange press interviews: If you’ve set-up face-to-face press meetings, make sure you reschedule these interviews over the phone. Don’t miss out on potential relationship building just because the event has been cancelled. The meetings have been secured because the journalists are interested in what you have to say, and that shouldn’t change, even if you can’t meet with them face-to-face.
Create thought-leadership pieces: Make sure you continue to talk about the message you’ve based your exhibition presence around. Create and draft thought-leadership articles to offer advice and talk about the challenges the visitors to the trade show are facing, but don’t be salesy. This will create substantial coverage and content for your company, whilst offering valuable guidance for your target customers.
Still send out your press releases: Still send out your scheduled news announcements, but redraft them slightly by taking out any mention of the event, such as your booth number etc. As the event is cancelled, this could be your chance to shout the loudest and get valuable coverage. Remember, if you’re announcing your biggest news at a trade show, it could simply get lost amongst all the noise. But, with no event happening, other exhibitors won’t be sending out irrelevant releases like preview announcements, so take this opportunity to make sure you’re heard.
The main thing amongst all this uncertainty is… DON’T PANIC. There are ways to make sure your company doesn’t miss out to this pandemic, and you can continue a solid PR and marketing campaign to bring in those vital sales leads and raise awareness. Everyone is aware of what is happening and are adapting the ways they’re working to keep safe; so don’t be scared to change tactics to still get the results you want.