Mobile World Congress (MWC), held each February in Barcelona, is one of the key events in the telecoms calendar. It attracts more than 100,000 delegates and 2,000+ exhibitors, including all the top tech brands. As such it can become a real PR bun fight, with consultants firing out a foray of announcements and roaming the floors looking out for press pass-wearing hacks to corral to their client’s stand.
I’ve seen it from both sides as a former technology journalist and as a PR, and, as an industry, we need to move away from the “throw enough mud” approach and return to the basics of providing journalists with a story of interest and relevance to their audiences.
“Signing up for MWC means signing up for press release hell,” Gordon Kelly, who writes for Forbes, among others and is an MWC veteran, tells me. “I have too many horrendous stories not just from dodgy unknown 'gmailgencies' but from agencies and PRs I've known for years transforming into raging, spamming, aggressive monsters.”
Naturally, everyone wants to get attention at MWC, but with so much noise the challenge is creating a really clear signal.
Before the expo: Plan early. Journalists’ diaries fill up pretty quickly at MWC. You need to have your story and offering clear before Christmas/during Q4. Will your huge announcement get lost in the noise and better off being announced another time? Think about pre-show teasers and what demos you will feature on the stand. Email diary markers and make sure you have reporters’ mobile numbers, of course! Could your client host a journalist? Create an online image and video assets repository that you can share with media. You’ll be adding to this during the event.
During the expo: Manage your expectations. Some journalists will inevitably cancel or run late due to the pure size and complexity of the venue. Where one door closes, others will open, as reporters will pass by so it’s absolutely key that your stand is attractive without the predatory turn-off of circling salespeople. Giveaways are always welcome, especially if sugar-based...
Oh, and wear comfortable shoes!
After the expo: MWC doesn’t finish when the doors close. You’ll have made valuable contacts and picked up numerous contact cards. Be sure to connect with the reporters on LinkedIn and follow up that everyone has all they need from you. Blog about what you’ve learned.
Between us, the Mash team has experience of 12 MWC expos dating back to the days way back when it was held in Cannes, so we’ve seen it evolve.
PRs need to push back on clients who insist on making lots of separate announcements at the show. Journalists already get more than enough press releases. Keep your experience and message succinct and supported by rich, shareable content.
As Gordon Kelly puts it; “I'd say PRs should treat journalist's work as a kind of ongoing soap opera. That every story is not an isolated event but one piece of an interconnected narrative which is constantly moving. PRs need to think how their clients can expand and enrich the next part of that story.”
Check out our podcast on the subject, where Mash Managing Partner, Stu Campbell-Carran, and Content and Media Director, Chris Lee, discuss best practice: