Are trade shows worth it?

By Brianne Murphy Miller, Director

I’ve worked more trade shows than I can count on behalf of clients – gathering media interviews, manning booths and enduring long hours on my feet. From the National Hardware Show to CES, Book Expo America to the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, I’ve logged more hours on the floor of convention centers than almost anyone. Yes, the workdays are long and you’re “on” for 12 hours a day but I’m here to tell you…it’s worth it.

Why? Simply because trade shows are a microcosm of an industry. Where else are industry press gathered in one place at one time? Where else can you scope out the competition during a stroll down endless, concrete aisles? Trade shows are one-stop shopping.

There are a few ways to get the most out of your trade show media outreach:

  • Start early – exhibitors usually have access to the attending press list months in advance of the show. Start reaching out to those important to you and book booth appointments early. Calendars get really busy really quickly.
  • Have news or create it – if you’re not showcasing a new initiative or product, create something to gather interest. Hire an industry celebrity and host a cocktail party in your booth, release research, or give sneak peeks at schematics. There are a lot of “shiny objects” at a trade show and you need something to entice media traffic.
  • Use the show for relationship building – beyond garnering placements, a trade show is a great place to spend a few minutes and get to know the media you pitch face-to-face. Don’t squander that opportunity. A face-to-face meeting is worth infinitely more than 10 phone calls or 25 emails.


I still treasure the polaroid of me with Richard Simmons from a trade show 20 years ago. It’s funny and captures a moment in time when my career was new and on the rise. What’s the craziest trade show moment you’ve had?

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