By Steve Winter
Years ago, the practice of generating media coverage for companies at CES was a basic matter of “working the street corners.”
Regardless of whether an exhibiting company hired a publicist or facilitated those efforts on their own, the traditional modus operandi was for staffers – press releases and media kits firmly in hand – to scour the crowd roaming the halls hoping to pick out that lone appropriately color-coded badge that designated the targeted individual as a journalist. The visual sighting of that color often meant it was open season to pitch your story and attempt to drag that poor unwitting soul into your booth (or your client’s booth) for an interview.
But that was then … this is now … and today, media is big, big business at CES 2017 in Las Vegas.
“Stories at CES no longer get produced on the show floor,” said Tygénia Saustier of Paris-based Kalima P.R. “Now, there are three events designed specifically to showcase companies with cool products to the media, plus two full days of CES-sponsored special events, all of which are designed to support coverage.” This year, the action began on Tuesday, two days prior to the official show opening, when the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) hosted CES Unveiled, a three-and-one-half hour press-fest attended by nearly 2,000 journalists. More than 180 companies paid $7,700 and up for the opportunity to showcase their products in an exclusive media-only setting. The action continues the next two evenings when two other private entities – Pepcom and Showstoppers – stage their own nearly identical events, both of which attract a similar number of exhibitors and journalists.
“The key to the success of CES from a media perspective is to keep journalists happy,” said Allie Fried, CTA’s Director of Global Event Communication. “And you do that by providing them with what they want. And what they want is food, water, WiFi, and by making sure they have everything logistically they need and they get all the information necessary to get in touch with exhibitors to secure that news.”
For CTA, the care and feeding of the media is both a massive – and highly necessary – element, the results of which are well worth the effort. “Every year we poll our exhibitors and year after year they tell us the same thing. They come for the media coverage.”
And that coverage, Fried says, is massive. “CES gets more coverage than the Super Bowl. The news cycle absolutely stops when CES week gets here. It’s amazing, incredible and exhausting, all at the same time.”
Most journalists concur.
“CES is the ultimate event and that’s why we launch every new year of our program and have done so for the past 22 years here at CES,” says Dave Graveline host of Into Tomorrow, a syndicated tech-focused weekly radio show that airs over more than 160 radio stations nationally. “The beauty of covering CES is that we get to see, touch and report on products and companies that are in the early stages of their product development; in many cases, before they become big.”
But media coverage at CES is not just limited to the startups. On Tuesday and Wednesday of CES Week, the two days prior to the show opening, all the “big boys” get their turn. LG, Bosch, Monster, Samsung, Panasonic, Hisense and dozens of other companies host their annual “state of the company” media event. Typically open by invitation only to accredited members of the media, these news conferences generate incredible amounts of exposure, as writers, editors, bloggers and producers clamor to learn what’s new, what’s big and what’s next.
Want to learn more? No problem, at least not during CES week. Just pick up any newspaper, watch virtually any TV newscast or visit any technology website or blog and see for yourself.
(Pictured above: Tom Izzo of truMedic speaks with journalist.)
Steve Winter is president of Brotman|Winter|Fried, A Sage Communications Company, which is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.