Next week’s World Retail Congress and the recent Retail Week Live are just two of the many annual retail trade shows PRs can attend throughout the year. But is there enough value in attending or using the media value created by big retail events? Gorkana looks at the pros and cons with comment from Launch PR, Beattie, Escapade and Mason Williams.
Next week (12-14 April) the tenth annual World Retail Congress (WRC) will be held in Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai, with retail brands such as HMV, Levi’s and Disney attending. Last month’s Retail Week Live featured speakers from Walmart, IKEA and Starbucks. Each event offers a host of opportunities for PRs to learn more about what retailers and consumers are thinking and doing.
Speaking to experts at Beattie, Launch PR, Escapade and Mason Williams, Gorkana looks at how PR and comms professionals balance the need to acquire knowledge, particularly of retail, consumer and shopper trends, with cost and time pressures when considering to attend.
Lynne Goddard, managing director at Escapade:
“Retail trade shows offer an invaluable insight into a particular sector. Future product trends, interesting brand positioning, innovation and industry expert commentary and networking opportunities are all there in one place.
“It is vital to understand how consumers buy, where they gather information and what or who are they influenced by. We regularly undertake our own research into shopping habits so we are better equipped to advise clients on the best tactics to reach their desired audience.
“There is a wealth of opportunities from meeting up with key channel journalists, to gaining your client a speaker slot, launching new trade initiatives, beta testing products with retailers and gathering retailer intelligence.”
Niki Wheeler, director at Launch PR:
“Trade shows can be a great opportunity to set clients up for interviews with media who are either partnering a major event or who plan to attend. However, as an agency, any time out of the office needs to be justified and quite often clients will staff interviews we set up and provide insights to us following a show which means we don’t always need to attend.
“From a PR perspective, it is critical to run brand building campaigns and press offices which support a client’s commercial objectives. Using customer insights when it comes to media targeting, supporting promotions with creative ideas or pushing elements of an assortment via product placement are a key part of this.”
Laurna Woods, group managing director at Beattie:
“There is value there, it’s just that people need to prioritise and time is squeezed. Also you can catch so much of it online, just like everything, internet has replaced the need for a physical presence at the event and it’s not at the top of the priority list. If an event is accessible a lot more PRs would turn up. If they tend to be in remote places it might not reap the rewards against the cost.”
Rita Rowe, owner and managing director at Mason Williams:
“In all sectors we have trade shows, and I think what you’ll find is that everyone is always so busy to achieve anything as a PR unless you are there with your client. For the brands that attend, like Disney (set to attend WRC) if they’re doing it to get distribution deals, for example, the last thing they want is to speak to PRs. So, it’s probably the wrong environment.”