9 Ways to Earn More Media at CES

Josh Smith
Jan 17 · 5 min read

How to build relationships with media, earn coverage at CES and through the rest of the year.

In 2019 I helped drive 50 million page views and 9.6 million views on YouTube. 2020 kicked off with my 9th year at CES.

I’ve morphed from the creature sitting on the floor frantically capturing content to a suite savvy video machine. This year I joined 6,365 journalists at CES where I published 30 times in four days. It’s intense, and there are some ways you can stand out.

CES is an epic opportunity, here’s how to maximize your hard work. Many of my best PR relationships started at CES or with a CES pitch.

Hire The Right Team

Step one is to hire a pro. If you’re a company reading this, you need someone who understands how this works.

We can’t tell you how often journalists run into booth staff or company reps who can’t answer simple questions or don’t understand how this works. This year a booth rep asked me, “what’s a press kit?” I’ve also been told by booth staff that they can’t talk to me since I am media, and then they also can’t find someone who can talk.

Ideally, you should be on this in advance, but I’ve seen Savvy Millennial come in and deliver results in the 11th hour. Professionals at Brand Amp and Walt and Co routinely impress at CES.

Plan Your Attack

Vegas at night showing scope of CES.
Vegas at night showing scope of CES.
Make sure your location and plan works before CES.

Be sure to review your plan with a journalist, or at least a Vegas pro nothing is as close as it seems on the Strip

Lining up meetings all across Vegas is a challenge, and how you book, where your client is and how flexible you are for last-minute opportunities is going to make a major difference.

I talked with one PR rock star who said they do their best to pick booth neighbors during selection. Use this info to your advantage and know where journalists are already going to be so you can offer an easy add-on stop.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

I routinely hear that Sunday and Monday are just prep days which is a huge missed opportunity. Even if you just invite video teams in and have a corner available, it’s going to be worth it. We don’t care if marketing posters and final touches are done, we want to see and film the product.

We arrive in Vegas days before the show starts. If you want to get ahead of the competition and secure an easy win, let journalists meet with you before the show floor or even press conferences start.

Press conferences take too much time, there are too many people and frankly not worth it. Use an embargo, share with key journalists early and everyone comes away happy.

Remember Vegas Hotel Lighting Isn’t Video Ready

Video shot at Razer suite in 2020 with good lighting.

Vegas hotels aren’t made for filming gadgets. They are dim and you can’t always count on natural lighting. Bring in your own lights and make it look beautiful. It’s easy to rent lights for the show or get a few LED video lights to take to all your briefings.

Lenovo and Razer really impressed with the lighting and Lenovo even went further to offer a good looking set for filming. This is a cheap investment that will pay off for every piece of content created at CES.

Don’t blast Music or Let Your Founder Shout

Loud CES ballroom.
Loud CES ballroom.
Don’t add more noise to CES.

If I’m there to film, don’t have a DJ going right when you open to the press. If we’re at Pepcom or Showstoppers, do as much as you can to avoid adding noise and don’t let your company founder or exec yell the whole time.

Come to the Journalist

Be mobile and flexible. Do you have a kick-ass product that can fit in a backpack? Offer to come to the journalists. At CES 2020 I watched Savannah Peterson running around The Strip to hand out moto 360 units. I remember a dedicated PR rep who brought a suitcase full of gadgets to our work suite so we could film in rapid fashion in a quiet setting during CES a few years ago. They earned multiple videos and written coverage with this trick.

Understand we Always Want to Shoot Our Own Video When Possible

iPhone in gimbal ready to film.
iPhone in gimbal ready to film.
Plan time to let us capture video into any briefing.

I flew to Vegas. I’m holding your gadget. I don’t want just the presskit photos and videos.

Build time in your meeting schedule at suites for filming. I can hit a 1–2 minute video right after a brief, but you need to build that into your flow. Plan to do video as we go or run videographers back through for video at the end. Either option works, but building the time in and communicating the time we have goes a long way.

Be Flexible

Specific time slots work before the show opens. Once it’s on, be open to a stop by at any time or at least offer to let the journalist text you when nearby and then schedule a meeting around what they are doing.

Take tips from Jill Escol at Klipsch who gave a booth tour with no notice and was able to get a unit around to film and a quiet spot in the booth. Brad Molen at TCL also did a great job of working me into a busy schedule and having the entire lineup in his hands. This makes a huge difference.

If you’re open to people stopping by, tell journalists this and make sure booth staff know what to do, or who to find.

Have a Video Cheat Sheet or Signage

Have a list of features, specs, and pricing on hand that we can palm and then glance at between takes. At HyperX this year they had great signage so I could see many details while filming and the person giving the briefing shared his bullet point cheat sheet. It simplifies run and gun video production dramatically. Lenovo and Razer also did a great job at this in 2020.

Have a cheat sheet that is easy to see or use while on camera or between takes.

Bonus: Know That We’re Human

Some times you have an awesome pitch, the right expert and are flexible, but it just doesn’t work out. Trust me, we remember who is easy to work with and who went the extra mile. Sometimes timing fails or a publisher sets a different priority. Follow up a week after CES and get on the radar again.

Josh Smith

Written by

Josh Smith makes technology, games, and autos easy to understand for the average user. He writes and films with the consumer in mind.

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