Tips for Media Trade Conference Success

SEMA Member News—January/February 2015

Tips for Media Trade Conference Success

The Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) holds its Media Trade Conference each January. The event is designed to bring together editorial staffs with racing and high-performance parts manufacturers for three days of face-to-face, 30-minute meetings. Rich Barsamian, MPMC chair, has exhibited at the event seven times and explained that the council’s goal in offering the conference is to help council members gain exposure.

Each year, 100 MPMC-member applicants are selected by lottery to exhibit at the Media Trade Conference. They can host up to 42 meetings with media representatives in their suites over the three-day event.
Each year, 100 MPMC-member applicants are selected by lottery to exhibit at the Media Trade Conference. They can host up to 42 meetings with media representatives in their suites over the three-day event.

“We want to ensure that the MPMC membership has some outstanding opportunities to further and promote to the media the products they manufacture and sell,” he said.

The 2015 event will take place January 20–22 at the Embassy Suites Orange County Airport North in Santa Ana, California. Here are some tips for rookies—or a refresher for those who have participated before.

Exhibiting Tips

Plan an Agenda: Barsamian likens the event to speed dating and encourages exhibitors to narrow down their talking points to the products they want to highlight during the coming year. It can be easy to forget what you’ve covered during such a fast-paced day, so putting together an agenda ahead of time will help to keep you on track.

Focus on the Media’s Needs: At the 2014 SEMA Show Exhibitor Summit, a panel of media veterans shared some things manufacturers can do to differentiate themselves by knowing what editors are looking for and adjusting their approach accordingly. John Stewart of SEMA News, Johnny Hunkins of Popular Hot Rodding and Chris Crean of the Velocity Network advised that it’s important for manufacturers to be receptive. Turning down a meeting could mean closing a door to future opportunities. Presentations should also remain heavy on technical information and product benefits that will be most useful in editorial content development.

Bring Samples, But Not Too Many: Another tip from Barsamian is to bring product samples to the event. George Hsieh is now the product development manager for AEM Induction Systems, but he has also been the brand manager. He represented the company at two separate Media Trade Conferences. He echoed Barsamian’s advice but cautioned new exhibitors not to overdo it. “The first year, I must have brought 500 catalogs and 20 products to my hotel room,” he said. “There’s just no way to display them properly because the real estate’s pretty tight.” He suggested bringing a few products along with a laptop or a tablet to aid in showing other offerings online or from a database.

Media Tips

KJ Jones, editor of Diesel Power magazine, was honored with the Robert E. Petersen award at the 2014 event for his outstanding efforts in motorsports media. As a Media Trade Conference veteran, Jones shared the strategy that has served him well in making the most of his time.

Build a Case: Jones tries to first approach manufacturers with a project concept at the SEMA Show in November, following up with further planning at the Performance Racing Industry Show in December and then locking in the deal at the Media Trade Conference. “My track record for doing things that way was really good,” he said. “I literally put together a project vehicle from concept through having all of the parts and products that we were going to put into the car and work with. Everything was set up at the MPMC show.”

Do Your Homework: Jones also emphasized the need for media to be strategic in choosing which manufacturers to visit, planning meetings according to the product lines most relevant to their audience. Media representatives also need to do their homework in order to collect the information they need. “It’s really up to the editor or the media person to ask good questions and suggest strategies that will help the manufacturers blossom and benefit from the information that can be communicated through magazines, websites and so forth,” he said.

Network, Network, Network

A final word of advice goes for both exhibitors and media: Make all the connections you can. Apart from the scheduled meetings during the day, the Media Trade Conference offers lunch breaks and an evening reception to allow participants to continue mingling.

“We may be competitors, but when we get together, we’re just people—enthusiasts or car guys talking to each other—and I think that’s just a great way to build these types of relationships,” Hsieh said.

For more information about the Media Trade Conference, contact Lindsay Bianco at lindsayb@sema.org or 909-978-6692. Media inquiries may be directed to Della Domingo at dellad@sema.org or 909-978-6723.

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