The only true constant of public relations is that the playing field is constantly changing. Growing one day. Narrowing the next. And always picking up speed.
Sometimes that evolution is an impossible-to-miss green flash. Other times it’s a slow burn that changes everything.
One fascinating burner from the last few years has been the steady, backward creep of tradeshow deadlines. It’s more than a little counter intuitive that in a digitally powered world where just about everything else is compressing and moving forward, editorial PR needs are going the other way.
Once upon a time in the land of trade shows, a legitimate PR deadline for pre-show coverage was approximately a month prior. Thirty days was plenty of time to get the story into the hands of the right people. The shows were smaller then, of course, and people still spent dozens of hours designing and printing something called “press kits” to leave in a faraway realm called the “press room”.
On that old timeline, for a high-value show like Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, it meant for meaningful pre-show coverage you needed to have your ducks in a row by mid-June. A tidy package of set MSRPs, confirmed specs, publication quality images, and a colorful bow of a relevant context to wrap it up nicely. For many smaller brands, the old deadlines were achievable but challenging, to say the least.
Unsurprisingly, as that internal deadline has steadily pushed backward from June into early May and even late April, it’s become almost impossible for a small brand to keep pace.
One reason is that business gets in the way. Brands with a marketing department of two (or less) make up the vast majority of tradeshows, arguably 80% or more of the total exhibitor pool, and when you’ve got a single body on staff with marketing in their title, advance trade PR is an easy thing to put on the back burner.
But another big reason for the reverse deadline creep is that it's being reinforced and strengthened by brands who can handle it. They recognize that it’s a race for page space, and they embrace the hunger for editorial content by feeding it with foresight, resources, and planning.
Brands who can are not merely rolling out product earlier, they’re also executing major tactics … stuff like meticulous big-dollar mailers, intimate media desk tours, international fam trips and other creative VIP sneak peeks … way earlier than the trade show curtain goes up.
And as those 'brands who can' are consistently and proactively executing ahead of the curve -- season after season -- the curve is moving backward to meet them. Meanwhile, those who respond to needs as they emerge are accepting a new reality of always being several steps behind.
The victory here, for lack of a better word, isn't the speed of the digital world. Instead, it's the essential nature of planning.