For one week each year the streets of San Francisco are filled with security professionals from around the world, attending the largest security conference: RSA.
I had the pleasure of supporting our security clients as this year’s event. Following are a few pointers and lessons learned for PR pros planning for next year.
The most crucial point that I can’t stress enough is to work with your client to plan ahead—at least six months—prior to the event.
Set up a brainstorming session to determine how to cut through the noise and be different from every other vendor. Does your client have upcoming company, product or funding news? If not, what will you have to offer the media?
Consider third-party research
Was there a recent breaking news story in the security industry that will continue to have legs? Does your company solve a unique problem that you’d be interested in hearing about from other C-level security executives? Maybe their pain points?
Take a look at the company’s overall marketing budget for the conference and define what’s important and how to receive the highest ROI.
For example, when everyone is pushing ads on city buses, billboards and on the show floor, what can you do that will stand out?
Consider ways to encourage booth attendance
Be creative with booth design.
Some companies at this year’s event had booths with two levels, with conference rooms at the top to host their meetings and thus avoid having to utilize meeting space. Talk about efficient!
Don’t wait for the list
When it comes to media relations, don’t wait for RSA to publish the media list. By then most journalists’ schedules are already booked.
Talk to your journalist “friendlies” at least two months in advance to determine if they’re attending and try to get on their calendar.
Also, when planning to meet journalists, consider their time and plan meeting locations that will be respectful of it. This year, the press room was located a couple of blocks away from the main exhibit halls, making it almost impossible for the media to spend time on the show floor.
Troll for ideas
Take advantage of networking parties and troll the show floor for ideas. Code 42 won the best booth, if you ask me!
One of the companies we visited was doing a quick survey via Survey Monkey on an iPad. It only took a few minutes of our time, and their questions were focused on current events in the industry. This is a great tactic to leverage for free PR.
Don’t leave accommodations to the last minute
Last but not least: book your hotel early. Pricing can be outrageous, and availability is scarce.