Seven Mistakes Exhibitors Make When Working Media at the SEMA Show

By Della Domingo

New Products
One of the first stops for media attending the SEMA Show is a visit to
the New Products Showcase searching for the best new products.

With more than 3,000 media credentials issued at the SEMA Show each year, the annual trade show provides exhibitors with a great opportunity to generate media coverage and increase product awareness. While having a dedicated media relations strategy is always important, having a plan at the SEMA Show is critical. Like others at the SEMA Show, journalists are busy gathering as much relevant content for their audiences as possible. Exhibitors can increase their media coverage by avoiding some of the most common media mistakes, listed below:

Mistake #1: Not Entering a Product in the New Products Showcase. One of the first stops for media attending the SEMA Show is a visit to the New Products Showcase searching for the best new products. Despite this, less than one third of all exhibitors enter a product into the Showcase. The first product entry is free for all exhibitors; however, the most successful exhibitors participate in the Showcase with not just one product, but multiple entries.

Mistake #2: Not Having Someone Dedicated to Media Efforts. 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 make the media a priority. While your primary business is getting the product ready and selling to buyers, making the media a priority will lead to top results.

Mistake #3: Ignoring the Media. More than 3,000 automotive media attend the Show looking for the latest products and news in the industry. One conversation with a journalist can elevate your presence at the SEMA Show and expose your product or service to a wider audience. Don’t ignore media who come to your booth or reach out to you via email.

Mistake #4: Giving the Media Buyer Brochures. One key to managing media inquiries is to prepare product news in advance. Brochures and catalogs are helpful, but many media prefer prewritten press releases that they can copy and paste, along with high-resolution images or easy-to-download video clips. Most editorial workers prefer that this information be supplied on a flash drive or online link.

Mistake #5: Being Quiet About Their Participation in the SEMA Show. Media plan for the SEMA Show months before the event arrives. By the time journalists arrive in Las Vegas, their calendars are often filled. Exhibitors who promote their involvement in advance increase the likelihood of being included on a reporter’s schedule. Exhibitors can get in front of journalists by posting press releases at no cost in the SEMA Show online media center.

Mistake #6: Not Posting in the Online Media Center. The Online Media Center is available for exhibitors to post Show-related news at no cost. Journalists visit the site to fill the pages of their publications and to identify exhibitors they want to visit during the Show. Individual press releases receive almost 100 site visitors, with releases posted earlier getting the most views.

Mistake #7: Exaggerating the Facts. Journalists want facts, statistics and non-biased information. Avoid hyperbole and exaggeration and stick to the facts. Demonstrations are helpful and allow reporters to come to their own conclusions. Invite media to view demonstrations in your booth at a time when there are product specialists available to answer questions.

Exhibitors can learn more about public relations resources available at the SEMA Show by visiting the Exhibitor Services Manual, and contacting to receive ongoing PR tips and updates for SEMA Show exhibitors.