Public relations is a complex strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between companies and organizations and the publics they serve. Bored yet? We don’t blame you. This basic definition of PR is why nobody really understands what public relations practitioners do on a day-to-day basis. The truth is, PR is an often-intangible world that inhabits a unique space amongst traditional marketing and advertising activities.

PR is changing, and that’s okay

In the past few years, the formula for building a winning marketing plan has changed. The rise of modern public relations, driven by digital engagement and social media has also shifted. As more and more building product brands struggle to bridge the gap between traditional advertising and media relationships, you have to focus on strategizing, developing and executing PR plans that do both. 
 
Publishers and editors were once the gatekeepers who supplied the A&D community with engaging content that informed and persuaded them, but don’t forget about mediated interpersonal communication, owned media assets and social channels to complement and bolster your work.
 
One way we achieve this is by capitalizing on trade shows and industry gatherings that bring all key players to the same city or region. From NeoCon, the world’s largest commercial interior design show, to the AIA Conference on Architecture, a gathering of 17,000+ architects, designers and manufacturers, to IWF, one of the top woodworking trade shows in the world (which we look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!), the possibilities for strategic engagement are endless.
 
Without the proper strategy, however, your chances of standing out and earning your keep are slim to none. In fact, recent figures show that out of the average 400 booths at a trade show, the typical attendee plans to visit – drumroll please – 21. That means your booth has about a 5% chance of being visited by any given attendee. Rather than wait for 5 percent of a particular show’s attendees to visit your booth, take this opportunity to be proactive and 
 
go beyond the booth to engage with the A&D community on a more personal, face-to-face level away from the trade show floor.

Influencer events are important relationship builders

In recent years, our clients have capitalized on trade shows by hosting influencer events. Whether it is a dinner or a behind-the-scenes manufacturing tour, pairing clients with architects, designers and trade publications.
 
This face-to-face meeting of minds helps build relationships with key audiences and target media. As many of the attendees are well known on social media and run blogs, forums, podcasts and more, it also helps keep our clients at the forefront, building special connections and engaging continued conversations and relationships.
 
Events like this can also result in a high level of interaction and engagement on social media, raising awareness in a subtle and organic way. This helps demonstrate the brand’s message and personality, humanizing it and putting faces with a corporate logo or brand name.

Bringing together the A&D community in the happiest place on earth

At a national conference located in Orlando last year, our team began brainstorming off-site events and influencer engagement opportunities early in the planning process. A few months before the show we devised a plan that would bring together our clients, influential architects and the A&D community in the most magical place on earth. Each client has a rich collective history that spans several continents. Not only that, but their products are used by international architecture and design firms around the world. What better way to celebrate this global heritage and presence than in EPCOT, Disney’s experimental prototype city of tomorrow that is home to the “World Showcase.”
 
Bringing together more than 40 architects, editors, and publishers, the group met a special tour guide from Disney, who escorted us through the international pavilions in EPCOT’s World Showcase. The event featured a progressive course of drinks and bites followed by a private dinner along EPCOT’s lake as we toasted to “Architecture Around the World.”
 
Along the way, guests learned about our clients’ unique products, commitment to manufacturing and design excellence, and had valuable conversations with architects, designers, editors, publishers, brand representatives and important decision makers. These are the relaxed, organic conversations that are impossible to have on a show floor.
 
After fireworks on the lagoon, we ended the evening with a private, behind-the-scenes journey through the sky, flying high from one extraordinary landmark to the next on Soarin’ Around the World. Not only did the event allow clients to engage with architects, designers and the media, it was the perfect opportunity to create lasting relationships and deeper connections.
 

Putting the “R” in public relations

So what does successful PR look like? It’s creating value out of relationships, feelings and other intangibles. It’s connecting great minds and thinkers from different backgrounds and fields. It’s figuring out a strategic way to create lasting, positive memories at a trade show where brands get lost like a needle in a haystack.
 

Want to know more?

 
Amanda Eden is director of public relations/media strategist at Stoner Bunting, which has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984.
 

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