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Is your brand exhibiting at CES 2024? Our Bolt PR team has been on both sides of the camera at CES in recent years, serving as media to interview the people behind the tech, and as representatives for our consumer tech clients to showcase their latest innovations.
Now we’re taking you behind the scenes and answering the age-old question: is CES worth the cost? If your goals are to elevate brand awareness and credibility, and reach new audiences to drive demand, then our answer is yes. Here’s how consumer tech brands can maximize their CES investment.
Make sure your product is CES ready
It goes without saying, brands must be prepared for the lights, camera and action of the CES exhibit floor. That means that your product must be available and ready to demo. Media, potential investors and industry partners will all want to see your product in action and try it out for themselves.
Think about the right team members to staff your booth. We recommend including founders or executive spokespersons for media interviews, PR or marketing representatives to liaise and coordinate with media, and product experts who can help demo your product and answer questions.
Invest in your CES exhibit booth
If you’ve ever walked the exhibit floor at CES, you know everyone is vying for your attention - and brands invest in beautiful, expansive displays that will stop you in your tracks. That doesn’t mean you have to have the biggest display, but you must invest in professional booth design. Work with a creative design team to design booth displays to the proper dimensions, reflecting your branding, and with visual appeal that will attract attention.
Consider the booth backdrop for video interviews and photos. Don’t overlook the small details for your booth design and setup, including curtains or cabinets to hide cables, as well as extension cords, chargers and any other equipment that is needed to keep your tech running smoothly all day.
Engage media before and during CES
We’ve been on both sides of the camera at CES, and we know just how busy the day becomes for media attendees and how quickly their schedules fill up. Time is scarce. Help the media understand what they should know about your product, why it matters, and where to find it in the crowded aisles of consumer tech brands.
Email inboxes will quickly flood with brands trying to introduce their products and spark some interest. Having been on the receiving end of those emails, we’ll share some hard truths here - most of those emails are not doing the brands any favors.
You need to engage media attendees early, but you must take time to craft your message. Keep your pitch short and to the point, and be clear about who your product serves and how it’s different from the thousands of other products they’re reading about in their inboxes.
Consider the CES experience for media, as they travel up and down the Las Vegas strip between exhibit halls and navigate the aisles to find specific booths. Our advice: make it easy for media to find you and be clear about what they can expect to see. Send invitations to visit your booth and clearly communicate your exhibit hall and location, let them know if they will be able to demo your product and with whom they can discuss product questions, and invite them to schedule a time to meet with your spokespeople. If you book a specific time to meet at your booth, honor it.
Continuing the “make it easy for media” guidance, prepare brand assets that can be quickly shared via email links. This may include a press release that can be repurposed in their CES coverage, logos, product one-sheets, product and lifestyle photos, and company fast facts.
Consider pre-show press events
There are a handful of events that occur in the days leading up to CES that are designed for media influencers to be the first to see your new innovations. These events give you a chance to stand out before the show even starts. These events add to your CES investment, but they’re worth it.
Consider CES Unveiled Las Vegas, the official media event of CES. Exhibitors include everyone from Eureka Park startups to global powerhouse brands. CES Unveiled provides priority access to media influencers, giving you the opportunity to demo your product, secure pre-event promotion to the CES worldwide media list, and more. Learn more at ces.tech.
We also recommend taking a look at the Pepcom Digital Experience! in Las Vegas. This is the largest independent media gathering during CES, with exclusive invites for journalists and influencers. Demo your product, meet with top media, and reach an even larger audience through the event’s live stream across the U.S. Learn more at pepcom.com.
Apply for awards
Further elevate your brand’s profile, credibility and media exposure through awards and recognition surrounding CES. All eyes are on the CES Innovation Awards, which recognize the best new consumer tech products across a wide range of categories, from artificial intelligence (AI) and digital health, to smart home and wearable technologies. CES Innovation Awards winners who are also exhibiting at CES can display their winning products at the Innovation Awards Showcase. Remember how we talked about planning ahead and being prepared? This award is no exception. Applications are due in early September. If you missed this year’s applications, visit ces.tech and sign up to be notified when the 2025 applications open.
Many top tier media outlets also recognize the best products at CES and editors’ choice awards, including Tom’s Guide, TechRadar, Engadget, Digital Trends and USA Today. Check out each publication’s website for details on the application process, which might be based on applications submitted ahead of the show or on a roundup of the best products they see while scouring the exhibit halls. Ensure these target outlets are on your media list and invite them to visit your exhibit booth for a demo and hands-on experience.
Create lead gen hooks
Even in recent years, booth after booth would proudly display a fishbowl full of business cards. The point? Lead gen. Through a giveaway or other promotion, brands would invite visitors to their booth and encourage them to leave a business card as an entry to win, while then adding the new contact to their email marketing database.
While the methods may be changing, the point still stands. Think about how you can engage visitors at your booth, with an easy way to follow up with them after the show to share product updates and continue conversations about potential partnerships. Perhaps the entry takes a digital spin, with a booth selfie and tag on social media. Think about campaigns that align with your brand, that are easy for people to participate in, and that drive some of your goals for the show, whether that’s growing your social media following or building your email database.
Engage with new audiences
Make new connections and engage. Stay active on social media throughout the show, posting engaging content such as behind-the-scenes videos, photos of your team members at your booth and meeting with new connections, product sneak peeks, highlights of other brands and products that catch your attention, and more. In addition to posting on your own platforms, interact with other exhibitors and attendees in real time, through sharing, commenting and liking their content.
With all of the people you will meet, the days and conversations will begin to blur together. A word of advice? Make LinkedIn connections on the spot. While your CES badge will include a QR code, they’re not all perfect. Have your LinkedIn QR code at the ready. (In your LinkedIn app, tap the search bar and then the QR code icon. Enable your camera so you can scan codes from your new connections.)
Keep the conversation going after CES
Now that you’ve made all these new connections, it’s time to keep the conversation going. Follow up after the show with media contacts, new leads, and potential industry partners to share product updates, company news and other information relevant to them. While you want to stay engaged, be intentional and ensure the message is relevant to each audience. Email inboxes will still be flooded with CES content, not to mention all of the emails that need attention after a week away from the office. Keep your content relevant and timely.
A final word of advice: wear comfortable shoes and bring battery packs and spare charging cables for your phone. With that, you’ll be ready to showcase your brand and products, make new connections, and reach new audiences. That sounds like a good CES investment.
If you’re ready to maximize your CES investment, partner with experts who have been there before. Learn more about our Bolt PR team’s CES experience and how we can help you elevate brand awareness and credibility, reach new audiences and drive demand for your new consumer tech innovations.