Audrey Fernandes I Director, Technology Practice – Golin MENA
“Success depends upon previous preparation. And without such preparation, there is sure to be a failure,” said Confucius.
This is the ultimate truth when it comes to strategizing, leading, and succeeding at a global, large-scale event such as GITEX. Preparation is the key ingredient that serves as a guide when you sprint through halls 1 to 25 trying to secure quality interviews, worth the value of your client’s story, narrative, time, and effort.
And, this preparation starts at least two months in advance, if not more.
Why you might say? Because some of your clients might not be in a position to decide the theme, messaging, and products that align with the event. These are important decisions, which are often controlled by the priorities of multiple stakeholders. This is where the skills of a true PR professional come into play. Accommodating and bridging the key requirements of marketing, sales, and the overall corporate structure in succinct messaging can help you win half of the battle.
Once all stakeholders are on the same page, then begins the process of ensuring the content assets are aligned with the main goal, which is often directed towards increasing the footfall at their respective booths and attracting media interest.
The content assets include strategic press announcements, the exchange of relevant insights, and introducing products and solutions. Build strong content assets that can spark a conversation, shift the paradigm of the technology industry, and cut through the noise.
The next step is to prepare your key opinion leaders to talk about their stories and engage the media in an effective manner. I remember one of my mentors told me years ago that strong content can deliver equally strong results. While I agree, during an event like GITEX, the delivery of the content is important as well. The burden of good storytelling lies on the shoulders of good storytellers.
The last aspect of the preparation consists of strong media relations. The ability to pick up the phone, talk to the journalist, give them a peek into the planned announcements, and score an interview slot is a skill that needs consistent work and practice. This also requires being aware of the media landscape and understanding the areas of media interest. For example, unless it is a government-driven announcement, you cannot expect a national daily newspaper in the UAE to accept a product launch press release. That would simply be considered an advertorial. Make the time of the journalist on the phone worthwhile be delivering hard-hitting story angles and updates.
Once these details are ironed out, organize your plan down to a tee. Don’t be afraid to overthink things at this point to ensure all elements of your work are covered. Imagine yourself on the ground, escorting spokespeople and media from one hall to another, and play all the possible scenarios in your mind.
The concluding part of this process, but the most fundamental, is using this plan as your handbook. It will show you the right place to be at the right time. Even if things go a little haywire at times, or you face mishaps, your plan will help empower you to take risks, make changes, and move on from difficult moments.