The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has become one of the most anticipated and acclaimed events of the year, bringing technology enthusiasts from around the world to Las Vegas to see what’s new and hot in the tech space. However, it has also become one of the most crowded. Although CES 2018 seems light-years away, if your company is planning on launching a new product, it is never too early to start planning in order to help them cut through the clutter and stand out from the crowd.
To help you prepare, we’ve compiled a month-by-month timeline, that includes some hard-won tips and tricks, to help you organize your CES presence and set you on the path of a successful product launch.
+ Begin thinking about securing your on-site booth space, and determine which section would best fit your brand. If you attended CES last year, this is something you can do while at the conference
+ Scan and log recent CES coverage to find relevant media contacts for your upcoming product launch
+ Scan and log recent CES award winners and evaluate different categories for your client to submit for leading up to CES 2018
+ Research and secure a booth designer; determine what assets you currently have and what assets you will need
+ Begin to organize booth design to best capture consumer attention; soft flooring, such as padded carpet, is key for those that will be working the booth and on their feet all day!
+ Determine if b-roll needs to be shot to accompany your on-site booth presence and tease product placement ahead of the show
+ Compile a list of award recognition programs to pursue on behalf of your new product (including the CES Innovation Awards)
+ Organize trade show and marketing materials
+ Determine if you would like to pursue on-site branding and sponsorships
+ Submit CESTV on-site coverage consideration form to help stand out from the crowd and promote your product during the show
+ CES award/speaking submissions open; Submit for all relevant opportunities
+ Work with your CES rep to understand any blog opportunities, news opportunities and press release platforms
+ Obtain a copy of last year’s CES media list and determine which contacts are an appropriate fit for your company and product
+ Book your travel and hotel accommodations
+ Ensure your product is now ready for pre-CES demos; invest in hi-resolution product shots
+ Build out an extensive and strategic media list of those that have attended CES (and CES Unveiled, if applicable to your client) previously, as well as top-tier reporter’s that may not attend but you want to ensure receives your product news
+ Once you have that extensive list built, create a Twitter list of all reporter’s handles. This will make staying up to date on their interests while at CES much easier
+ Determine the product’s official launch date (likely the day before CES or CES Unveiled) and begin drafting product messaging
+ Reach out to the aforementioned list to determine who will be attending CES, and which would provide an opportunity to connect with attending media before the official CES press list is shared in December; Determine their interest in meeting onsite at CES (or offsite if you have booked a meeting room at a nearby hotel)
+ Draft messaging one-pager, including a FAQ, for the media; determine if you’ll have working review units available
+ Compile a media list for deskside pre-briefs in major cities (New York City, San Francisco) as well as a media list for phone pre-briefs for media based elsewhere
+ Use finalized messaging to draft a soft pitch teasing the news in order to secure deskside/pre-brief interest; be sure not to reveal any confidential information until the reporters agree to honoring your embargo
+ Establish a communication plan with your team. Will your entire team be available on the phone or email, or will your team designate a CES point of contact? Will you utilize other collaborative channels such as Slack to share updates quickly? Figure out what works best for you and your team and stick to the plan
+ With the help of your team, establish a CES appointment calendar to help keep all scheduled briefings organized. This will ensure that your team knows when the CEO or spokesperson is available for press interviews, eliminating the pesky emails back and forth inquiring about availability every time a briefing is secured
+ Official CES media list drops; cross reference with your current list to make sure no key contacts are missing – and that you’re not double-pitching any reporters
+ Hold NYC/SF in-person pre-briefs; Hold phone pre-briefs
+ Prepare any media takeaways such as loaded USB’s – these come in handy during the show
+ Anticipate breaking news opportunities and get ahead of them! If you suspect competitors to announce a new product, think about how to leverage their news. Prepare rapid response commentary ahead of time, and receive spokesperson approval on the drafted talking points. While you’ll still need to tailor the commentary based on the specific announcement, having a baseline idea of what you would like to say will make the turnaround time a lot quicker
+ Offer up the news under embargo to all remaining media so that they can start writing their stories before CES and to get the product on their radar for any CES roundups in the works
+ Compile a CES briefing book that includes information on each secured media contact, date/time of interviews and meeting locations
FIRST WEEK OF JANUARY/CES
+ Product announcement goes live; media embargo lifts
+ Pitch the news to all contacts who have not already accepted under embargo, conduct follow ups to those who have, and reach out to anyone who had an in-person briefing – you’ll want to ensure the reporter received all the information they wanted and if not, that you’re there to help close the loop on any lingering questions they have
ONSITE AT CES: DAY-OF
+ Although being on the floor at CES can be hectic, there are a few things you should always keep in mind:
+ Take control and map out a game plan well in advance of the show, including transportation details and how long it will take to get to each meeting; include all relevant maps and information in your CES briefing book
+ Know what media will be onsite, as well as how to pull them to your booth. It’s also important to know where all press booths are located (TechCrunch, CNET and others often have an onsite presence) as some reporters won’t commit to briefings and you’ll need to stop by their booths to make it happen!
+ Know where the press room is, and ask to place some of your press kits on the front counter (although it may not always work, it’s worth a shot!)
+ For press events like CES Unveiled and the first two days of CES, ensure that you have laid out a clear plan of communication with your team if the media stops by; discuss key talking points, interview best practices, etc. This also includes making sure you are camera-ready at all times, as there are always broadcast journalists, photographers and vloggers roaming the show floor looking for interesting people to interview
+ Bring plenty of business cards, and make sure they are easily accessible; media also appreciate it when you write your client’s name at the top so they can easily identify what brand you represent
+ Wear your comfiest pair of shoes. You will be walking and on your feet a lot during the show, so make sure to be prepared
+ Stay hydrated and have several water bottles on-hand at all times; having chapstick is also key as the convention center tends to be very dry!
If you follow this timeline your product launch at CES will surely be a big hit!
Taylor Gallagher & Maria Baez