Author: Cassie Gasaway
When exhibitors work with press representatives and media members at the ATA Show, three things happen. One, press get content for their platform. Two, exhibitors get free publicity and exposure for their brand or product. And three, consumers get valuable insights on new products and industry trends.
“Everyone wins,” said Bernie Barringer, a full-time outdoor communicator from Minnesota. Barringer started attending the ATA Trade Show 12 years ago to find stories, identify industry trends and examine new products. He said attending the Show as a press representative is helpful, but he wishes all exhibitors would consider working with press individuals.
Barringer said most exhibitors understand the value of press in the industry, but some have been burned by folks looking for a free handout and have stopped working with press altogether.
“Some startup communicators attend the Show to bring a bag of free stuff home,” he said. “I hate to put it that way, but unfortunately, that’s the reality. There has been some abuse of the system, and exhibitors are skeptical.”
Though he understands the exhibitors’ hesitation and mind-set, Barringer said it’s problematic for press who are there for the right reasons. Thankfully, there’s a solution. Exhibitors should vet press folks before agreeing to or turning away a request. Ask the individual who they work for, what they’re after and what kind of influence or reach they have. Here are a few sample questions:
- What materials or content do you hope to obtain?
- How many people will likely see the content you produce? That is, how many subscribers or viewers do you have?
- What benefits will this interaction have for my company?
Barringer switched to email newsletters when he saw the need to switch platforms. Photo credit: Bucks, Bulls, & Bears
Barringer welcomes these questions and is more than willing to prove his worth and credibility. He was a print writer for 30 years and has more than 1,000 published outdoors-related articles. He started a bowhunting blog in 2010 when the print market shrank. By 2016, he’d gained 33,000 followers. When that platform plateaued, he shifted to focus on videos and a weekly email newsletter. His current brand — Bucks, Bulls & Bears — has over 100,000 email subscribers and over 13 million views on YouTube with 25,000 subscribers.
Barringer said it’s one thing for manufacturers to buy ads and toot their own horn by saying “my stuff is great,” but it’s much more valuable for an unbiased outdoor communicator to talk up the brand or product to their numerous followers. These situations give consumers a better reason to trust the information, and simultaneously boost the manufacturer’s sales and reputation.
Please note the difference between press attendees (black badge) and media members (blue badge). Press attendees go to the Show as journalists to cover Show happenings through print, radio, television, podcasts or other avenues. They are not ATA members and cannot solicit exhibitors. Attendees who wear a press badge and solicit exhibitors should be reported to an ATA staff member who will remove them from the Show. Alternatively, anyone with a media sales badge has an ATA media membership and can sell ad space or seek partnerships and sponsorships. These corporations or entities also collect content to help recruit, retain and reactivate archers and bowhunters through their blogs, websites, TV shows and other media.
Barringer will have a blue media sales badge because his Show visits are now twofold, as he works to cover the Show and get support for his platform.
Regardless of the badge type and color, exhibitors and press attendees or media representatives should strive to create relationships with one another. The Show can help facilitate relationships and set the tone for future interactions.
Talk to the press member about their website or social accounts. Photo Credit: ATA
Exhibitors: If a press or media member visits your booth requesting product information or an interview, ask them about their qualifications and reach. Seek to understand the value and potential of an interaction and consider giving them your time.
Also, if a press attendee asks about sponsorship opportunities, please report them to an ATA member. Only people with a media sales badge can seek financial support or a formal partnership.
Press: To increase your chance of productive interactions, bring proof and evidence of your influence and effectiveness in the industry. Be prepared to state your case and share how working with you will benefit their business. If you get access to information, an interview or a free product, follow up with the exhibitor after featuring their brand or product in your content. Doing so shows you’re honest and reliable, and it improves the likelihood of the manufacturer wanting to work with you again in the future.
Also, if an exhibitor wants to talk business or asks for your rate regarding a sponsorship or partnership, please abide by your badge restrictions. You may exchange information and follow up after the Show.
By working together, exhibitors and press folks can build excitement in and for the archery and bowhunting community.