Eight mistakes trade show exhibitors and their p.r. people REPEATEDLY make that drive me batty

I go to lots and lots of trade shows. Currently in San Francisco at one such event.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

I go to lots and lots of trade shows. Currently in San Francisco at one such event. Next week I will be at another in Boston.

For longer than you want to know, I've been working this beat for ZDNet and other publications.  I come because I want to meet decision-makers, attend product demos, obtain perspective on products and subjects I think you readers will be interested in.

I do understand that exhibitor's time- as well as the p.r. agency types that set up interviews with people like me- are at a premium. But then again, my time is as well.

Over these years, I have developed some pet peeves about trade show exhibitors and the p.r. people who represent them.  If you are of either of these persuasions, consider this list of pet peeves a constructive, best practices document:

1. Make your trade show booth findable. Because trade show floor booth numbering in individual aisles can be highly erratic, I sometimes need to do a quick visual scan of your aisle to locate your lair. I mean, is booth 902 at this end or the other end of Aisle 900? I recommend signage above the aisle, and a booth number indicator on your booth's floor closest to the aisle.

2. Let your booth personnel know we are coming.  This happens far too often; p.r. person who arranged appt with exec has to step away.  No one at booth knows who or where the contact person is, or when he/she will be back. Please, p.r. agency types, make sure your exhibitor's booth types know who you are and when you will be back at the booth.

3. E-mail works better than calling. If you want to pitch us, confirm a meeting or even ask a question, please realize that I am always on wireless email.  I, for one, find email pitches and appointment confirms achieve a better sync with my BlackBerry calendar than a phone pitch. At the same time, Iam likely in a meeting might not be able to pick up and answer your call. I mean, call if you must, but thinking that email is "impersonal" and phone call pitches/confirms are "personal" is outdated thinking. And if your account manager disagrees, show this post to him or her.

4. Take your cell and check it often.  Hey exhibitor agency p.r. types: I may need to reach you while you are at the show. You need a PDA/cell with email capability. Please check it often. That ping might be from yours truly with a question or news of a sudden time conflict and need to resked.

5. Know me and know us.  At this show, too many p.r. types place priority on filling up client's appt calendars without knowing who we are, what we cover- and then letting the client know. I mean, check out our blogs and articles before you pitch us. And please don't confuse ZDNet with Ziff-Davis. I still get that alot. Hey Ziff-Davis are fine folks but that's an entirely separate company with no overlap with us.  We're part of CNET, not Ziff Davis. That's been true for the last seven years.

6 Make sure your client's marketing people know your client's technology. Sheesh, man. You'd think that a Chief Marketing Officer would know the tech basics of the product they are talking up. I mean, I am not asking for under-the-hood code from your SDK. All too often, though, I ask a marketing type even a technolite question and they look puzzled.  Deferring to the nearest tech person (if one is available) in the booth sometimes results in a meeting with someone who has no grasp of who we are and why the heck we want to ask these questions.

7. Know your product's pricing.  This is important info for you readers. This means pricing should be important to p.r. agency types who pitch us stories on these products. Is it $299 or $399? Seat-based pricing? I mean, is this really a difficult task?

8. Wear your badge facing out, not in. Maybe we are meeting for the first time and I am not sure what you look like.  That's why you have a badge with your name? Make sure it faces out so your name appears!

Consider yourselves "best practice-d."

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