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Giving your event an international boost

by Louise Findlay-Wilson

Turning an exhibition from a domestic event into one with a global audience doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and effort, says Louise Findlay-Wilson, MD of Energy PR.

Over the years The Energy PR team has built the international profile of events as wide ranging as New York Toy Fair and The World Shoe Association’s Shoe Show, which is now WSA@Magic.

We’ve promoted Easyfairs’ StocExpo Europe and ADF&PCD Shanghai. Closer to home we’ve worked on UK shows such as Packaging Innovations, Advanced Engineering, Diabetes Professional Care and Open Banking Expo.

As you would expect there’s no ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to building an international profile for such disparate events. However, there are some common lessons which I’d like to share.

What’s your difference?

Before you embark on any international PR activity you need clarity about what makes your show useful to international visitors and exhibitors. What will they see which they just can’t get elsewhere?  This is no time to be fooled by your own PR – if your show doesn’t have a USP you must recognise this and do something about it.   


It’s far better to target a few international territories well than achieve no cut-through trying to be everywhere at once. So, focus. The countries you choose will shape your comms plan – the media and influencers you work with, social media’s role and the messages that will work. Agree the markets, then come up with your plan.

Talent that travels

Don’t just use your show’s key speakers to create great pre-event content. Arm them to talk about their involvement with their contacts and followers – think film, LinkedIn/Twitter cards, Instagram posts. Remember – just because someone’s a ‘name’ in the UK doesn’t mean their expertise or reputation travels.

Be relevant

The media needs content that’s relevant and interesting to its specific audience, that means editorial which is geographically tailored. It takes more effort but issuing blanket stories just won’t cut it.

Avoid the revolving door

The last thing you want is a revolving door of international visitors who attend one year but never return. That means you need content and features which will deliver for them. For instance, throw a special drinks party just for international visitors; this will give them the opportunity to meet like-minded visitors and exchange experiences.

Ratchet up the reporting

An honest, positive event review by a respected editor is gold dust. So you want the key overseas journalists onside and talking. Remember, they will want to maximise their trip with content for their publication’s social channels, not just its editorial pages. As you can see, none of this is complicated. Building your exhibition’s overseas profile require a bit of creative thinking, a lot of common sense and commitment.   

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