SEMA Member News—July/August 2015

Media Trade Conference Creates Opportunities for Manufacturers

 MPMC Media Trade Conference
The 18th MPMC Media Trade Conference was held January in Santa Ana, California. Every year, 100 MPMC-member companies meet individually with editors from around the country.

After 18 years of success, the SEMA Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council’s (MPMC) annual Media Trade Conference (MTC) is still going strong. Every January, the conference takes place at an Embassy Suites in Southern California, where 100 MPMC members set up meeting space in their own individual suites and host 30-minute meetings with journalists.

Key company executives ranging from company owners, presidents and marketing staff to R&D experts and technical experts set up the suites, and members of the media are invited to sign up for private, uninterrupted appointments. During the meetings, the editors learn in-depth details about each company and its products.

Council leadership regularly hears from journalists that the MTC is one of the most efficient and effective ways to learn about what is new in the motorsports industry. After the three-day event, many editors walk away knowing what their next year’s content will be. With that kind of response from motorsports media, it follows that the week is a valuable investment for manufacturers seeking
product exposure.

Brian Downard, vice president of sales and marketing for Lokar, remarked how pleased he was with the quality of participants at this year’s MTC. Lokar personnel have participated in the event several times and often get to meet with media they might not see anywhere else.

Throughout the year, Downard’s team keeps a close eye out for coverage resulting from the event. In addition to magazine articles, the company has had the opportunity to participate in interviews for television, radio and web-based publications. Downard and his team track all of this, which helps them prepare for their meetings at the conference and start building relationships with the editors.

“If it’s someone that we haven’t met with before, we just kind of get to know them,” Downard said of his onsite strategy. “It’s really good for building relationships and taking a minute to know what these guys are up to, what they think, what they’re working on. I don’t know of a better venue to sit and meet people and talk strictly about you. You need to sit there and learn about who you’re dealing with, but you also need to take that time and talk about you. You need to talk about your program and what you have, what projects you’re pushing.”

Downard also knows that his job isn’t finished at the end of the 30-minute meeting.

“The main thing is follow-up,” he said. “Don’t walk out of there in January thinking that’s it for the year. Make sure you follow up with people and keep track of them and see what’s going on—how things are going, if there’s anything that has caused them delays in their deadlines or anything you can help them with.”

His best advice for other exhibitors is this: “It’s like anything else in life—you get out of it what you put into it.”

MPMC Award Winners Honored

John DiBartolomeo, editor of Drag Racing Action, was presented with the Robert E. Petersen Award during the MTC. Each year, MPMC takes time during an evening reception to honor and thank an individual in the media whose work has enhanced the motorsports industry.

DiBartolomeo is known among racers for his enthusiastic support of motorsports and the parts manufacturing niche. He routinely publishes technical articles, bringing exposure to many council-member companies’ products. Along with his coverage of drag-racing events around the country, DiBartolomeo supports the council as a media attendee at the MTC and volunteers his time to photograph MPMC’s events at the Performance Racing Industry Show.

MPMC Chair Rich Barsamian also took a moment to present Chair-Elect Chris Douglas with a chairman’s award in thanks for his leadership. Douglas grew up in a family of circle-track racers and raced professionally with career starts in NASCAR, ARCA and ASA. After spending several years as the operating partner of a start-up stock-car driving school, he joined Comp Cams as a marketing coordinator in 2003 and has since progressed to the position of vice president of marketing. He has participated in numerous volunteer positions with SEMA and its councils, seeing it as an opportunity to give back to the industry and prepare the way for future generations.

The MPMC Media Trade Conference exhibitor application will open at the beginning of August. For more information about the event, contact Lindsay Bianco at

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