6 Tips to Get the Best Traction for Your SEMA Show Story

By Becca Butler

2014 SEMA Show exhibitor Omni United executed an innovative public relations campaign that resulted in quality coverage, 77.4 million media impressions and new business arrangements with more than 1,000 retail locations across the United States.

While more than 3,000 credentialed media attend the SEMA Show each year, standing out from among 2,000-plus exhibitors and getting the attention of reporters who are overworked and on tight deadlines can be challenging. Yet, a good media strategy along with a well-executed trade show plan can generate increased product awareness and lead to profitable sales.

Case in point: 2014 SEMA Show exhibitor Omni United (S) Pte. Ltd. executed an innovative public relations campaign that resulted in quality coverage, 77.4 million media impressions and new business arrangements with more than 1,000 retail locations across the United States. While every exhibitor is unique and results will vary from company to company, there are some key strategies used by Omni United that could benefit other SEMA Show exhibitors:

  • Have someone dedicated to media efforts: Omni United tasked an outside public-relations agency, Laughlin Constable, to execute its media campaign. Having an outside agency/consultant has many benefits, especially since they typically have media relations experience and resources. However, exhibitors can still be successful by keeping their media relations in-house. The key is to assign someone the responsibility of managing the media program and to not treat it as a secondary thought. While your primary business is getting the product ready and selling to buyers, making the media a priority will lead to top results.
  • Targeted media outreach: Media at the SEMA Show cover an array of market segments, including motorsports, off-road, mobile electronics and more. As expected, Omni United focused its PR campaign on the tire media. However, Omni United also included general automotive and consumer media, and—because the tire line uses a rubber compound that is eventually recycled and used in the outsoles of Timberland boots and shoes—fashion and environmental reporters were also included. Omni United conducted web-based research and an audit to identify relevant media who covered the SEMA Show in previous years and reporters who would potentially be interested in their story.
  • Pitch to the media before the SEMA Show opens: Reporters were contacted months before the SEMA Show and offered story ideas, images, facts and access to high-level company executives. Publications that were planning special SEMA Show editions were also invited, under embargo, to individual briefings with company executives in advance of the Show opening.
  • Post press releases in the SEMA Show online media center: In addition to targeting the reporters on the targeted media list that Omni United created, the exhibitor posted news releases in the SEMA Show online media center. This ensured that reporters looking for Show-related news did not miss out on their story.
  • Enter the New Products Showcase: Omni United also entered their new Timberland Cross Tire into the New Products Showcase, which generated additional coverage in SEMA’s publications and online. Exhibitors can take advantage of the New Products Showcase by entering a qualified product for free. And, providing a detailed description of that product can generate additional exposure and drive traffic to the booth.
  • Create a comprehensive press kit: Knowing that thousands of media outlets would be at the SEMA Show, Omni United developed a comprehensive press kit to be distributed onsite at the event. In addition to having press kits available to reporters in the booth, exhibitors are able to place press kits and releases in the official SEMA Show Media Center at no cost.

Coverage of the new Omni Timberland Tires can be found in all three major tire trades, an online feature in the USA Today, as a major feature in the business section of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and in a three-minute segment by KLAS-TV 8’s environmental reporter. Timberland also received coverage in Women’s Wear Daily, Footwear Industry,, Off-Road, Rubber News, Environmental Leader, Sustainablog, GreenBiz, the Winston-Salem Journal and the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

To learn more about all of the PR opportunities available for exhibitors, visit the Exhibitor Services Manual or contact an account rep at or 909-396-0289.