By Mike Smith, shown above, SVP of PR, Yes&

In just the blink of an eye, the future is here. Artificial intelligence will be driving our everyday lives, autonomous vehicles will soon be platooning driverless on I-95 and I-81, drones with longer range and larger payloads will hover overhead, robotics which provide intuitive support in the home and office will handle our housework and wearable technologies will soon literally make us all walking computers. These innovations were just part of the latest high-tech products on display, January 7-10, at the 52 annual Computer Electronics Show now known simply as CES.

Yes, the just concluded 2020 CES Show in Las Vegas brought the promise of the future to life and how the changes will impact our lives – Mandy Moore talked about cross platform delivery of her show “This Is Us” and said it became a hot TV serial because of multiple devices and online viewership.

With over 170,000 attendees, 4,400 exhibit booths covering four show halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands exhibit hall and advertising on the Goodyear Blimp and neon billboards along the Strip—it’s a sensory overload show in many respects.

The secret sauce is that the deal-making is happening off the show floor—in private networking events, at pre-arranged client meetings, in the massive CES press room and during evening receptions. For Yes&, obtaining invitations joining the “Invite Only” Entrepreneurs Reception and re-establishing relationships with serial entrepreneurs (former clients now engaged with new launches) was a great reason to invest in CES. We also registered for the CES Government Conference later in the week, and managed by industry veteran Don Upson, to shore-up our federal client engagements.

A new products display called Eureka Park showcased innovation from start-up or recently launched tech businesses—with hungry entrepreneurs seeking funding or distribution deals. Of course, they all need launch strategies, digital marketing and PR campaigns so “Eureka!” (a great business prospecting location).

An entire Las Vegas Convention Center North Hall was devoted to space-age driverless transportation. However, the policy implications and “rules” are still being developed and therefore public affairs is required! Country pavilions like those stands from Italy and France took over entire sections of the Sands convention space with delegations from global trade groups inviting global deals. Perhaps an advertising agency could provide market entry for clients seeking international exposure?

“We engage at CES to meet transportation companies, including client Volvo Trucks who are already buying circuitry for safe vehicle platooning, and to discuss policy issues,” said Barnaby Simkin, manager of autonomous driving standards for NVIDIA. “In fact, CES may soon obviate the need for us to be at the Detroit Auto Show since self-driving autonomous vehicles have become so much a part of the CES program.”

Based on the over-capacity flights from Washington, D.C., and the number of policy people, tech companies and friends attending, a vast segment of our D.C. business community simply relocates to Vegas every year — the second week of January. I try to attend every other year and ensure we are on-top of the latest trends and new product innovations. So I believe I have attended 10 CES shows and conferences since the late 1990s.

My own strategy for networking and prospecting is to first support our clients on-site (including meeting with Dr. Pradeep, shown above), meet former clients now in new capacities, shore-up our media contacts for the agency and work the CES networking events and private receptions 12-14 hours a day. (Below is Dr. Pradeep with Paris Hilton at a Vegas club.)

CES Educational Sessions Rock!

I also loved attending the powerhouse CES conference educational track itself. Based on our client requirements and my own interest in expanding sector knowledge, I attended three keynotes:

“What Next Gen TV Means for Tech” – amazing session with Sam Metheny, the EVP and CTO of National Association of Broadcasters, and Dan Schinasi, director of product planning and marketing for consumer electronics at Samsung.

“The Science of Learning” – Yes& has an interest in the Family Technology sector and E-Learning clients. Jordan Shapiro, author of The New Childhood, led a panel of experts including Sunil Gunderia, CSO, and Diana Hughes, director of personalize products, from Age of Learning.

“The Sharing Economy Takes Over the Road” – Lime scooters and our friend Adam Kovacevich, head of Americas Government Relations in D.C., shared the stage with CTA, Uber, and the Los Angeles DOT to talk about how scooters can alleviate commutes.

Kovacevich quickly turned the tables on the CTA moderator and asked others on the panel why more public transportation is not privatized and how transit systems can better address “last mile” commuting. The Lime executive made an analogy between tolling roads in Washington and privatizing certain elements of our own public transit. He raised some important questions for the director and GM of LA’s DOT about privatization of portions of the hated Los Angeles commute. Discussing the role of scooters in public transit and transportation demand management helped frame the debate. “Cities are finding that scooters help address the ‘first mile / last mile’ problem of getting from home to transit and transit to work, as well as those in transit deserts more than fifteen minutes away from transit.  As a result scooters are becoming an increasingly integral part of the local transportation network,” Kovacevich stated.

One last tip! If you go to CES, make restaurant and show reservations early for your client or prospect meetings. Two years ago I took our VIP healthcare technology client to Cirque du Soleil and helped firm our relationship with the telemedicine provider. This year, I was able to see CMA Artist Keith Urban live at Caesar’s for a weekend evening out—and booked the concert last year!

 

Mike Smith is  SVP of PR at Yes&, a performance-driven marketing agency in Washington D.C. that uses branding, digital marketing and web design, marketing and public relations, event marketing and production and video production to achieve our clients’ goals. Yes& is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

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