The Brief

Catalyst were re-engaged in July 2012 for the third year by the client, Hamerville Publishing, to work across all aspects of their 2013 business to business trade show for professional hairdressers, to be held in Manchester on 22th and 24th March.

The business to business client brief to Catalyst included the provision of full awareness trade PR, liaison with exhibitors, trade bodies, key trade individuals, potential visitors – leading to an increase in exhibitors, stands, in show events, presentations, seminars and promotions and ultimately, show visitors.

Catalyst also offers, integrated into its trade PR services, website design and development, graphic design, social media implementation and marketing, these were also provided to deliver a completely comprehensive joined up PR, marketing and sales strategy, services that the client was particularly keen to exploit.

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The Trade PR Strategy and Execution

Within the business to business arena and particularly in such a visually aware industry such as hairdressing, image management is vital to maximise the impact and effect of any communication.

Consistent standards must be maintained across all activities, Catalyst’s first move was to create one of the lynchpins of the overall PR and marketing strategy – a corporate image manual, this was implemented across all areas of communication as a strict discipline, the client also adopting this when promoting the show in their own promotional materials and in their magazines.

With this manual in place Catalyst developed and delivered the following strategies:

» July 2012 – Catalyst organises 2013 preview business to business event to ensure all relevant trade media are fully aware of the show, event include invitations also to previous stand holders, potential exhibitors, participants and other interested parties.

» August 2012 and on, trade pieces start being published, Catalyst feed new information to the trade media on a story by story, piece by piece basis to ensure regular coverage across all show activities to maintain and build presence and awareness of the show (see Figure A) and the value of attending/exhibiting to all business to business targets (NB, effectively, Catalyst was asking rival trade publications to cover the show!). Thanks to the close relationship that Catalyst have with the trade press despite some misgivings, regular features, news and interview pieces were achieved, including coverage of individual exhibitor promotions and considerable post exhibition reviews.

» Catalyst PR team maintains regular contact with all exhibitor and show business to business participants to gather news on stand activity, special offers, promotions and other initiative, this is part of the client/exhibitor service, something that has attracted praise from the show participants. These stories and offers are then sent to the trade press in the form of Catalyst prepared news stories, which are also used on the show website and distributed to the show visitor database via social media and Mail Chimp campaigns.

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» Catalyst was given direct access to the client business databases for both exhibitors and previous trade exclusive visitors to the show. Catalyst created a social media campaign for both audiences, sending regular, fact laden information to the interested parties, announcing key developments and encouraging interactive relationships to be developed, re-tweeting to increase visitor numbers and gain extra business leads.

» Catalyst developed a Trade advertising campaign for the show to impact against potential show visitors – and to also work hand in hand with the trade PR campaign. Expenditure in business to business trade magazines does have a direct effect on how much editorial is given; Catalyst used this as a lever to ensure extra editorial coverage (although standard above the line expenditure tends to be less effective than a well thought out PR strategy) (see Figure B).

» At the trade show itself, Catalyst created and manned the Press/PR office throughout the 2 days of the exhibition, liaised with the press and exhibitors, arranging in show interviews as appropriate, created on-going live tweets and Facebook activity to support the organisers, exhibitors and to create last minute trade visitors and supported the client in dealing with organisation issues as they came up.

» Post show, Catalyst overnight created and sent out releases, quotes and news stories from the show and gave show participants press packs so they could benefit from their own publicity services using Professional Hairdresser Live materials. This extended the impact in the press of this exclusive business to business show thus further increasing its overall awareness– and preparing for the 2014 show in terms of trade visitor numbers and potential exhibitors.

» Catalyst also offer web development, design and support services. For the 3rd year running, the client also engaged Catalyst to create and run their complex, business to business show site. Catalyst incorporated all PR activity into the site, created an interactive news and view section, latest releases, ticket purchasing, newsletters (written by the Catalyst team), media information, full exhibition details and films and a photographic library of all the main activities of the show that the media could visit and download as needed.

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Conclusion

“When launching and developing a major new exhibition we were seeking to engage with an agency that were able to combine traditional pr services with web development and social media promotion. Catalyst delivered all of this enabling strong brand identity and event awareness to be created very effectively in a short period of time. The whole team were both creative, and reactive to our needs. Their services were delivered with an infective level of passion.”

OLIVER SHANNON
Group Manager
Hamerville Media Group