Media Preview Event Draws a Crowd: Apply Now for the 2015 Event
On the Monday prior to the 2014 SEMA Show, the Truck and Off-Road Alliance (TORA) hosted a Media Preview, giving nearly 200 journalists a head start on their truck, SUV and off-road coverage for the week. The goal was to allow council members to meet one on one with media reps, making contacts and introducing new products without sacrificing valuable floor time with buyers.
Each of the 18 manufacturer participants was chosen from an application pool by lottery to set up temporary exhibit space within the Media Center in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Throughout the four hours of the event, the manufacturers were able to show samples and answer questions about their products. The experience not only gave them exposure but also helped foster connections that continue to pay off for the exhibitors.
The idea was inspired in part by the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council’s (MPMC) annual Media Trade Conference, which takes place each January in Santa Ana, California. MPMC’s event is open to only council-member companies that make parts for use in sanctioned motorsports events, so many TORA members do not qualify. Kathryn Reinhardt, an TORA select committee member and marketing manager for MagnaFlow, explained that the council’s desire was to provide the same opportunity for manufacturers in the light-truck, Jeep and off-road markets.
“We wanted to give them an outlet in order to reach out to media, because these are big companies making big products and have big budgets,” she said. “We knew that the media would be interested in knowing about these companies and would like to be able to eventually make connections where they can have advertisers. We thought it was very important that these TORA members had a voice and had a way to communicate to the media directly.”
The first step for the council’s leadership was to organize the logistics and find a time and location that worked well for the many stakeholders. SEMA Show week was a good option because so many of the manufacturers and media were already in Las Vegas for the trade show. The next challenge was to alert the media to the opportunity—a task that fell to both SEMA and the participating exhibitors. MagnaFlow communicated the value of the event by reaching out to its own media contacts with personal invitations, letting them know that they would have an exclusive by attending the event on Monday.
Preparation was important for the event. The TORA select committee recognized that not all manufacturers would have experience interacting with the media and creating materials. In order to ensure profitable discussions, council participants were provided with various media training resources and asked to meet media-kit production milestones before the event. The training materials covered topics such as how to talk to media, how to prepare a press release and how to make the company’s information accessible to the media.
Reinhardt said that MagnaFlow set up its own 10x10 area with new products and displays that supported the brand. The company also handed out USB drives with imagery, product information and schedules for its booth events. Reinhardt was joined by the company’s technical representative, on hand to field any questions about builds and what makes the company’s products unique.
Being proactive paid off during the event. When Reinhardt wasn’t engaged in conversation with the media reps walking through the preview, she would approach them. In all, she estimated that she and other company representatives spoke with about 75 media reps.
“I have seen a lot of follow-up,” she said.
As a select committee member, she was thrilled with the participation and the chance to offer council members a new and valuable opportunity.
“The SEMA Show takes up so much time with your customers, and you always feel bad because a media person will walk up and you don’t have the time to talk to them or you don’t have a meeting scheduled, so this is a way to be proactive outside of your booth,” she said.
The second annual TORA Media Preview is scheduled for Monday, November 2, at the 2015 SEMA Show. TORA-member manufacturers that would like to participate can apply now at www.sema.org/TORA.
With so much to cover at the Show, a few focused hours can make all the difference for journalists. Media can register for the event during the SEMA Show registration process at www.SEMAShow.com. Media inquiries can be directed to Della Domingo via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Manufacturers may contact Clayton Drescher at email@example.com.