The Apple World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), and other conferences like SXSW , CES, andthe likes, are probably some of the most intense days for a tech PR. It’s true that you can complete some busy work this week: you can write some press releases and get your agendas done for calls that will mostly amount to “it’s a busy week for reporters.” If you have a launch this week, then the work should have been done last week or the week before. This is a challenging time for PR. Trying to gain a journalist’s interest in a client’s conference, either to attend or cover it, is an increasingly difficult task as more journalists weigh the time involved against the insights and content the event will produce.
With so many competing conferences in all sectors of tech, succeeding in gaining media interest is an impressive feat. But it’s also only half the battle. Whether on-site on the conference floor, or assisting the client with conference duties from the office, a PR professional still has a lot of work to do to gain client trust and earn media respect.
So what are you doing this week, then? Here are some tips.
1. No Pitching
Seriously. Put down the damn phone. Don’t email anyone. (OK, maybe email a few people the day after the main keynote of WWDC and see if it works, but be very careful as most people will probably have to wade through a deluge of pitches sent the day before.)
Also, call nobody. Do not make a phone call. Don’t use your phone, except maybe to call your mom or dad and tell them you love them. That’s way more useful than trying to get a reporter on the phone on this today for a pitch.
2. Write Something Useful
I’m going to spend the next day or two editing my book and writing blog posts like this one. You probably have a release to write, or your horrible boss is making you write a call agenda this will ultimately be worthless to all involved parties.
You potentially would have to ghostwrite an article for a client, even if your agency has said publicly they don’t do this (wink wink). But just do it. You may have to contribute to your agency’s blog.
3. DON’T PITCH APPLE EXPERTS
Unless one of your clients is a former top exec at Apple, don’t try to squeeze your so-called expert into an Apple piece. You’re realistically not going to have your expert featured in any of the WWDC coverage. You may see one and say “that should be my client!” but you’re probably wrong because these people really are not important…and you’ll be forced to turn to spray-and-pray to get placements.
4. Don’t Bother Seeing The WWDC Keynote Video
It’s going to be a waste of your time—why? Because you’ll be able to get the Cliffnotes or condensed video clips just a few minutes after the live streaming. Better to use that time to network. You definitely have better things to do–and you can read an entire summary post about an hour after the livestreams.
5. Don’t Tweet
Everyone around you will feel like they’re tweeting about Apple’s Next Big Thing. And randomly tweeting about what happened in front of you in the style of Marcus Aurelius will probably not lead to much in the way of engagement. So try to not follow the crowd.
Keep your head up. In other words, beware of always staring into your phone. Checking for emails and texts can be important to stay in the loop, but being more engaged with your phone than with media or the client is noticeable. It can make you seem unapproachable when you need to be the most accessible contact on site. It’s best to stay present at all times when you’re on site—you never know when a reporter or client might be looking for your assistance.
6. Don’t Let Your Clients Tweet Either
Do you really want to star a conversation, or are you cool shouting into the echo chamber? Check in judiciously. There’s a lot going on at conferences for both the client and the journalist. Aside from understanding their daily schedules, think from their perspective about which communications are most important. Often a message can wait, particularly if it’s not related to the event itself. Wrap up emails that capture critical points in a single message are often the most useful.
7. Do Something Good For Your Agency
Seriously, this week provides you with a great day (or two) to have fun together. Take a half day; get a drink; talk about the good/better/best times. Bring all you dogs into the office and watch them play together. Weeks like this one are the worst for PR, and I just want you to be happy.
Don’t underestimate a phone call. Just like calling a journalist with a pitch rather than emailing it can often yield a great interaction, a quick call to a client at an event can go a long way. It offers a personal touch rather than just another email filling up his or her inbox, and allows them to share feedback, frustrations, successes and needs efficiently.