3/26/2012 7:59 PM
As the editor of a stationery blog, I look forward to the National Stationery Show all year long. I love walking the aisles, seeing what longtime favorites have been up to over the last year, gushing over beautiful stationery, and of course discovering new amazing talent. I know most of my exhibitor friends are knee deep in booth preparation for this year's show, so I thought I would offer a few insights into what it takes to catch the attention of the many press attendees at the show.
Every member of the press will have their own strategy for walking the show, depending on how much time they have to spend walking around and what their particular focus might be. Personally, I walk the entire show – every aisle on the floor. For the purpose of this article, I'm assuming that you've already done your pre-show press outreach. You've sent out a few pre-show mailers with your booth number, perhaps sent emails to a few key editors (addressing us by our real names, of course, not "Dear Editor" or "Dear Publication Name"), and your press kits are all designed and waiting to be picked up by editors in the press room.
But pre-show outreach is only half of the equation. Sometimes I know the booths that I want to visit, particularly returning exhibitors, but I walk each aisle to make sure that I don't miss something new. Not every booth will make it onto my blog. With hundreds of exhibitor booths, I probably only cover around 10 - 15% of the show and I pass by many, many exhibitor booths as I'm walking the aisles. The best way to catch my attention as I'm walking the show is through a cohesive and well-branded booth design.
Everything in your promotional and exhibitor materials – from pre-show mailers to your actual NSS booth – should be consistent. Your booth design should be an extension and reflection of your branding, whether that’s a minimalist white presentation or lots of color. This means a specific color palette, a clear sign or wall decal with your business name and logo, good lighting, and thoughtful booth styling. Together, these elements are the first, and biggest, step towards catching the attention of editors as we’re walking the show floor.
For first-time exhibitors, it's important to remember that it’s not just about the product. Your booth design is what gets us to step through the door, then the product has to hold our attention and interest.
In terms of press-friendly booth display, I recommend keeping product displays roughly at hip-to-eye level. Be careful not to put too much up on the walls, which result in visual clutter. It’s also good to keep in mind that it’s hard for the press to see or photograph anything that is too high up on the wall. I’m only 5’2”, so I can crouch down to photograph something, but put it up at 6’ high and it’s pretty much lost to me.
Shelves and tables can be great depending on how much product you're planning to bring to the show. I don’t recommend putting your product into cellophane envelopes as the reflection from the overhead lighting can make products difficult to photograph.
Finally, depending on your booth size, think about floor and seating arrangements. Press and retailer feet alike get really tired after walking around on cement floors all day long, so it can make a huge difference if you have comfortable rug padding or somewhere for us to sit down – and we'll be more likely to stay for a while.
Best of luck with all of your show prep! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in May!
Nole Garey is the founder and editor of Oh So Beautiful Paper, a daily design and lifestyle blog. Oh So Beautiful Paper provides design and stationery inspiration, from wedding invitations to business cards to seasonal holiday cards, for readers around the world.